Posts in Travel

Vanilla Cinnamon Almonds

June 3rd, 2016 Posted by DIY, Food, Snacks, Travel 1 comment

If you invite me to go on a road trip with you, anything that is an hour or longer, I will bring snacks. I will also bring extra water, sunscreen and music.

This is what happened on a recent trip to Medford, OR with a couple of girlfriends. Nothing makes driving more enjoyable then munching on some homemade almonds! This recipe was also inspired by a hiking trip with my cousin. We were eating some snacks during a hike and she brought up the idea of cinnamon almonds. “Mmm” I thought, “What a great combination!” Thus, this recipe was born. These spiced nuts are also EGG FREE! (yep, some spiced nut recipes use egg-white to bind the seasonings to the nuts, but since I’m egg intolerant, I like to find better ways…)


Ginger Almonds

April 9th, 2015 Posted by Appetizers, Snacks, Travel No Comment yet

ginger almonds healthy

I try to be healthy. Really I do. Sometimes I’m all cake and ice cream, and other times I’m like, GIVE ME MORE SALAD! It’s just a weird balance I try to maintain. These nuts help. I love to snack on a little something in the evening or before dinner. I love that these have ginger, and a little Bragg’s Liquid Aminos (in place of soy sauce) to give it some deep savory flavor. Almonds are so tasty! They are healthy for you too, check out this article: 9 Health Benefits of Almonds.

So you may be wondering about the Bragg’s Liquid Aminos… well it’s a great soy sauce alternative. I use it because it has way less sodium then soy sauce, and it’s non-GMO. Did you know that just 1 tablespoon of soy sauce has almost 40% of your recommend daily intake? Last year, my doctor told me that my blood pressure was a pretty high. I started to make some lifestyle changes (I still struggle with consistently exercising, but I’m getting better!) That’s when I started really watching my sodium last year I was reading labels like crazy. I even looked up how much sodium our favorite Papa Murphy’s pizza has… and guess what? We never got Papa Murphy’s again, it was THAT bad. (also, if you click the link to look at the nutrition facts of PM Pizza, keep in mind the serving size… I don’t know think I’ve ever seen anyone cut a pizza into 12 slices, and often when we had pizza for dinner I usually had 2-3 slices, which is maxing out the daily recommended sodium amount of 2,300mg for those under 51. You can read more here.)

But the good news is it all paid off and my blood pressure levels are now back within the normal range. It taught me SUCH a valuable lesson though, read the labels, look at the serving sizes, and as always, make what you can from scratch with less salt. Your taste buds adjust and after awhile, you actually don’t even want all those high-sodium things anymore-they start to taste too salty! One more low-sodium tip: watch out for one of the biggest culprits–canned soups and stocks. 

So just because I had to cut back on salt doesn’t mean that I can’t enjoy some delicious snacks! Alton Brown made these during is “Good Eats” episode, “Live and Let Diet”. If you are trying to lose a few lbs. check out this episode! He is full of great tips. 

I love how the ginger coating stays on these almonds… no egg white or corn syrup involved! I served these as an appetizer to some discerning eaters, and they loved them! 

ginger almonds healthy

ginger almonds healthy

 Ginger Almonds, slightly adapted from Alton Brown’s “Good Eats” episode “Live and Let Diet”

Ginger Almonds
Recipe Type: Snacks, Appetizers
Author: Sugar Pickles
Prep time:
Cook time:
Total time:
Serves: 4 cups
  • 1 tablespoon ground ginger
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 2 small dried arbol chile, broken into small pieces
  • 1 pound whole natural almonds
  • 2 teaspoons olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon dark sesame oil
  • 1 tablespoon Bragg’s Liquid Aminos (or sodium-less soy sauce)
  • 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
  1. Heat the oven to 250 degrees F.
  2. Combine the ginger and salt in a small bowl and set aside.
  3. In a large sauté pan or cast iron skillet over medium-low heat add the arbol chile and cook, stirring frequently, until the chile begins to give off an aroma, 30 to 45 seconds. Put the chili pieces in a large mixing bowl and add in the almonds, olive oil, sesame oil, Braggs or soy sauce, and the Worcestershire. Mix until all the almonds look shiny and coated, then sprinkle over the ginger and salt mixture and toss thoroughly, until the nuts look evenly coated with the ginger mixture.
  4. Spread the coated nuts into a single layer on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and bake in the oven for 20 minutes. Remove the pan to a cooling rack for at least 30 minutes or until completely cool. Store in an airtight container for up to 1 week.


Super Recipe Post: Kale Polenta Burritos and Travel Snacks

August 20th, 2014 Posted by Snacks, Travel No Comment yet


Here you go! A super recipe post and a few notes about traveling with family on planes or in cars. You can make all these travel snacks ahead of time, up to a week in advance.

It’s really important to take snacks when you travel. Especially on planes, where any actual food is a rare sight. When traveling with family, I think 90% of arguments, tiffs and otherwise nasty comments can be avoided when you don’t let yourself (or them!) get too hungry, tired or dehydrated. My preemptive strike on family feuds is: take food. It works! 

So, WHAT do you take? I flew to San Diego last month and here’s what I brought with me: 

  1. Something substantial that doesn’t have to be refrigerated, will taste good hot or cold, and has some decent nutrition value
  2. Something salty.
  3. Something sweet. 
  4. All of these must have protein to avoid mass airport meltdown. Some of these should have sugars/carbs that are faster to break down, giving your body and blood sugar an instant (but healthy) spike. All of these should be delicious and easy to eat on the go.

