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Nutritious Snack Ideas

While Glorious Pot Meals offer a way to create low-fat, nutrient-rich dinners, so many of us are often stuck looking for healthy snack or lunch ideas. Following are some ideas for healthy snacking and light meals that follow the Glorious Pot Meal philosophy for convenience and ease in healthy eating.

Baked Potato: Need a little something extra? Wrap a scrubbed and poked potato in tin foil and place in the oven along with your Dutch oven full of food. Your potato will bake at the same time as your Glorious One-Pot Meal, and you can keep the potato in the fridge for lunch the next day or use it to stretch your meal to feed a bottomless stomach. Be sure to impale your potato a few times with a fork or else it could explode in the oven. I like to do this with sweet potatoes because they're loaded with vitamin C and potassium and taste great all by themselves or with a little butter or margarine.

Miso: Miso is made from fermented soybeans and is a great source of B vitamins as well as digestive enzymes. By simply adding hot water you can enjoy a quick, hearty, healthy cup of Miso soup in a flash. Miso comes as a refrigerated paste (use more or less 1 tsp for 1 mug of liquid) and also dried in individual serving size packets. Besides fermented soybeans, Miso often includes another element such as rice or barley; be sure to read the label closely if you have food intolerances or allergies. For more of a lunchtime meal I'll add shreds of dried wakame seaweed and/or cubes of extra-firm tofu. Don't forget to squeeze the excess water out of tofu before adding it to soups so that the cubes will soak up more of the rich Miso flavor. Tofu, of course, is flavorless on its own and will absorb whatever flavors are around it. Press tofu between a few paper towels to remove the excess liquid.

Edamame: Found in Japanese restaurants or in your grocer's freezer, Edamame are whole soybean pods that are excellent for snacking. I keep them in the freezer to throw into a pot of boiling water whenever I feel the need to munch. Drained, rinsed, and lightly dusted with salt, the pods are traditionally sucked (to get the salt off) and then discarded after removing the soybeans for eating. They're fun and healthy, providing protein and calcium as well as possible protection against many ailments.

Nuts: Shelled peanuts and almonds are staple snacks at our house, as are unshelled, uncolored pistacios. Prime sources of protein and containing only unsaturated fats, nuts provide a great pick-me-up for the mid-afternoon energy lags. Don't forget, however, that unsaturated fat is still fat, and eating massive quantities may translate into pounds. Limit your intake to a handful or two per day.

Seeds: Sunflower seeds in the shell are a fun way to pass the day at a baseball game, but sunflower shells can get annoying inside a house. We keep shelled sunflower seeds and flavored pumpkin seeds in recycled jars around for those times when we just need to crunch something salty to feel satisfied. Try the Tamari or barbeque flavors, if you can find them, for an extra zing.

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Dried fruits: Dried fruits offer the double snacking bonus of sweetness and chewiness, and they also contribute to the goal of eating at least 5 fruits and vegetables each day. My favorite dried fruits are cranberries, known as craisins. Dried cranberries vary in taste and consistency, so it is worth trying a few different kinds. My favorites are the ones my local supermarket offers in its limited bulk food section. Like all fruits, dried fruits provide a burst of sugar and are a great way to get an energy boost with a lot fewer calories than a power bar. Don't forget that anything dried will hydrate and expand in your stomach; eating too many may cause a stomach ache and loose stools! On the other hand, dried fruits are an excellent remedy for constipation!

Quick burritos: Look for dehydrated refried or black beans in the bulk food section of the health food store. Requiring only boiling water to prepare, you can make only as much as you need for each time instead of having to deal with an entire can of beans. Additionally, dehydrated refrieds typically are lower in salt and fat than canned. I keep corn and flour tortillas in the fridge (they last longer when chilled) and heat up the tea kettle for a quick lunch any time. Add cheese, salsa, lettuce, tomatoes, or any vegetables for a heartier meal.

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