Friday, January 27, 2012

In a hurry? A grab-n-go snack or meal

We know that store a bought single serving size of just about anything is not a healthy choice.  But so temptingly convenient!  Here is an idea that is easy, satisfying, and can be made up in advance twice a week and has as many variations as you can come up with.
Why so black, you ask?  This version is made with wild elderberries that I picked while walking the dogs last summer.  When ripe, they are so purple that they look black.  But these little berries that grow like weeds are packed with super antioxidants and are worth the effort for your winter diet.  Caution:  Do not eat them raw!  They are poisonous raw, which means the birds leave them alone....more for you!  The poison is neutralized through cooking, drying, or fermenting, as in making wine. 

What you see in the pictures is my homemade goat's milk chevre, a mild, fresh, raw cheese that is so easy to make.  I'll do a tutorial on making chevre next time I make it.  For those not able to make chevre or to purchase it for a reasonable price, yogurt is a good substitute. 

Look for the organic brands of yogurt in the quart container, plain, unsweetened, and made from whole low-fat allowed!  Low fat milk products usually have powdered milk added to them, and it does not have to be labelled.  Legally, powdered milk is considered to be milk....but biologically, your body does not recognize it as it is so damaged through the processing.  It is an ingredient to be avoided.  Remember, if your great-great-great grandmother (or somebody elses.....avocados would be off my list, otherwise) wouldn't recognize it, you shouldn't eat it!

In my days BG (before goats), I would strain my purchased yogurt.  I seriously disliked the particular sour that is yogurt, although I do love other sour tastes.  Straining it reduces that sour taste dramatically and thickens the yogurt to a lovely cream cheese texture.  It is a simple as lining a colander with a layer or two of cloth....I used a piece cut from a thick t-shirt....and putting that over a bowl.  Plop the yogurt into the cloth, cover it with the corners of the cloth to keep it clean, and leave it at room temp for several hours.  The whey (liquid) will drain much better at warmer temperatures.  Just keep the cats out of it.  This is basically Greek yogurt.

Whether you use cheese, yogurt, or strained yogurt, the next step is to choose your fruit to flavor it with.  You may slightly sweeten the cheese/yogurt with a little stevia or raw local wildflower honey, but I don't. 

The fruit can be almost anything you like, and can be fresh, frozen, or a cooked sauce.  Look at pie recipes for ideas.  Some of the things I use are frozen berries, lightly sweetened with stevia, and used frozen or thawed.  I also like apples, diced and simmered with a handful of organic raisins to sweeten them and some cinnamon and butter.  Pears and raspberries or elderberries are a wonderful combination, too, but remember to simmer the elderberries for a while (20 minutes or more, until the bitter taste is gone) and don't simmer the raspberries, just add them when the pears are done and stir gently, off the heat.  A mince pie version can be made by using more raisins to apples and adding more spices....throw in cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, ginger, and cloves, and plenty of it.  Simmered peaches are wonderful.  Plums and blueberries go great together.  Strawberries, fresh or frozen, are wonderful.....mash half of the berries with a potato masher or the back of a fork for the sauce, and slice the rest.

Add a big glob of butter to your cooked fruit.  Good fats will lower the glycemic load of the fruit and will keep it from spiking your blood sugar levels.  Your body will thank you by resting your adrenal glands and also by not triggering the fat storage response.  Our great-great-great grandmothers knew this instinctively and always added lots of butter to fruit pies before putting that top lard crust on.  Obesity was not an issue in their households, either. 

Line up some small canning jars.... I use 8 oz jelly jars, but if your kids are small, you can use the 4 oz jars, too.  These are available in hardware stores, farm stores, and even grocery stores (in season...some farm and hardware stores will have them year-round or can order them for you.)  It is very handy to purchase the white plastic caps that are made to fit on the jars, too, since you won't be actually canning this.  If you are on a tight budget, recycle whatever small jars you have or that friends will save for you.

Put a generous spoonful of cheese or yogurt into the jar and smooth it out a bit.  Then put in a tablespoon or so of your fruit mixture.  Continue layering until your jar is full, ending with fruit.
Prepare for these to disappear at an alarming rate!

Extra hint:  Both mayo jar lids and Classico pasta sauce jar lids fit on these canning jars.  If you know someone who still uses these products (you don't use them, right?) ask them to save the lids for you.  People will!  Just keep asking! 


  1. yummm.... never thought about cooking the fruit.

  2. I've gotten dozens of canning jars thro the years from tag sales. You can also find the metal lids, but I've never seen the plastic covers. I had to buy those locally.

    These look like wonderful snacks.

  3. They are so yummy! I have some pears ripening on the counter now, to make some pear-elderberry sauce for the next batch.

  4. Cinnamon is a great additive to yogurt to avoid sugar. I found that I can add it to any plain yogurt and I don't even miss the sugar!

  5. Thanks, Elicia! I'd never have thought of cinnamon. I wonder what some other spices would do....nutmeg, allspice, along with cinnamon...