snack-savvy

sure, we should be eating more whole grain foods for the health benefits, including high mineral, omega oil, and fiber content. They also naturally reduce caloric absorption by bulking, binding, and increasing transit time through the gastrointestinal tract and lower glycemic response in synergy with fiber in general. But let’s face it: A lot of whole grain foods tend to focus more on health than flavor and convenience. So here are 10 fast snacks using a combination of familiar and unexpected whole grain sources and bringing out the earthy, nutty flavors natural to foods containing whole grains.

Super whole grain energy bars: Knead together 11⁄2 cups toasted oats, 1 cup chopped dates, 1 cup chopped dried apricots, 1⁄2 cup chopped pistachios, and 1 cup brown rice soy protein powder. Sprinkle with up to 3 tablespoons of water as you knead, if necessary. Roll out to 1-inch thickness and press 1⁄2
cup crushed whole grain cereal into each side. Chill; cut into bars.

Sweet and salty chocolate-dipped pretzels: Microwave dark chocolate in a deep glass bowl. Dip in Snyder’s oat bran pretzels, then roll in crushed pecans.

Double-quick quesadilla: Layer shredded cheese, chili powder, cilantro, and tomato slices between two Food For Life Sprouted whole grain tortillas, adding jalapenos for a spicy touch, if desired. Griddle both sides until cheese melts; cut into wedges.

Toasted wheatberry cheese crisps: Toast 1⁄2 cup wheatberries in an iron skillet. Let cool. Stir into 1 cup shredded Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, 1 polenta-trianglestablespoon coarsely ground flaxseed, and 1⁄4 teaspoon cayenne pepper. Spread cheese mixture, 1 tablespoon at a time, into flat circles on a paper-lined baking sheet. Bake for 5 minutes in a preheated 400˚F oven. Cool.

Whole wheat couscous: Prepare whole wheat couscous per package directions, adding snipped sundried tomatoes and drained and rinsed chickpeas. Stir in fresh minced parsley with salt and red chili pepper flakes to taste before serving.

Corn and toasted grain salad: Toast 2 tablespoons each amaranth and quinoa in a dry iron skillet. Set aside. Cut steamed corn off a cob into a salad bowl. Toss with the toasted grain, some diced fresh tomato, leaves of baby spinach, coarsely ground black pepper, and your favorite vinaigrette dressing.

Twice-cooked polenta triangles: Prepare 1 cup whole grain white or yellow polenta according to package directions, stirring in 1⁄4 cup sunflower seed kernels and 1⁄2 teaspoon dried Italian herbs plus salt and pepper to taste. Spread evenly in a lightly greased baking dish; top with 3 tablespoons pasta sauce. Bake 12 to 15 minutes in a preheated 400˚F oven. Remove; cool and cut into triangles. Top with minced green onion to serve.

Barley caprisi salad: Stir together 1 cup cooled, cooked barley; 10 cherry tomatoes, quartered; 2 ounces fresh mozzarella, cubed; snipped fresh basil, and 2 tablespoons olive oil. Add salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste.

Fast Thai rice pudding: Simmer 1 cup cooked Thai purple rice in 11⁄2 cups vanilla soy milk over very low heat with 1 piece star anise and 1⁄4 teaspoonsweet-and-salty-chocolate cinnamon, stirring often, until reaching desired thickness; discard star anise. Eat warm or cool.

Classic blinis: Prepare silver dollar-sized whole grain buckwheat pancakes according to package  directions, stirring in 1⁄4 cup of whole pan-toasted millet into the mixture. Cook as directed; cool between sheets of baking paper. Serve topped with a dollop of plain yogurt, a sprinkle of toasted wheat germ, and a dab of red salmon roe with a small sprig of dill.