(Family Features) Snacking is something just about everyone indulges in. Whether it's to calm cravings between meals or for a quick boost of afternoon energy, it's easy to reach for whatever's handy. That can lead to some less than ideal choices, but it doesn't have to be that way.
Trish Magwood, author of James Beard award-winning cookbook "Dish Entertains," shares simple secrets to keep your pantry stocked with ingredients to ensure you can prepare smart snacks with ease.
"As a busy working mother, it's all about being a good food shopper and keeping the pantry stocked so that I'm armed and ready to whip up a quick meal or snack on-the-fly, for either myself or the kids," said Magwood. The key to her smart snacking success is starting with plenty of almonds.
Here are some ideas for stocking your pantry:
- Whole natural almonds. Nothing beats a handful of crunchy whole natural almonds. Keep some on hand for a quick snack or a flavorful add-in for meals like salads, stir-fries or pasta dishes.
- Almond milk. "I use this essential ingredient for smoothies, soups, chicken casseroles, cream pasta sauces and baked goods," said Magwood.
- Dried fruit. Stock up on chopped apricots, cranberries, and raisins to make your own trail mix. With almonds as a base, your ready-made trail mix is perfect for stroller walks, car rides or office snacks. If you haven't prepared the mix ahead of time, simply grab a few handfuls of each ingredient and pop them into a resealable bag or container.
Magwood has some sweet and savory ways to enjoy almonds as an anytime snack:
- For a quick bite of heat, enjoy some spicy nuts: whole almonds sprinkled with chili flakes and sautéed garlic. They are the perfect computer-side nosh (and they also double as a quick and simple host gift).
- For a sweet fix, use chopped almonds with melted chocolate as a fun fondue dip for fruits like pineapples, pears, apples, oranges and bananas.
Magwood developed this Garlic and Hot Pepper Toasted Almonds recipe for Almond Board of California. Get more smart snacking ideas and recipes like her Cheddar, Chive and Almond Milk Scones at www.almondboard.com/trishmagwood.