Category Archives: Snacks

Snow Day Soft Pretzels

Full disclosure: where I live, we haven’t had a snow day this winter. The only snow I even came into contact with was when we played with store bought snowballs at the Frozen birthday party I attended this weekend–while wearing flip flops. When the temperature dropped overnight and I had a teeny bit of ice to scrape off my windshield this morning I had to search my garage for an ice scraper. So I personally don’t need snow day activities. However, growing up in the Northeast US, we had plenty of snow days and I’m sure my mom was always looking for random things to keep me and my siblings occupied (and this was before the days of Pinterest. Gasp!).

Snow Day Soft Pretzels

But while weather hasn’t been a challenge for me this winter, my husband has been out of town for almost 6 weeks for work so I’ve still been trying to come up with creative ways to entertain my toddler son in the evenings and on weekends and one of my favorite ways to do that is in the kitchen. I love to cook and bake, he loves to eat and “help” in the kitchen. So we’ve made lots of smoothies, we’ve made flavored popcorn, we’ve made pizza from scratch, and my new favorite is soft pretzels.

Snow Day Soft Pretzels

For a while I was on a soft pretzel kick from the cafeteria at work. They’re not even all that good from there, but the crispy salty exterior with the soft chewy inside is definitely comforting. Homemade ones, though, especially when fresh out of the oven and brushed with melted butter, totally hit the spot. There are a number of ways to make baking these pretzels educational (in additional to delicious) for your kiddos too. Older kids can help with the measuring process while making the dough, lots of math skills there, or watching the yeast ferment (yay biology). My son is too young for those concepts, but we form the pretzels into various shapes and letters so he can practice his alphabet and shapes. He also loves topping them with salt or cinnamon sugar and brushing them with butter which are great fine motor skills practice for toddlers. In the end, we’re left with a tasty treat which makes everyone happy.

So warm up your insides with these easy and delicious Snow Day Soft Pretzels. (PS I was able to make these after work and still have pretzels ready to eat before bedtime).

Snow Day Soft Pretzels

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Snow Day Soft Pretzels (adapted from Baking Bread the Way Mom Taught me)

Yield: 16 pretzels

Ingredients:

1 package active dry yeast (2 1/4 teaspoons)

1 1/2 tablespoons honey, divided

1/4 cup lukewarm water

1/2 cup milk

2 1/2 cups water, divided

4 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided

1 teaspoon salt

3 1/2 cups plus 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour

1 egg

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon vegetable oil

1/2 tablespoon baking soda

Coarse salt and/or cinnamon sugar, for topping

Directions:

  1. Combine yeast, 1/2 tablespoon of honey, and lukewarm water in a small bowl. Set aside for 5-10 minutes until foamy.
  2. Meanwhile, heat milk, 1/2 cup water, and 2 tablespoons butter in a small saucepan until hot. Transfer to a large mixing bowl (of a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook if possible).
  3. To the mixing bowl, add the remaining honey, salt, and 1 cup of flour and blend thoroughly. Mix in the egg, then the yeast.
  4. Add in the baking powder and the rest of the flour, little by little, mixing with the dough hook after each addition. Continue kneading with the dough hook for 5-10 minutes until the dough forms a ball, and is smooth and no longer sticky.
  5. Place the oil in another mixing bowl. Coat the ball of dough in the oil, then set in the mixing bowl, cover with a towel, and set aside in a warm area to rise for 1 hour.
  6. After the dough has risen, punch down the dough then place into the refrigerator for 30 minutes (up to 2 hours).
  7. Place the baking soda and remaining 2 cups of water in a small saucepan and heat until the baking soda is dissolved (can omit this step but the toppings may stick less well)
  8. Remove from the refrigerator and divide into 16 pieces (can divide into fewer pieces for larger pretzels).
  9. Roll each piece of dough into a long snake then shape as desired, into a pretzel knot, alphabet letter, shape, etc.
  10. Dunk the pretzel into the baking soda/water mixture and if still hot, remove using a slotted spoon. Place on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper or silicone mat. Top with coarse salt, cinnamon sugar, or any other desired toppings.
  11. Cover with a towel and let rise for 15 minutes while the oven is preheating to 400F.
  12. Bake at 400F for 15-20 minutes until golden brown.
  13. Brush with 2 tablespoons melted butter. Best enjoyed warm.

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“Go Red” for Heart Health Snack Mix

February is Heart Health month and today, February 7, is “Go Red for Women” Day, an event to raise awareness of heart disease in females. So to help support this cause, I’m sharing a recipe for a delicious snack mix that not only has beautiful red cranberries to help us “go red,” but also has some heart health benefits. Plus with Valentine’s Day only a week away, this is a great snack to share with your Valentine, young or old. And that’s excellent for your heart too!

"Go Red" for Heart Health Snack Mix

I’ve never thought too hard about “recipes” for trail mix or the like since you pretty much toss together a bunch of yummy snacks in a bowl or bag and go. But I came across this delectable combination of dried coconut, dried cranberries, and chocolate chips in a packaged snack mix and loved the flavors and figured I could do it myself for a fraction of the cost.

Coconuts are pretty trendy in the food world now and there is lots of research going on in the nutrition and medical fields regarding potential benefits of coconut water, coconut milk, coconut oil, and just plain old coconut. Some studies have shown advantageous effects on cholesterol from ingesting coconut oil. Point 1 for heart health!

Then we come to cranberries. Polyphenols, which are found in cranberries as well as other foods, are thought to be great for cardiovascular health also by improving cholesterol as well as through some anti-clotting and anti-inflammatory mechanisms. Yay cranberries!

And finally chocolate. No one needs to give me any scientific argument to eat (and enjoy) chocolate. But just in case you need a heart healthy reason to indulge, here you go…just like cranberries, flavonoids are found in cocoa and chocolate. They have anti-oxidant properties which also have anti-clotting and anti-inflammatory benefits. They also might help lower blood pressure which improves circulation to the heart. Yes please! Benefits are the best with dark chocolate (which includes the semi-sweet chocolate used here).

image from American Heart Association website

image from American Heart Association website

I recommend not using the shredded dried coconut from the baking aisle and rather finding actual dried coconut pieces from the dried fruit section. The flavor and nutrition benefits are so much better and since it’s one of only three ingredients in this snack, it is really highlighted, so the better quality coconut is totally worth it. I found mine at Costco but I imagine it’s available at some supermarkets as well as natural food stores.

"Cocoa"-Nuts for You Snack Mix

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“Go Red” for Heart Health Snack Mix

Yield: approximately 3 cups

2 cups dried coconut chunks (we found them at Costco), chopped into small pieces

1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

1/2 cup dried cranberries

Directions:

Combine all ingredients in a bowl. Share with someone you love! Store leftovers in an airtight container.

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