Eight hours or more in the office and dinner is a couple of hours away. Yes, sometimes you gotta snack at the office.
Apparently, I am not the only one snacking at the office. The percentage of energy Americans derive from snacks has doubled since the 1970's.
In the US, snacking has evolved into an actual meal category. Sales of snack foods have reached more than $64 billion dollars. Food companies have developed an almost endless array of snacks. From savory to sweet. Think potato chips and jerky. Oreo cookies ring a bell?
So why all the snacking?
We are on the move more. We consume less traditional meals around the table. Consumers are asking for snacks that are portable, easy/fast, value priced, healthy, delicious and shareable.
While I agree with this list, I have a few requirements of my own. I want a snack that makes me happy. Broccoli is out, but broccoli with ranch dip is a possibility. I also want some nutritional value and I want it to hold me over until dinner.
Here is one of my favorite snacks to make. It has chocolate - I'm happy now. And I use dark chocolate to get more antioxidants. A mixture of nuts, because I like the crunch.
I like dried fruit for sweetness and the chew. Depending on how I feel, I might add something for flavoring, vanilla, candied ginger. If it's a grown up snack, a liqueur, such as amaretto or orange can be good additions.
French Chocolate Bark
Makes 10 to 12 pieces.
½ cup nuts, toasted and chopped, your choice
7 ounces dark chocolate
¾ cup dried fruit, chopped, your choice
1 teaspoon vanilla, optional
1. Preheat oven to 300°F. Spread nuts on a baking dish or cookie sheet. Bake for 8 to 10 minutes.
2. Place half the chocolate in a microwave safe bowl and microwave on high for 20 to 30 seconds. Stir and continue to heat in 30 second increments until the chocolate is melted. Add the remaining chocolate and vanilla. Allow to sit at room temperature, stirring occasionally.
3. Pour chocolate onto a parchment-lined baking sheet. Spread to desired thickness.
4. Sprinkle nuts and dried fruit onto chocolate. Gently press nuts and fruit into chocolate. Set aside until completely firm, about 1 to 2 hours. Break into desired sizes.
Source: Adapted from Back to Basics from The Barefoot Contessa.
Lastly, don't forget plain fruit for snacking. Yes, fruit does make me happy. Apples, pears, bananas, peaches, and oranges are extremely portable.