Table Talk: NaNoWriMo Snack Attack!
This may seem a tad off-topic. I mean, this is a FOOD blog, right? Yes, it is. Today I want to talk to you about snacks. I also want to address and recognize all of you out there who participate in the national writing event and challenge called NaNoWriMo. That stands for National Novel Writing Month. It is where writers from all over attempt to write 50,000 words in 30 days. This will be my fifth year in NaNoWriMo but with the many events it has during the year, I have put down quite a few words to paper. It is a major challenge but it creates a lot of challenges in the home, as well. In particular, the NaNoWriMo snack attack!
Ok, ok. I may be a bit overdramatic, but it is something we face. We writers are stuck at a keyboard for hours at a time, forgetting that we have to eat real food and not live on candy and potato chips. And it’s not just us. How about you students out there cramming for that exam or writing that theses? I am sure this problem crosses a lot of our desks. There is always something out there that suddenly gets us totally obsessed to the point we forget we hadn’t eaten or that our children and husbands (or wives) are boring holes into the back of our heads waiting for their dinner.
November is also the kickoff to the holiday season so things are going to get chaotic. Family will arrive a week or two early, the kids will go on vacation, not to mention everyone will be inside more due to cooler weather. That fridge door will get a workout if we don’t put out that snack fire right now!
Over the next two weeks, I will be here with ideas and recipes for snacks, freezer meals, dump & go dinners, and other tidbits to get us all through the month of November. For now, let’s get the case of the nibbles handled.
How About a Drink?
- coffee – This is a must for most of us. I keep a pot brewing at all times. Remember to treat yourself with a flavored creamer. You deserve it!
- tea – Whether you like it hot or cold, tea is a treat. Especially with all the varieties we have to choose from. I make a variation of it where I brew a strong cup of Chai and Green Tea, then add creamer and a splash of coffee. How do you like your tea?
- water – You must keep hydrated! Even if you flavor your water with one of those flavor drops or with lemon and cucumber slices, just do it. We can’t have you getting dehydrated at the peak of your creativity, now can we?
- Instant Breakfast – If you think you just cannot stop long enough to eat, an instant breakfast drink will give you the vitamins you need and take the edge off your hunger.
Battling the Snack Monster
Chocolate fends off all kinds of nasty stuff. And if you get hungry while warding off evil, you have a snack. It’s multipurpose equipment.
— Jim Butcher
During NaNoWriMo, I have enough to think about without the constant cravings kicking in. Writer’s block is a tough enough monster to fight. After all, to get 50,000 words in I have to have just under 1700 words a day written. I know you students out there go through the same thing. Moms and dads have to fight the snack monster daily, if not for themselves, for their kids. Let’s fix that by making convenient grab & go snacks.
You know those small plastic storage containers that always comes in the big sets we buy? I used to look at these and ask, “And what am I supposed to store in these little things?” Now, they are the perfect size for make-ahead snacks. I also use pint and half-pint Mason jars. They are convenient to grab out of the fridge without making too much of a fuss. Let’s fill those babies!
- yogurt – Make up your own yogurt cups! Chop your favorite fruits and fill the container anywhere from 1/4 to 1/3 of the way. Fill the rest of it with your favorite yogurt and top with granola, chopped nuts, or my favorite, Grape-Nuts cereal.
- popcorn – Popcorn comes in so many varieties and quantities, it is hard t pass this one up. Whether you like it carmelized like Cracker Jacks and Crunch-n-Munch, or just plain, you can find it anywhere. My local store sells it by the mega-bag in different flavors. Growing up, we would have fun jiggling the covered pot of raw popcorn and butter over the fire. Now we can just go buy a box of convenient packets. Did you know you could make your own packets for the microwave? You will use small brown paper bags that are for lunches. Put 1/4 cup dried popcorn in and fold in. Make up several. When you get that yen, put it in the microwave for a minute and a half or on the popcorn setting. Every microwave is different and you will have to experiment. Then flavor it as you desire! I keep white cheddar popcorn seasoning on hand for mine.
- pretzels – These are a nice clean snack that won’t dust up your fingers r your keyboard. They are also fat-free so no guilt here!
- crackers – Ah, this is as good as the popcorn! You can get everything from salted to no salt, good ole’ square saltines or round and buttery. They also come in different sizes and flavors. My late husband used to keep a plate piled high with peanut butter crackers for the kids when they got home from school. They loved those little homemade sandwich crackers. You can do the same with cream cheese. Triscuits are also great this way!
- cracker fillers – Sausage, salami, and cheese slices are great pre-cut and grabbable to join a sleeve of crackers for that long sit. I have also been known to have a jar of peanut butter on my desk to accompany those lonely crackers.
- fresh fruits and veggies – Fill those containers with veggies and fruits cut to size. Carrots and celery can be cut into discs or sticks. Grapes and other berries are already bite-size. Sliced apples and pears are great to keep on hand. Remember to add a bit of lemon juice to the container and shake well to prevent browning.
- convenient fruits – Bananas and oranges have to be peeled but are awesome since you can keep them out and handy to grab.
- Mix it up! – For a high vitamin boost snack, try a bowl with grapes, cubed cheese, small crackers, and a dip or smear?
- boiled eggs – Boiled eggs will keep for a week in the fridge, peeled or not. They are great on their own or ready to slice for a quick salad.
- nuts and trail mix – You can make your own trail mix with a blend of what you really like. Nuts, granola, M&M’s, Reese’s Pieces, etc.
- dried fruits – Fruits are good regardless but having them already in bite-sized pieces is amazing! Keep a mix of dried or dehydrated fruits available for a sweet treat.
- Chex Mix – I may be old but I remember when Chex Mix was just that. Chex Mix. You had to buy it and it only came in one flavor. Now there are different flavors and brands for variations of it. You can make it yourself using whatever Chex cereals you have plus adding a few snacks like pretzels, nuts and bread crackers, butter, Worchestershire Sauce, and seasonings. Here is a great recipe offered by Chex.com.
- snack bars – Gotta love the snack bar. They can be protein bars, fruit and nut bars, minced fruits, or even chocolate filled. I grab these before getting tempted by the candy bar or random cookie.
- jerky – Jerky doesn’t just come in beef nowadays. Turkey, chicken, and fish have joined in the fun. Don’t forget the Fruit Roll-ups, as well.
- dips and smears – You have a lot of choices of finger foods here but they are always good with a dip, hummus, or smear. Whip some cream cheese with herbs and you have the perfect smear for crackers or dip for veggies. Same with sour cream. throw in some Italian seasoning or Ranch Dressing mix and you have a party!
The Convenience of Convenience Foods
I know I am trying to show you a healthier way to curb those munchies for your NaNoWriMo snack but the convenience foods that are out there can certainly be enjoyed in moderation. But let’s steer clear of the tempting potato chips that we devour in one sitting. If you must have it, try for the baked varieties. Just sayin’.
- frozen burritos
- pizza rolls
- egg rolls
- frozen pizzas
- Hot Pockets
Winning the Battle!
Whether you are an aspiring novelist, a student trying to get that final paper in, or just in the battle against the snack attack in general, I hope I have given you a few good ideas about making your own versions of snacks to keep on hand. Let’s get those words in, NaNo-buddies, and I can’t wait to read your next masterpiece!