Put the crunch on your health

Sherrel Jones shares tips for satisfying your urge to crunch in a healthy manner.
BY SHERREL JONES Published: August 27, 2013
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Ever start eating chips and can't stop?

I have read that the crunch craving is an unconscious way of dealing with stress or frustration, with each crunch being a way to blow off or crunch away our troubles. I also believe we can crave the salt that is readily available through most of those various versions of chips we get.

The real danger comes if we substitute those chips and salsa or dips for a meal or help ourselves to bottomless sacks and multiple baskets of chips. If you keep a food diary, you can spot this crunchy mindless eating that can sabotage an otherwise healthy diet.

Here's the skinny: Ask yourself, “why?” Is it the crunch, the salt or just a mindless escape that takes you from hungry to satiated? For me, it is largely the crunch and the taste. Give me a good salsa and some chips, and I am a happy muncher.

An alternative: Keep some crudites ready in your refrigerator. You know the deal here: carrot and celery sticks, slices of jicama, florets of broccoli and cauliflower, fennel, and even whole pods of sugar snap peas and leaves of Belgian endive. I like this stuff and often serve them as dippers. They are crunchy, but if offered alongside chips, folks still gravitate to the chips. I have created many a melange of steamed leftover vegetables after parties and events.

Satisfying the cravings

My grown children have shared some ideas I've added to appease our chip cravings if those crisp veggie substitutes don't do it for you. Let me start by suggesting lentil chips. Several companies make them, but we like the baked lentil chips from Mediterranean Snack Foods. I found them at Whole Foods and several other health food stores. The company makes cucumber dill, Parmesan garlic, sea salt, rosemary, roasted pepper and cracked pepper flavors.

The chips are gluten-free, a good source of fiber, have no trans fat and include 70 percent less fat than regular potato chips. A serving of 22 of my favorite Roasted Pepper Lentil chips has only 110 calories. Do be mindful of the sodium content of the chips if that is a health issue for you.

Another chip I love is Garden of Eatin' brand's “Sesame Blues.” They are made with organic blue corn with embedded sesame seeds. These are larger than the lentil chips and have no trans fats, but they do have 1 gram of saturated fat per eight-chip serving. Each serving equals 150 calories, with 70 calories coming from fat. They have less sodium at 90 mg than the lentil chips (190 mg).

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Healthier Homemade Chips or Bruschetta

4 flour or corn tortillas, each cut into 8 pie-shaped wedges, or 4 rounds of pita bread, each cut into 8 wedges

1 baguette, sliced ¼- to 3/8-inch thick

Optional: Olive oil or grape seed oil

Adjust oven racks to upper levels. Preheat oven to 275 degrees. Brush tortillas, pitas or baguette slices lightly with olive oil or grape seed oil if using. Cut tortillas or pitas and/or slice baguette. (A pizza cutter works great for cutting tortillas, while an electric knife makes quick work of slicing a baguette.) Spread slices in single layers on ungreased baking sheets and place in oven for 20 to 30 minutes until crisp.

Let cool and store in sealed plastic bags to keep until ready for use.

Cooking note: Adjust oven temperature down to 200 degrees if slices begin to brown quickly, as oven temperatures can vary.

Source: Sherrel Jones

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