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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.

Healthy Snack Idea: Chocolate, Almond, and Sea Salt Crostini

In my post on maple walnuts, I promised that I would eventually write about chocolate, almonds, and sea salt, which go marvelously well together. So, voilà: a recipe for chocolate, almond, and sea salt crostini. The recipe is mostly Amanda Hesser’s, from her book Cooking for Mr. Latte, but I’ve added the slivered almonds. These crostini are deliciously sweet, salty, crunchy, and healthy! Make a slice for yourself if you have extra baguette lying around, or buy a whole baguette and make the full recipe for company!  Your guests will be impressed—these crostini seem unique and are so flavorful, yet they’re really quite simple to put together.

Recipe: Chocolate, Almond, and Sea Salt Crostini

  1. Make chocolate crostini according to Amanda Hesser’s recipe (she calls them chocolate sea salt toasts). Here are Hesser’s instructions:
    • Preheat your oven to 350 F.
    • Cut a thin baguette diagonally into ¼ inch wedge slices.
    • Place the slices on a baking sheet and top each one with a thin square of bittersweet chocolate (not more than a mouthful of chocolate on each slice).
    • Place them in the oven, and take them out when the chocolate is melted but still holding its shape.
    • Put them on a platter, and sprinkle them with extra virgin olive oil and fleur de sel or coarse sea salt. (And as Hesser says, don’t add too much oil or salt–do it to taste. The salt is not supposed to make these taste salty; its purpose it to bring out  the taste of the chocolate.)
  2. Then, my add-on: top each one off with a small sprinkling of slivered, toasted almonds. I like Blue Diamond slivered almonds. I toast them separately in the toaster oven and then add them on when the chocolate crostini come out of the oven. (If you cook the almonds with the chocolate, they won’t be done when the chocolate is done.).
  3. Pass them around and enjoy!

By the way, Oprah’s Magazine has a variation on these crostini, with chocolate, dried cherries, and pistachios. These are also a healthy treat. The pistachios and dried cherries have plenty of nutrients. Use dark chocolate, which is better for you than milk. I also love how colorful these ones are; they make a great presentation.

Try Vosges’s Barcelona Bar and Lake Champlain’s Organic Milk Sea Salt and Almonds Chocolate Bar. These are amazing (and no kitchen work required), but they use “dark milk chocolate” (around 40% cacao), which isn’t as healthy as a dark chocolate (which has a higher percentage of cacao content, usually around 70%). I’m normally not a milk chocolate fan, but the milkier chocolate does work great with the salt and nuts. (Note that there are lots of other chocolate bars out there with almonds in them, but I’m talking specifically about ones with sea salt. These are the only two brands I’ve found with chocolate, almonds, and sea salt–sweet and salty perfection.)

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