Foodie Pen-Pals Snack Time

It’s Foodie Pen-Pals time again!!!

Foodie Penpals

After watching the December & January Foodie Pen-Pals from the side-lines due to my trip to Asia, I was excited to be able to participate again this month!

Not only did I get some healthy, delicious treats, February’s Foodie Pen-Pals also introduced me to two fantastic bloggers.

I sent a package to Dara of Live to Eat, Love to Cook (<– check out her blog to see what I sent!) in Brooklyn, NY.  It was really fun shopping for her because we have quite a bit in common.   We’ve both visited (and loved!) each other’s cities in the past, and we’ve even both traveled to Thailand.  Most importantly for my shopping, we both have adventurous taste in food – bring on the flavor!  No wonder I found myself drooling over the countless vegetarian dishes in her blog’s recipe index, full of flavors from around the world including curries, panzanella, and these Roasted Vegetable and Bean Stacked Enchiladas:

(photo & recipe by Live to Eat, Love to Cook)

As for the package I received, I was so lucky to be paired with Mattie of Comfy and Confident.  She blogs about both food and fitness, and as a health-nut myself I was swooning over the healthy snacks she sent me.  I’ve really enjoyed discovering her blog, especially her recent post about food companies that are making a difference.  Don’t miss the videos she links to in her post. If you haven’t yet seen the Chipotle video – it’s a must-see, and so incredibly moving.  The Stoneyfield Farms and Honest Tea videos she shares were completely new to me and I love how they manage to be both hilarious and incredibly informative about the scary truths of modern food production.

Now let’s get to the goodies!

I’ve been looking for more healthy snacks for the office, and Mattie must have read my mind.  While I did all of my taste-testing at home, each one of these treats that she sent me is now in my snack-drawer at the office (well, except for the Luna bar, which I had more than just a ‘taste’ of 😀 ).

The Luna Bar was the new Peanut Honey Pretzel flavor which I’d never tried before.  Mattie said it was “So So So Good”, and I definitely agree!  I loved the taste of the sweet peanut-butter chips contrasting with the chunks of pretzel – YUM!

I have at least 3 cups of tea a day while I’m at work, usually 1-2 green teas (for the antioxidants), and then another 1-2 herbal teas (to jazz up my water without extra calories).  I was so excited when I saw a box of Tazo Wild Sweet Orange Tea in my package. This has been one of my favorite drinks to order at Starbucks, and now I can have it every day!  The bright fruity flavor of this tea (which reminds me of old-school Orange Soda when sweetened) will definitely wake-up my water, hot or cold!

Popcorn has long been one of my favorite snacks.  Only recently, I learned from the blogosphere (including some very helpful tips from The Healthy Diaries) that I could make my microwave popcorn cheaper and with no fat or artificial ingredients by using a simple brown bag!  I’ve been doing this at home all winter, but it just dawned on me that if I bring brown-bags to work, I can make it this way in the break-room too!

 

Easy Brown-Bag Popcorn

1.) Measure up to 1/4 cup of kernels into a brown paper bag (don’t try to make more than this at a time)

2.) Roll the top of the bag down real tight (and make sure it is far from touching the top of the microwave)

3.) Microwave until the popping slows down to 2-3 seconds between pops

4.) Add your choice of toppings (salt & pepper, Herbes de Provence, or cinnamon & sugar are my faves!).  To help the toppings stick to the popcorn, I like to use my Misto to spritz the popcorn with a little bit of olive oil, then I add the toppings, roll the bag shut and shake it up!

I smiled when I saw that Mattie had bought me almost exactly the same popcorn that I had in my pantry – great minds think alike!  Bonus: hers came with 3 different flavors of toppings. So far I’ve only tried the Kettle-Corn flavor and it’s maple-sugar with a hint of salt taste is deee-licious! The other flavors in the box are White Cheddar and Cinnamon Toast which I am sure will be just as tasty.

I still had THREE more products left to try, so I set up a little taste test for myself.  These granolas and trail-mix each got rave reviews from me :-)

The Bear Naked Cranberry Almond Trail Mix was my favorite of the three.  Full of dried cranberries, raisins, dried apples, and nuts, this trail mix was very flavorful. It was a perfect snack right out of the bag, and I think it would make the ultimate Oatmeal topping.

The two granolas were also delicious.  I love that they were in 250-calorie pouches.  Granolas tend to be very calorie dense, so the little mistakes I often make in portion control can do a lot of damage. The Chocolate Chunk Hazelnut Biscotti Granola was seriously full of chocolate chunks, making it awesome in my book.  The Blueberry Granola with Flax was also incredibly flavorful.  Not only were freeze-dried blueberries in the mix, the granola itself even had a blueberry flavor.  It reminded me of a crunchier version of Quaker’s Blueberries & Cream Instant Oatmeal, which I grew up on.

Both of these granolas would be delicious in a bowl of unsweetened Almond Milk, but I plan on eating them straight out of the bag as a snack at the office :-)

Thank you, Mattie, for such fantastic treats – you nailed it!!!

Want to see what everyone else got this month? There were over 200 participants in Foodie Pen Pals this month, and you can check out all of the posts here.

Want to become a Foodie Pen-Pal? Foodie Pen-Pals is open to both bloggers and readers in the US and Canada. If you’d like to participate next month, more information and instructions for signing up can be found here.  Registration for this month closes at the end of the day on March 4th, so don’t delay!

I’d love to hear from you!

What are your favorite toppings for popcorn?