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A snack is a portion of food, often smaller than a regular meal, generally eaten between meals. Snacks come in a variety of forms including packaged snack foods and other processed foods, as well as items made from fresh ingredients at home.

Traditionally, snacks are prepared from ingredients commonly available in the home. Often cold cuts, fruit, leftovers, nuts, sandwiches, and the like are used as snacks. The Dagwood sandwich was originally the humorous result of a cartoon character's desire for large snacks. With the spread of convenience stores, packaged snack foods became a significant business. Snack foods are typically designed to be portable, quick, and satisfying. Processed snack foods, as one form of convenience food, are designed to be less perishable, more durable, and more portable than prepared foods. They often contain substantial amounts of sweeteners, preservatives, and appealing ingredients such as chocolate, peanuts, and specially-designed flavors (such as flavored potato chips).

Beverages, such as coffee, are not generally considered snacks though they may be consumed along with or in lieu of snack foods.

A snack eaten shortly before going to bed or during the night may be called a midnight snack.

Snack Idea: Maple Glazed Walnuts

The strange maple-syrup smell that has been drifting over New York City recently has left me with a craving for mapley foods. Yes, there’s the obvious way to eat maple syrup (pancakes! or, if you’re Buddy in Elf—on spaghetti), but I’m trying to have lighter meals and snacks these days, so instead, I’m going to make a recipe I found on the Food Network formaple glazed walnuts. I love all kinds of flavored nuts, and these are particularly good because they are sweet and salty, which is my favorite combination. And they’re healthy, too! (Unless you eat a pound at once, of course… and we all know that nuts can be hard to put down…)

The recipe is from the Food Network’s nutritionist/chef Ellie Krieger. (Check out her show and her tasty recipes online.) The only ingredients are walnuts, maple syrup, and salt—how simple is that? And it’s a nutritious snack. For starters, thewalnuts themselves are healthy. Also, there isn’t a ton of added sugar or fat. Adding maple syrup is a pretty natural way of sweetening food–some other nut recipes I’ve seen and tried have more fattening ingredients like butter, corn syrup, etc. (fine for a treat–I make buttery, spicy pecans when I entertain–but not so great for a daily snack). In fact, maple syrup even has some health benefits–did you know that it is a good source of manganese and zinc?


The downside is that these are a bit caloric (nuts are generally high in calories)–265 calories for 1/3 cup. So try to limit your portions. If you have trouble with portion control, try dividing the nuts into separate ziploc containers and storing them that way, rather than in one big container.

If you like to experiment with ingredients, I think rosemary would also taste good on these maple walnuts. I haven’t tried making them myself that way, but I once bought a bag of delicious mixed nuts that had both rosemary and maple syrup, and the combination totally worked. (I would recommend the brand I had, but I can’t for the life of me remember the name! I bought them at Amish Market in New York City. If anyone knows what I’m talking about, write me a comment!) Anyway, I do remember that these store-bought nuts had a longer list of ingredients, probably to extend the shelf life. Homemade ones don’t last as long, but are healthier because they usually have fewer ingredients, and you control how much syrup, etc. goes in.

If you like spicy snacks, I think curry powder might also work on these nuts, though I can’t say for sure if it would taste right with the maple. The only time I’ve had curry with nuts is on plain cashews (yum!). But curry is worth a shot–a benefit of adding a spice is that it adds so much flavor, you can get away with using less syrup or butter to cut calories, without making your food bland.

Do you have any healthy, flavored-walnut recipes? Write me and share!

Happy munching!

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