This week, I want to celebrate the healthy homemade snack. We all know that snacking on naughty treats can have the ability to tip an otherwise balanced diet in the wrong direction. It's easily done – the odd biscuit here, a packet of crisps or a sugar-loaded drink there – all readily available to fill that mid-afternoon lull. As delicious as these treats might be, that doesn't mean they should be enjoyed every day. With just a little forethought and preparation, you can make your own snacks that allow you far more control over what you put into your body. This could simply be a handful of nuts or dried fruit sealed in a little jar to take to work; it could be a piece of fresh fruit or even a boiled egg.
When it comes to drinks, I've always thought it counterproductive to drink your calories – replacing a sugary fizzy drink with a delicious glass of fruit-flavoured water or tea makes far more sense. This fruit-skin tea recipe uses leftover pineapple peel, turmeric and ginger for a soothing, slightly spiced brew that will perk you up to no end.
Or, you could take 10 minutes to whip up a nutritious hummus – I've made many different versions of hummus over the years, and I find that once you've mastered the basics, it's up to you how you flavour it. This one has charred peppers for added sweetness and a little cayenne to give it a kick – I urge you to try it, it's delicious. Chickpeas form the base of hummus and this mighty legume is high in protein, fibre and more than 10 different micronutrients, including a hefty amount of the mineral copper, which keeps our hair and skin healthy. It's super nutritious.
For a top hummus, hunt for really good-quality chickpeas. They have a much better flavour, so you're guaranteed a good result.
Servings: About 3½ cups
2 red peppers
1 x 796 mL (28-ounce) can chickpeas
½ clove garlic
4 teaspoons tahini
2 tablespoons natural fat-free yogurt
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 pinch of cayenne pepper, plus extra to serve
Sea salt and black pepper for seasoning
Start by charring your peppers. If you have a gas stove, blister the peppers directly over the flame for 3 to 4 minutes on each side, or until blackened all over. Alternatively, place the peppers on a baking tray under a hot grill, turning often, until the skin is charred and blistered.
When your peppers are done, put them in a bowl and cover with plastic wrap, then leave for 5 minutes.
Remove plastic wrap and flake the blackened skin away from the peppers. Pull out the core and scoop out the seeds, then roughly chop the flesh.
Place in a blender and add drained chickpeas. Peel, roughly chop and add the garlic, squeeze in the lemon juice, then add the tahini, yogurt, cumin and cayenne pepper.
Blitz until smooth, taste and season to perfection.
Serve with an extra sprinkling of cayenne and plenty of crunchy veg or homemade tortilla chips for dunking.