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Lite Bites for the New Year

Crispy Oven Baked Beet Chips

I ate my way through the holidays – cookies, cakes, pies, etc. No thank you was not in my vocabulary the past couple of months and I definitely need to loosen my belt a bit. But that’s ok… every bite was delicious and it was time spent with family and friends.

Now that it’s January, I am starting the new year in a healthy way and incorporating delicious snacks into my daily menu. Because, while I’m eating better, I can’t give up my snacks!

“This is a ridiculously easy snack food and is great for a quick boost of energy,” says Sarah Farrand (Saginaw, MI) of her No Bake Energy Bites. “It is so versatile that you can make it with your own favorites… add dried fruits, substitute the nut butter, use all flax, don’t toast your coconut… whatever you like!”

I absolutely love how delicious these bites are. In Test Kitchen, we made the recipe as posted, but my mind is already spinning with changes I can make. Almond butter? Or maybe cacao nibs instead of chocolate chips? What I love most is how you can customize the recipe based on what suits your taste… and what you have on hand.

Granola is something you can easily make at home and is so much healthier than most brands you can buy at the store. A recipe I love is Elaine Douglas’s Homemade Healthy Granola.

“This is a delicious recipe that is much healthier and fresher than the purchased granola,” shares Elaine. “You control the sweetening.”

Controlling the sweetener is key to making granola healthier. Instead of using brown sugar, Elaine sweetens with honey and maple sugar. When preparing, make sure to use pure maple syrup. It adds great flavor but also is healthier than refined sugar. With just the right amount of crunchiness, this granola will be great added to some Greek yogurt or just by itself.

Cauliflower is not something you’d ordinarily think of as a snack. But, Vickey Yott Morrissey’s (Grayling, MI) Spicy Roasted Cauliflower will change your mind.

“My husband is typically not a fan of cauliflower with anything on it but cheese and thought these were ugly,” joked Vickey. “He gobbled them up!”

High in vitamins and fiber but low in fat, cauliflower is fabulous. Raw cauliflower is not my favorite. But roasting, like Vickey does, brings out the sweetness. Spices like cayenne and garlic powder, add a ton of flavor. Served with grilled chicken, this is a great side dish. But, it’s good enough for a snack on it’s own too.

Try dipping Vickey’s roasted cauliflower into Jodie Scales’s (Spokane, WA) Roasted Garlic Cilantro Jalapeno Hummus. Jodie “fell in love with hummus at the farmer’s markets in California.” One bite, and I fell in love with Jodie’s hummus.

The primary ingredient in any hummus is chickpeas. Chickpeas, also known as garbanzo beans, are high in protein and fiber which make them pretty healthy. Jodie’s untraditional hummus adds cilantro and jalapeno to pack big flavors.

“This Crispy Oven-Baked Beet Chips recipe is so easy and so good for you it is not even funny,” shares Karina Alcala (Macks Creek, MO). “My kids love them because they taste like roasted corn.”

I couldn’t stop snacking on these – they’re tasty and couldn’t be any easier to make. These would be great alongside a burger or grilled chicken. But, they’ll satisfy your snacking needs too. Try this recipe with sweet potatoes and zucchini too, as Karina suggests, to expand your options!

Cooking healthy recipes doesn’t mean sacrificing flavor and these recipes are proof of that. Let us know how you’re cooking healthier in the new year… I can use some additional suggestions. Happy Pinching!