Spiced Candied Nuts

Sweet and Spicy Holiday nuts

Until I moved into this neighborhood, I wasn’t a huge fan of Halloween – love Christmas, love Thanksgiving, but I considered Halloween to be one of the lesser holidays – like President’s Day. Of course, I only assigned it its second-class designation after I outgrew trick-or-treating. However, Halloween is a big event around here. In my old neighborhood, we were lucky to see two or three kids all night. This place is hoppin’. We get large gaggles of costumed candy beggars throughout the night. It’s fun and festive and I can’t imagine shutting the drapes, turning off the lights and not partaking.

It takes eight bags of candy to ensure I’ll have enough to last the night. Eight bags purchased the week before the actual holiday. Eight bags of Reese’s, Jr. Mints, Twix, Paydays and Almond Joys stashed in my pantry…texting me for a booty call each night until the 31st saying, “just eat a few of us; we’re fun sized; we won’t side-track your diet.” Yeah, right.

I have no will-power and the recent tightness of my jeans is a physical reminder of that fact. If there’s sinful food in my house, it goes in my mouth. Eight bags of my favorite candy is a feeding orgy I don’t want to participate in this year. So, as counter measures, I’m waiting until the very last second to buy candy. I also made these slightly sweet, salty, spicy almonds for my personal snacking pleasure, ensuring I keep my fingers out of the candy bowl.


Spiced Candied Almonds

I used the nuts and spices I had on hand, but feel free to substitute your favorites.

Ingredients

  • 4 cups raw nuts (I used almonds)
  • ½ cup sugar
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 ½ teaspoons assorted spices (I used 1 teaspoon Chinese 5-spice, ⅛ teaspoon cardamom and ⅛ teaspoon urfa chile for heat)
  • 1 egg white, beaten
  • Flaky sea salt, such as Maldon (optional)

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 300° F. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment or a silicone mat. In a small bowl, whisk together the sugar, salt and spices. In a large bowl, beat the egg white until frothy. Add the nuts and spiced sugar to the egg whites and stir until nuts are evenly coated. Spread out the nuts on the baking sheet and bake for about 25 minutes, stirring occasionally, until browned.
  2. 2.Remove from the oven, sprinkle with sea salt (if using) and allow the nuts cool on the baking sheet.

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Beginning to See the Light Granola

I’ve been going through an interminable five month depression, primarily brought on by a work schedule impossible to maintain. Work has finally slowed and I’m beginning to come up for air – sixteen pounds heavier, toxic and worn out. In an effort to find my health again, I joined a gym and hired a personal trainer last week. After eating a full bag of Pepperidge Farm Maui cookies on Monday and three quarters of a bag of Newton’s blueberry Fruit Thins on Wednesday, I decided my diet needs an overhaul, too, but any willpower I may possess is melted by crispy, crunchy, chewy, buttery sweet carbs. Pastries make me happy like Prozac. In an effort to channel my love of a good cookie into something a bit more healthful, I whipped up a batch of granola this morning, capturing the flavors and textures without all the wheat, sugar and fat.

Granola

Beginning to See the Light Granola

3 cups old-fashioned rolled oats
3 cups assorted nuts and seeds (unsalted and unroasted, if possible)
½ – ¾ t. salt
½ t. cinnamon
½ t. cardamom
¼ t. ginger
¼ cup olive oil
¼ cup liquid sweetener (such as honey, maple syrup or agave syrup)
1 t. vanilla
1 cup dried fruit, chopped if needed (unsweetened and unsulfured, if possible)

Preheat oven to 350F. Combine oats, nuts and seeds in a large bowl (I used chopped almonds, pumpkin seeds and sunflower seeds. I also used about ¼ cup toasted flax seeds, but added them at the end since they were pre-toasted). Add salt and spices. Add oil, sweetener and vanilla. Stir until moistened and combined. Turn out on to a Silpat covered sheet pan.

Bake for about 30-35 minutes, stirring at the following times: 10 minutes, 20 minutes, 25 minutes, 30 minutes, and 35 minutes. Chop and measure fruit while granola bakes. If you use coconut, add coconut at the 20 minute mark. Add dried fruit (and any toasted nuts) to the hot granola. I used coconut, dried blueberries, dried cranberries, and apricots and also added the flax at this time. Cool granola and store.

Note: I like to pour almond milk over the still hot granola to make a tummy-warming snack to nibble while the rest of the granola cools.