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).
It is so important to read and compare labels when shopping for chips. That's how I found another favorite chip from Live Better Brands: Simply Sprouted Way Better Simply Unbeatable Blues. These tortilla chips include sprouted flax, chia seed, quinoa, radish seed and broccoli seed embedded into organic blue corn made with high oleic sunflower and/or safflower oil. You get 11 big chips per 130-calorie serving, with 80 mg of sodium.
Key to enjoying your favorite chips is to enjoy them in moderation. Count out a measured amount then put the package away. Take time to make healthy dippers for the chips you crave. Most beans can be rinsed, drained and blended into dips with a few spices and a little olive oil. Hummus, guacamole and a variety of salsas are available to assist in satisfying your crunchy cravings. Try my Squishy Mushy Bean Dip as an afternoon snack.
A little cutting and dividing is all that is needed to make tortilla or pita chips and even crispy shelf-stable bruschetta. Whether you have flour or corn tortillas, whole-wheat or regular pita bread or a baguette on hand, you can make some great healthier chips to serve with your favorite dips or spreads.
The great thing is they will keep well stored at room temperature in a plastic bag. One tortilla will make 8 chips, and pita bread will make 8 to 16 crispy wedges, depending on whether the pieces split in the middle through the process. A baguette can be sliced into dozens of ¼- to 3/8- inch platforms or slices depending on its length.
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