Healthy Journey – Appetite

I’ve mentioned before on this blog that I’m going on a healthy journey, a path that I call “The Journey to Genkijima.” 

I drew a map that showed a path to this mythical, but still very important island, the island of my own good health.  “Genki” is a Japanese word meaning, among other things, “energetic good health.”  “Jima” means island, similar to “Shima.”  It’s not just about being healthy, but being vigorous, positive.  You can see the map I drew here.  I placed gold and silver star stickers for every pound I lost.  I’ve set up different landmarks on the map and the destination, in my mind, looks a lot like the Fall Forest in Horse Isle 3.

At this point I’ve gotten past the lighthouse at One-Derland, and am crossing Bravery Bay.  I had to put more spots on the map to make a longer path because I realized that I should really end up at a hundred and forty pounds, not a hundred and fifty.

That’s been going pretty well actually, even after quarantine, and I’m sixty pounds lighter than when I started.  I still have forty-five or so to go but I already feel so much better.  My blood pressure is way down and my resting heart rate is sixty!

In any case, now that I’ve seen some real success over the long term, I’m going to start sharing some of the strategies that have worked for me.

So today’s topic is appetite.

Big topic! But it can really help if you learn to manage it. Since everybody knows the standard tips about using caffeine or drinking lots of water or eating lots of fiber, I want to go beyond that. As far as I’ve been able to find, appetite has three major causes.

Actual need for fuel/nutrients
Gut biota, number and types
Emotional and mental habits

I’ll take these one by one and show how I have been able to manage my appetite by keeping these things in mind. I have had no uncontrolled binges for about six months now and honestly… I haven’t gone that long without an uncontrolled eating session since I was maybe seven or eight years old, when I wasn’t in charge of how much I ate. I freakin’ love food. Always have. Especially sugar and carbs. So how did I manage half a year without any binges, and without going off the rails after a holiday meal?

Need for fuel/nutrients

A person will have massive cravings if they aren’t eating enough or if the food they are eating doesn’t give them the nutrients they need. If you are missing major nutrients that your body needs, you’ll run into problems, so I try to get a good range of foods to make sure that I am getting the right kinds of fuel. Also I’m eating more and more whole foods because they are likely to have nice little added bonus vitamins and trace minerals that other foods may not.

Gut biota

Increasing amounts of research is saying that the gut bacteria that helps us digest our food has a massive impact on what we crave or even want to eat. The good news is, you can change the population in your gut by persistently eating more and more of the foods that are better for you. Within a week or so, you can see some pretty big changes. For example, now lentils seem really good to me. I’ve also noticed that eating some fiber and prebiotics (the food that survives to the intestines and feeds the bacteria) can make me crave other foods. For example, I started off by cutting way back on sugar and eating more apples and veggies I liked, such as carrots, broccoli, that sort of thing. Before long I was really loving the idea of eating lentils, spinach, red cabbage, whole wheat, and more. Healthier foods actually tasted better to me because of this population change. Also my sugar cravings backed off so they weren’t so insane.

Example of an effect of this change: I thought I’d stashed some gourmet jellybeans for my birthday. My birthday was a “holiday” so I could eat sugar if I wanted to. These were some wicked nice jellybeans, bought at Trader Joe’s, made in Ireland. Yet, because I wasn’t craving sugar nearly as much, I was able to realize that they were left at work, where I couldn’t get to them, and I was able to go “it’s okay, I won’t have them” and continue on with my day. Previously I would have obsessed about it.

Emotions/habits

Our emotions can have a huge impact on our success. Most of us know that. For example, if there is a lot of self sabotage lurking behind the scenes, we might put ourselves in situations that could hamper our success. Habits are a huge part of this too. For every old habit we have, we need to replace it with a new habit. Habits can definitely cause us to be hungry at certain times of the day, and emotions can cause false hunger as well. So we might really need to do some work on ourselves to get to the point where we are ready to gain that health we so richly deserve, and convince ourselves that the effort is really worth it.

Being in touch with what is going on inside us can help us think “I’m not hungry, I’m just bored” or “why don’t I go have a cuddle instead of that bag of chips? That’s what I really want.” Doing that can help you realize that our bodies actually do crave what’s good for them, but sometimes those cravings are harder to hear at first.

With that in mind, I found it really helpful to plan my meals around when I am least and most hungry, and plan the type of meal accordingly as well. For example, I am not all that hungry in the morning – unless I eat a carb-rich breakfast with little protein. At lunch I know hat I’m not usually that hungry either, when I’m busy with work. When I’m not, I get bored more easily and also want more food. I usually have a mid afternoon slump, around teatime, where I really need something to get me through. My spouse and I both like a big dinner, and sometimes I snack in the evenings.

With all that in mind, it works best for me if I do something like this:

Small breakfast, invariably including protein, and caffeine when I want it. No sugar in the caffeine, and carbs must be complex. Example: eggs, a protein bar, a whole wheat flatbread with lentils, or oatmeal with a scoop of PBfit and a couple ounces of blueberries, or pizza if that’s what we had the day before.

Lunch needs protein in it too, so I’ll do something like a protein bar (my go-to if I don’t know what else to have), eggs and veggies, avocado with toast or flatbread, green soup and flatbread, leftover chicken from the dinner before, one of my breakfast options, or something random like roasted chickpeas, or an apple, PBfit, and a beef stick. Once I get back to work I’ll start eating more salads, or maybe sooner provided I can keep them good long enough to finish the leafy greens.

