Four Unexpected Foods You Should Try this Holiday Season
1. Chocolate hummus
Yes, you heard me right. Chocolate hummus. Now you’re probably thinking one of two things: 1) That is not a real thing, or, 2) There is no way that’s good. But I care about my Force Family, so I want to let you all in on one of the modern world’s best kept secrets.
First of all, it is a real thing. I didn’t believe my ears either. During Thanksgiving dinner (of all places), my dad would not stop talking about the chocolate hummus someone had brought to his work a couple days beforehand. He said it was newly carried at the Kroger down the street from our house. I didn’t believe him, so I went to Kroger the next day – and sure enough, I found chocolate hummus. Of course I bought some, because my second thought was, “There’s no way this is good, but on the off-chance that it is, it could change my life.” Turns out, it’s not just good – it’s sinfully delicious. It tastes exactly like chocolate icing, but it is way healthier. Don’t take my word for it, though, try it for yourself.
Where to find it: The only place I have successfully found it in Bloomington is the Kroger on College Ave. The brand is Boar’s Head, and it is over near the Deli with all the other Boar’s Head products – not in the regular hummus section. I attached a picture so you know what to look for. Try it with crackers, pretzels, or my favorite, just a spoon.
Pro tip: It tastes sinful, but the only ingredients are steamed chickpeas, organic sugar, water, sunflower oil, cocoa powder, vanilla extract, and sea salt. A pretty simple treat.
2. Peanut-Butter Crusted Chicken
You’re probably thinking…What? That sounds gross. But seriously, it is one of my staples, and I make it at least once a week. The friends I’ve cooked it for love it. I can’t remember what led me to make it the first time – I didn’t get it from a recipe or anything – but it was a great decision. I went through a phase where I added peanut butter to everything, so maybe that was it. (Let’s be honest, I’m still in that phase; just ask Coach Matt – he sees me eat at least a spoonful every morning.) When sautéed just right, the peanut butter makes a juicy crust over the chicken, creating the harmony of a sweet/savory flavor. As a bonus, I think it’s great for post-workout or after a long day because it is easy to make and is more filling since peanut butter provides extra protein and healthy fat. Intrigued yet?
Here’s my recipe:
- 4-6 chicken tenderloins
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 1 tsp garlic salt
- 1 tsp ginger
- About 1 tsp honey
- 1-2 tsp crushed red pepper flakes (optional, if spice isn’t your thing)
To make: Sauté chicken tenderloins in a pan with olive oil until no longer raw in the middle. Sprinkle on the garlic salt and ginger and drizzle honey lightly over the tenderloins. When chicken is nearly fully cooked, add another ½ tbsp olive oil to the pain, then add 1.5 tbsp peanut butter for every 2 chicken tenderloins. Mixing with the olive oil, stir the peanut butter around in the pan, and flip the tenderloins over a few times so they get covered. Cook for another 1-2 minutes or until chicken is slightly crispy.
Pro tip: Add ½ tsp of lime juice to the sautee pan, and serve with fresh cilantro on top for a Thai-esque peanut sauce taste. This works especially well if you choose to add the crushed red pepper.
3. Pumpkin Curry
Have an extra can or two of pumpkin taking up space in your pantry now that Thanksgiving is over? Try this dish the next time you don’t know what to make for dinner. Curry is an incredibly quick meal that is packed with good fats, tons of vegetables, and protein (if you make it with chicken, which I highly recommend). Adding pumpkin puree gives the curry a creamier texture and a distinct flavor without being overpowering, and it is a great way to put a leftover can of pumpkin to use.
Here’s my pumpkin curry recipe (easily feeds 3):
- 1 zucchini and 1 zucchini squash, sliced and cut into quarters
- ¾ cup mushrooms, sliced
- 2 large carrots, sliced
- 2 peppers of any color, sliced
- 3-5 raw chicken tenderloins
- ¾ can unsweetened coconut milk
- 1 ½ tablespoons curry powder
- 1 tsp garlic salt
- ½ tsp cinnamon
- ¾ can pumpkin
To make: Sauté chicken separately in a pan with olive oil. Cut up all the veggies and sauté together in a large pan or wok with olive oil. Once the chicken has cooked, throw it in the pan with the vegetables, or wait to put it on top instead. Once the vegetables begin to soften, add coconut milk to the pan. Coconut milk often separates before it is opened, so it is best to mix it with a spoon before pouring into the pan, so that your curry becomes the perfect creamy consistency. Add the garlic salt, curry powder, and cinnamon. Add the pumpkin puree and stir thoroughly, letting simmer for another 3-4 minutes.
Pro tip: Serve over quinoa or with cashews sprinkled on top for a satisfying crunch.
4. And lastly…Peppermint pancakes. A festive twist on the classic pancake breakfast.
Use your go-to pancake recipe – whether it be from a box or from scratch – but add crushed candy canes or peppermints to the batter, and save some to sprinkle on top as well. When my friends and I made these, we added about 2 crushed candy canes and 2 tbsp cocoa powder to the batter, and we combined crushed candy canes and festive sprinkles to put on top. Right before eating them, we topped them with whipped cream. Sounds like a sugar rush, right?
Pro tip: Clearly, these do not make for the healthiest breakfast. And, in all honesty, my friends and I thought the candy canes made for a funky texture because they are sticky. However, in the spirit of Christmas, we all enjoyed them, and kids will LOVE them. If you’re looking to make these for a more well-rounded breakfast and without putting your kids (or yourself) in a sugar coma, replace the cocoa with 1 scoop of chocolate protein powder, and go really light on the candy canes and toppings – the kids will still appreciate the holiday twist.
After reading this, some of you might think I’m a little strange – and I admit, I don’t have a very standard pallet, and I’m not a fan of cooking out of recipe books. I enjoy throwing what I have into a pan and seeing if it works out. Most of the time, thankfully, it does. I also love talking about food and recipes in all capacities, so please let me know if you make or try any of these things, I look forward hearing your thoughts!