 So here’s what I packed: 

  • Kale Polenta Burritos (recipe at the end of this post)
  • Cajun spiced mixed nuts
  • Cashew cranberry coconut granola 
  • Various bagged cookies/crackers
  • Dried fruit, specifically apricots and dried blueberries (fiber and vitamins)
  • Ginger candies (for upset tummies and to generally soothe), I like Gin-Gins made by The Ginger People

I put everything in a small (lunch box-ish sized) cooler (sans ice pack) and we used it the whole trip as the snack and water bag. 


My mom is gluten free, so I brought bagged snacks that she could eat too. If there are dietary restrictions in your family it can be tricky to keep everyone happy. But by swapping gluten free oats for regular oats in the granola and a gluten free wrap in the burrito, you should be good to go. 

These burritos are one of those things that happened by accident and we’ve been making them on purpose ever since. Joel invented them when we had leftover polenta and chorizo and they are satisfying and unexpected. I never would have thought to put polenta in a burrito, but it fits! It’s like creamy scrambled eggs. I’m egg intolerant, so anything that resembles creamy scrambled eggs (but actually isn’t) is addictive to me. They are pretty self explanatory, so I’m just going to give you the basics. I have confidence you can make a “house” version based on this that will be equally delicious. 

Here’s how to layer the burrito: 

Super green arugula pesto goes down first. 

kale polenta burritos with pesto

Then add the cooked, cooled and cut polenta. I love this recipe. Any leftovers we don’t eat for dinner I spread it out and let it cool in a small sheet pan, then slice it into rough bars. 

kale polenta burritos

Pile on sautéed kale.  This one is close to what I do but not exactly; maybe I’ll have to post my own kale recipe soon.

kale polenta burritos

Top it all with some seasoned “scrambled” tofu (I just cook firm or soft tofu in a saute pan and sprinkle on some Braggs organic sprinkle seasoning.) 

kale polenta burritos with scrambled tofu

 I wrap them all and then pan sear them. The pan searing helps to seal the burrito, and when you are eating it later it feels more like a legit cooked meal, even if it’s cold. 

I make a bunch, 6-8 at a time, and put some in the freezer, wrapped in freezer paper and labeled, for easy lunches or dinners.



I sear each larger side (top/bottom) then use the tongs to hold it in place to sear the narrower sides. It’s a handy trick! You sort of just half close the tongs while they are holding on to the burrito, then let the tongs rest on the side of the pan. Turn it over to the other side after a few minutes. 


Here they are, all cooked. After they cool, I’ll wrap them up in freezer paper, and label them. 



To reheat from the freezer, the toaster oven works best. Thawed in the fridge overnight, they take about 15-20 minutes at 400 degrees, to heat from frozen, it might be about 30-40 minutes. The outside gets nice and crispy again, just like they were right out of the pan. 

So, on to the nuts! 

I make a lot of spiced nuts, and usually the recipe varies every time. This method is a variation on the Sweet and Spicy Hazelnuts that Kathy Casey outlines in her wonderful, useful, and tasty book Kathy Casey’s Northwest Table.

Spiced Nuts


1 pound raw nuts or about 3 cups (I use a mix of walnuts, pecans, cashews and peanuts)

1 egg white

1 tablespoon water

1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper

1/2 teaspoon onion powder

1/2 teaspoon garlic powder

1/4 teaspoon paprika

2 teaspoons kosher salt

1/2 teaspoon fresh cracked pepper


Preheat the oven to 350 F. Spread the nuts on a large rimmed baking sheet and bake for about 7 minutes until they are lightly toasted. Remove from the oven and let them cool. Do something else for 10 minutes and reduce the oven to 250 F. 

In a medium bowl, whisk the egg and the water until foamy. Add the cooled nuts and toss to coat, then let drain in a colander while you combine the other ingredients. 

Mix the spices, salt and pepper in a large bowl. Add the drained nuts and toss to coat thoroughly. 

Spread the nuts back onto the baking sheet and bake 25-30 more minutes. The nuts will appear dry when they are done. 

Loosen them from the baking sheet and let them cool to room temperature on the sheet. It is important to let them cool completely on the sheet before storing them in an airtight container. 

These nuts are addictive. 

Now, here’s the granola! This one is from Whole-Grain Mornings by Megan Gordon. It’s my variation on the make-your-own signature granola. As Megan suggests in her sweet book, modify as you like based on what tastes good to you. 

Cashew Cranberry Granola


3 cups rolled oats (not quick oats)

2 cups raw cashews

1 cup raw pumpkin seeds

1/2 cup flaked unsweetened coconut

1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom

1/2 cup olive oil

1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon honey (local if possible)

1/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

1/4 cranberries


Preheat the oven to 350 F. Line a large baking sheet (13×18 inches) with parchment paper. 

In a large bowl, combine the oats, cashews, pumpkin seeds, coconut, salt and all the spices together. In a smaller bowl, combine the oil, honey and vanilla, then drizzle over the oat mixture and stir well. 

Turn the granola out on to the prepared pan and spread in an even layer. Bake until the mixture is light brown and smells up your kitchen with toasty heartiness. This will take about 35-40 minutes. You should stir it every 15-20 minutes, and keep an eye on the coconut, as that can burn easily. It might not look crunchy, but it gets firm when it cools. 

Let it cool on the pan until completely room temperature, then mix in the cranberries. Store in an airtight container or divide into quart sized bags for traveling with or snacking on in the car. 

Megan says, we can even freeze granola up to 3 months. 

So there you are! My first super recipe post, put together just for you and your last summer vacations for 2014. I hope you have fun, make memories, and keep sane! 

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