Got a craving for a little something? When a cookie won't do, potato chips are a no-no and rice cakes are a bore, why not reach for a crunchy pickle?!
While you may not have thought of them as a snack, pickles make a terrific munchie. For one thing, low-calorie pickles -- there's only 15 in a large dill -- won't ruin appetites or destroy diets. And while there's no fat in pickled vegetables, there is good nutrition. Snacking on 1/8 cup of pickles counts as one of the 5 daily servings of fruits and vegetables the USDA recommends.
Of course, the best and easiest way to nosh on pickles is right from the jar and out of hand. Some companies have developed pickles specifically for snacking! However, there's a host of other ideas for tasty pickle snacks:
- For a Southwestern-style snack, warm low-fat cream cheese in the microwave till softened and stir in picante sauce, chopped dill pickles and chopped pickled cherry peppers. Serve with tortilla chips. If you favor spicy flavors, add some zippy pickled jalapeno rings to the mix.
- Serve pickle "hors d'oeuvres" to pint-size snackers. Cut up sweet, dill or refrigerated pickles into bite-size chunks and place on a paper plate. Let kids eat as finger food.
- Wrap a baby dill or sweet gherkin with a slice of lean ham or smoked turkey. For a different twist, spread the meat with low-fat cream cheese first.
- For notoriously impatient teenagers, keep several different types of pickles and pickled peppers in the refrigerator for quick snacking. Teens -- who, by the way, identified pickles as one of their favorite vegetables in a recent survey -- will be more likely to pick the pickles if they're as easy to grab as the empty-calorie, high-fat snacks.
- Younger kids will go for cool pickle pops -- chilled large dill pickles skewered with an ice cream stick. A bonus: there are no messy drips like with colored ice pops or ice cream bars.
- Pickle Kabobs are a fun snack for all ages. Thread alternating chunks of pickle, whole pickled pepperoncini peppers, cheddar cheese, carrot chunks (a minute or two in the microwave will make the carrots soft enough to spear), olives, ham or salami on wooden skewers, alternating colors for an attractive presentation. Pickle Kabobs can be made a day ahead and kept refrigerated in a covered plastic container.
- Give a change-up to a grilled cheese sandwich by adding a layer of chopped pickled cherry peppers or bread and butter pickles between the cheese slices. After grilling, cut the sandwich into squares, rectangles, triangles and circles for a quick lesson in shapes while snacking.
- For a heartier nosh try a bagel snack. Corned beef, sauerkraut, Swiss cheese and Russian dressing turn a pumpernickel bagel into a delicious Reuben Bagel. Or, make a Pizza bagel with tomato sauce, shredded mozzarella cheese and pickled pepper rings on a garlic or plain bagel.
Go ahead and munch a bunch of pickles!