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Carb Solutions: Gridiron Munchies

Image of Gridiron Munchies
Over half of the U.S. adult population, some 154 million, qualify as being overweight or obese. Another 29 million of us have Diabetes, many as a direct result of being overweight. Then there are the 23.9 million overweight children who are dutifully following the example of their XXL adult role models. Diabetes and these extra pounds cost this country billions annually in both medical and economic resources, not to mention the effect these weight-related maladies have on a person’s overall mental well-being and happiness. However, both diabetes and being overweight are very manageable, even preventable, with a few lifestyle tweaks. By maintaining a sensible diet in conjunction with some consistent exercise, no matter how minimal, we can all be in total control of our own weight. One easy way to start taking that control is to make decisions about the foods we eat based on the glycemic index [GI] and glycemic load [GL].

Simply put, our bodies convert all foods into sugar calories that provide energy to the body via the bloodstream. The Glycemic Index assigns a score of 1 to 100 to all foods based on how speedy the body converts that food into sugar. Foods that break down slowly enable the body to assimilate these calories of energy more efficiently without overwhelming the body with more sugar than it can process. While this is especially important for diabetics who process sugars much slower than others, everyone can benefit from eating foods with low glycemic scores since they also reduce appetite and encourage the metabolism to burn body fat. Conversely, a diet of foods high on the glycemic charts have been proven to actually increase appetite and impede effective fat oxidation.

  • The glycemic index of a food compares its effect on blood sugar level to that of pure glucose, which has a score of 100. White breads, which are made of processed white flour, are at the top of this scale, scoring a “perfect” 100 on the glycemic index. For perspective, a score of 55 or below denotes a low-glycemic-index food; 70 or above is considered very high. Serving size is not a consideration in arriving at a food’s Glycemic Index number.
  • The glycemic load, on the other hand, focuses on how much digestible carbohydrates (sugars) a food contains in a typical single serving, which is defined as approximately 3.5 ounces. For glycemic load, a score of 20 or more is high, while 10 or less is low.

January for this carb counter means it is nearing the end of a long Sports Snack Season! As an avid NFL fan, this month is THE BEST when viewed from a couch. The first two weeks complete the regular season, which sometimes decides who will play the last three weekends of the month to determine next month’s Super Bowl contestants. However, also by January, those usual game time snack foods that have been enjoyed since the season started last September are getting tiresome, so boring that even low-carbers have been seen eyeing those rows of salty, high-carb, delectably greasy kettle chips in that NO-FLY zone grocery aisle of value-added blood sugar spikes and heart-stopping ingredients! Ignore those Pavlovian instincts and power through to the refrigerated healthy foods department for a few packages of Melissa’s Cooked & Shelled Edamame! The rest is quick, easy and tasty-good healthy.

Mandatory criteria for low-carb nibbles: bite-sized, crispy-crunchy, a big enough flavor to overpower the need for salt, and, importantly, poppable by hand – even if that isn’t a real word per spell-checker! These bites are also baked rather than fried in oil, making them much lighter and a bit healthier, no matter the kind of oil. The breading makes for a crispy-crunchy coating that complements the chewy texture of the edamame. Melissa’s ground Hatch Chile Shakers, red or green, are great additives to the breading mix to kick the flavor up that notch needed to replace salt. Considering the obesity stats of this country, salt can no longer be considered a seasoning – it’s an addiction! Anyway, this recipe checks all the right boxes on my snack food requirements, including being very low in carbs!

Another useful and powerful flavor amongst snack food aficionados is wasabi paste. While these bites do have a definite hint of parmesan dipped in the sauce, the wasabi delivers that special taste treat that really is the definition of a flavor bomb! Handle the paste with care, as wasabi can dominate to the point of overpowering. Add it to the chosen base component of the dip in small daps, taste testing in-between until the right balance is achieved based on personal preference. This dip is the perfect flavor accent for these crunchy-soft nuggets. Still, wasabi is not for all taste buds; try a blue cheese or ranch dip as good options. BTW the basic battering, breading, and baking technique in this recipe could also be used with zucchini, asparagus, cauliflower, broccoli or mushrooms. So few games, so many nibbles!

Edamame-Parmesan Bites with Wasabi Dip
Yield: munchies for 1 game for 1 person
Image of Ingredients

1 pkg. Melissa’s Cooked & Shelled Edamame
½ cup almond flour
Pinch of salt, to taste
1 tablespoon Hatch Chile Powder, red or green (to taste)
1 cup Panko breadcrumbs
½ cup grated Parmesan cheese
½ cup sour cream, Greek yogurt, or mayo
¼ teaspoon wasabi paste, then adjust to taste

Image of combining edamame with flour and hatch pepper powder
Combine the edamame, flour, salt and choice of Hatch powder in a large mixing bowl until edamame is thoroughly coated. Set aside.
Image of egg dunk
Beat the eggs in a medium-sized bowl, set aside. In another bowl, combine the Panko and Parmesan, set aside. Use a slotted spoon first, dip about half the floured edamame in the eggs, then transfer into breadcrumb mixture; toss with a spoon or hands to coat each edamame evenly.
Image of edamame in baking tray
Place the prepared edamame on a parchment-covered baking tray, spaced without touching as much as possible. Clumps of more than three edamame beans stuck together should be separated. Bake at 400°F for about 12 minutes or until light golden brown. Watch closely the last few minutes of the bake, moving them around with a spatula so the undersides do not become overly browned or burnt.
Image of baked edamame appetizer in a serving bowl
While edamame bakes, make the dip. In a small bowl, whisk together the sour cream and wasabi until smooth. Adjust to taste. Bites are best served warm with the dip on the side, a cold beer and game of choice! (Warning: flavors can be addicting – double this recipe’s measure – a second batch is inevitable)

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