Amy’s (author of Simply Sugar & Gluten Free and soon-to-be author of a gluten-free, sugar-free cookbook!) roundup for this week’s Slightly Indulgent Tuesdays is all about healthier snacks. Amy says she receives many requests for healthy snacks and is asking her readers for help. I suspect we all know how to serve up healthier snacks, but we get bored with the seemingly mundane apples, bananas, baby carrots, celery sticks, and the like. We want something more inventive. We want a snack that appeals to all our senses and excites us just a little bit. Wasn’t your interest piqued by “bruschetta” in the title? Consider the chickpea and cucumber factors and you may be even more intrigued.
Let’s talk more about what we’re looking for in our snacks. Often with healthier snacks, it’s the presentation alone that makes the snack appealing. Take an apple, cut it into slices, arrange the slices into a pinwheel design on a plate, leave it on the kitchen counter, and I guarantee that the apple slices will magically disappear. And, that’s without the benefit of any dips or special topping. However, if I didn’t cut the apple and place it out for public snacking, it would stay in the basket on our kitchen counter until it literally shriveled up. I’m usually the only one who eats apple in their natural state at our house, but even I enjoy apple slices more than eating a whole apple. Attractive and bite-sized, with no work involved–that’s what we consumers really want in our healthy snacks.
A recent mention in Better Homes and Gardens magazine shared some ideas for chickpeas. The first was a roasted version, which used olive oil, salt, and black pepper. As you know, I love roasted chickpeas, but I think I’ll stick with my version, which uses olive oil and cayenne pepper as shown here. (Of course, any seasoning of your choice can be used.) Two other chickpea ideas appealed to me though: cucumber bruschetta and spiced chickpea couscous (remember couscous is only safe if made from brown rice like this product, which I have not yet tried). I decided to pull some of the ideas presented from each suggestion to come up with a healthy, yet appealing snack for today’s Slightly Indulgent roundup.
This Cucumber Chickpea Bruschetta is perfect for simple family snacking or elegant enough to serve as an appetizer at a dinner party. I’d even go so far as to say that one could have this bruschetta as a meal. Plus, it’s gluten free, dairy free, sugar free, soy free, corn free, yeast free, and egg free. For folks with intolerances and/or allergies, that puts tasty “bruschetta” on their table—with no baking. And, yes, this bruschetta is even vegan. No matter on our eating needs, for all of us, it’s a nice way to get in one’s veggies, fruit, and protein. I also like the fact that it’s a cold snack-—that’s very much appreciated with this heat wave we’ve been having. In fact, Mr. GFE gave this recipe two thumbs up and said that he liked the cucumber slice as the base better than traditional bread or even crackers. He explained that the cucumber slices are so juicy, one doesn’t have to keep sipping on a beverage every few seconds. He also suggested that shrimp would be perfect on these little bruschettas. As I’ve said before, we really do think adding shrimp makes just about any appetizer or entree better. No shrimp was needed though as we sampled this bruschetta before eating some steamed crabs. However, it’s amazingly filling. We had to stop after only a few. I’m taking the rest to work today, and I know they’ll be well received.
Cucumber Chickpea Bruschetta
(Click here for a printable version of this recipe.)
can of drained chickpeas, mashed
juice of about one-fourth of a lemon
chopped basil or other herbs and seasonings (e.g., dill, cumin, garlic, crushed red pepper flakes)
salsa (see notes below)
Slice cucumbers thick enough that they can hold some weight. (See photo.)
In a large bowl, add chickpeas and lemon juice. Mix well. Mash chickpeas with a potato masher or back of a spoon. They do not have to be fully mashed, just spreadable (or “spoonable”).
Spread chickpea mixture onto cucumber slices using a spoon.
Mix tomatoes, onions, herbs, and seasonings. Spoon onto chickpea-topped slices.
Top chickpea-topped cucumber slices with a small spoonful of salsa. Serve.
Adapted from Better Homes and Gardens magazine
Shirley’s Notes: I used a seedless cucumber as I think they are a bit sturdier and I like the lack of seeds. Chickpeas are much more difficult to mash by hand than black beans; I was surprised. Just mash enough to be able to place on the cucumber slice. With the remaining chunkiness and their coloring, the mashed chickpeas almost look like shredded cheddar cheese, which is not a bad thing when one is eating dairy free. We had some peach-mango salsa leftover from our weekend camping trip with Son and his friends, which I used as topping for half of these bruschetta. (Incidentally, I’m not sure on the plural of buschetta. I just found out I was saying the word wrong after all these years. Apparently there’s the correct pronunciation and then the Americanized pronunciation.) Just a dab of salsa from a spoon on top of the chickpea mixture was all that was needed. The resulting bruschetta was really lovely, with so many flavors and textures … all working well together. These are very addictive for a healthy snack! Incidentally, this would be a great recipe to get the kids involved in, too.
Carrie’s (Ginger Lemon Girl) 30 Days of Quick and Easy Meals continues on. My Tasty Meat Loaf … in Mere Minutes is the featured recipe today. Note that my post is as much about a method as it is a recipe. If you have a favorite meat loaf recipe, you could certainly use that. Check out my guest post here. Be sure to check out all the other great recipes that have been shared to date and check back until the end of the event, and in the future. This one month of meals from so many great gluten-free folks could keep you in meal ideas for months to come. Maybe you’ll find—as I did with the Blackened Black Bean Burgers—that one great idea will just lead to another. That’s my favorite way to create in the kitchen!
Finally, there’s even more link love in the gluten-free blogosphere right now—all conveying some terrific, “must-have” info. My new, very sweet friend, Tia, of Glugle Gluten Free, dedicated her latest post to me because my suggestion on Elana’s Chocolate Chip Cookies worked. Woohoo for Tia’s success and Elana’s Gluten-Free, Dairy-Free Chocolate Chip Cookies! Check out Tia’s delectable version here. My other, super lovely friend, Heidi, who amazes me every day with her energy and all she’s doing to spread celiac/gluten intolerance/gluten sensitivity awareness, just shared a fabulous summary post of everything gluten free. Heidi’s roundup is so good that I may let myself off the hook for posting one this week (unless something else earth-shattering happens in our gluten-free world, of course). And, thanks, Heidi, for mentioning several posts from gfe! Be sure to check out Heidi’s post here. And, look for her upcoming article on her atypical symptoms of celiac in the next issue of Journal of Gluten Sensitivity, too.
All for now, folks … enjoy!
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