During the cold days of winter, most of us have to fight the primal urge to hibernate and eat as many carbohydrates as we can get our hands on. Modern snack food is designed to be deliciously addictive – no potato chip or cookie manufacturer wants you to be able to eat just one. That’s a double hurdle for those of us trying to maintain a normal body weight during the winter months, or trying to lose holiday weight before summer.
It seems like there are two categories of snackers: Salty and Sweet. Those with a sweet tooth have quite a few healthy options for satisfying cravings. Those of us who love crunchy, salty snacks have a harder row to hoe. What tastes better than potato chips? (Oh yes, flavored potato chips.)
If you have a freeze dryer, it’s very easy to get your crunchy snack fix without adding carbs, fat or calories to your diet. We mentioned last week that freeze-dried okra is all the rage among our friends in the South. There are more vegetables you can substitute for chips, and you can even add your own healthy flavorings if you want.
The key to really fantastic vegetable chips is a kitchen tool called a mandolin. With this slicing aparatus you’ll be able to get thin, uniform slices every time. You don’t need an expensive wooden mandolin – an inexpensive plastic version is just fine.
Here are some of our favorite vegetables to slice, toss in spices and freeze dry for chips:
What’s not to love about a sweet potato? From a health standpoint, they’re packed with nutrients and fiber. From a foodie standpoint, they’re extremely versatile as they can go either savory or sweet. Cut the potato in half lengthwise, then use a mandolin to make very thin, half-round slices. Toss the slices in a tiny bit of olive oil and salt, then freeze dry. When they’re done, you can kick up the flavor with any kind of herb mix or seasoning salt.
We love green beans because it feels like we’re eating french fries when we eat them. Use the freshest string beans you can find and just leave them intact. Toss with a a little olive oil and salt before freeze drying, or with a little olive oil and lemon pepper seasoning.
This leafy green is so packed with nutrients that they are difficult to get anywhere else from a single food source – but by this point in Winter you may be tired of kale-based soups. Kale chips get a boost from 1 tablespoon of nutritional yeast per 12 oz bunch of greens. Toss the greens with sea salt and olive oil and freeze dry, then place in a gallon Ziplock baggie, add the nutritional yeast and give the bag a gentle shake. We learned about nutritional yeast from our vegan friends who use it to make things taste cheesy – don’t ask us how that works, but it does!
One last tip – you don’t have to segregate your vegetables. In fact, making a big bag of mixed freeze-dried vegetable chips looks beautiful and provides a pretty good nutritional balance for a salty snack. We’re always looking for interesting seasoning mixtures, so if you have a favorite – share it on our Facebook page!