Afternoon snack is handled nicely with a protein shake or an apple with PBfit.

Dinner can be any number of things. It might be pizza, hommade sushi, a cup of rice with chicken on top, soup, chili, whatever. I usually save enough calories from before that I can have a bit more for dinner. I try to add vegetables when I can, and when we have something like udon or other noodles I weigh them carefully and pick a better option like buckwheat soba or brown rice vermicelli. Or we might have rice and baked salmon or a burger and grilled corn. I allow more in the way of carbs at dinner, but still weigh carefully.

Snack might be a square of dark chocolate or maybe some wasabi peas, nothing big. I might have nuts or something like that but I weigh those carefully too. I have a secret weapon if I wake up hungry in the middle of the night or need something right before bed – nonfat cottage chese.

I think this illustrates how appetite tracking works. If I know when I am likely to be hungry, and when I am likely to be not hungry, I can plan ahead and balance things so I get what I need when I need it. I can also plan ahead so if I am unexpectedly hungry I can do something about it – like have a cup of hot tea, or a protein shake, or some cottage cheese for example. I try to make my supplemental snacks either calorie free, or high in protein. Though I eat a lot of low fat foods, I do have fat in my diet, usually in the form of avocado or salmon or nuts or something like that, not usually in condiments. Besides, I would rather spend my calories on protein or good carbs, given a choice.

Other tips that have helped me:

Aside from the above strategy, sometimes it helps for me to have some warm miso soup (about 40 calories) or some tea, whether herbal or caffeinated. The warmth in my stomach gives me that full, warm sensation I’m looking for as well as hydration. This is good for when I know I’ve had enough to eat but I still want a bit of a snack.

Find the healthiest version possible of your favorite foods and work them into your diet.

For example, I LOVE pizza, so I figured out how to make my own, which is not only tastier, but when I make it I can keep it to about 600 calories for two generously sized slices. That’s not only better than any other pizza you can buy at a pizzaria, it’s real pizza, not pita pizza or cauliflower pizza or anything like that. If you made those you could probably do way better than me on the calories. My pizza is a handmade crust where I weigh the flour so I know how much is going into each quarter pizza, with turkey pepperoni, reduced fat mozzarella, black olives, boneless skinless chicken breast, mushrooms, and tomato sauce. The reduced fat cheese and the turkey pepperoni help shave off fat but don’t really affect the taste all that much.

Another example is chocolate. Love the stuff. So I found squares that fit into my calorie counts and I eat them slowly. Dove Promises work pretty well for this and Ghiradelli squares all have the calories on the individually wrapped square.

PBFit has been nice for my peanut butter fix, I make an apple dip by mixing it with cinnamon and water. I also have a favorite brand of protein shake that is lower in calorie and includes some added vitamins.

Weighing food has helped train my eye so that I can more accurately estimate what a proper portion is. It’s a learning tool as much as it is a tool to help me know exactly what’s going into me.

Along with understanding appetite and what causes cravings, thinking of my food as a “budget” helps me out a lot. When I want a huge bowl of noodles I think “is this actually going to satisfy me or is this going to make me want more, when I’ve already reached my limit? What could I do to this so I still get my noodles but I’m better satisfied?” So I’ll cut my noodle portion in half and add veggies. Or I’ll think “this looks delicious but if I start eating it, is the normal portion really going to be worth it, when I’ll just want more and this other thing will be better for me?”

Understanding not only when we are hungry, but why, really helps when we’re trying to retrain ourselves. It can be the difference between steady success and yo-yo dieting. It can also make our journey a whole lot more comfortable!

Unleash the power of snacking

If you’re anything like me and a bunch of other people, you want to start 2020 on the right foot.  For many of us, healthy eating habits are something we’re working on.  One of my biggest pitfalls was snacking… what I call “getting a case of the nibbles.”  I wasn’t really hungry but my mouth was bored.  It would often happen when I was working online, or at my actual job working, or driving.

I’ve started seriously logging my calories lately as well as working out a lot more (okay, working out at all – I didn’t start till December 10)  so that’s been pretty eye opening.  The logging is working because I’m finally being honest with myself about what I’m putting in, what macronutrients it’s made of, and what vitamins, etc, I’m getting.

Since I’ve started thinking of my daily 1700 calories as a kind of budget, I’ve naturally started thinking of snacking in a different way  Basically, if I were to eat something not so great for me, like a bowl of my wife’s fantastic stroganoff or a slice of pizza or something, I want to really enjoy it, right?  Because I can’t in good conscience go back for seconds.  I don’t want the calories to just go into my mouth and not even notice them.  It would be like saving up to go to a concert then not listening to the music!

Since I’m prone to mindless snacking though, I use that as a time to get good food into me.  For example, I’m honestly not super duper fond of mini bell peppers.  However, they don’t really taste bad and they have amazing amounts of nutrients in them.  So when I’m bored I bust out my daily six mini peppers.  I can mindlessly eat those – when I’m done I’ll feel better, have a shot of vitamins, and my mouth will have had something to do.  I also won’t be on the carb spike/crash cycle that will just have me snacking again.

So yeah!  Mindless snacking, when used correctly, can be a weight loss strategy!  Who knew?

Some good items to mindlessly snack:

Mini bell peppers

Regular red, yellow, and orange bell peppers (more nutritious and green) cut up with seasonings on them

Jicama matchsticks with appropriate seasonings

An apple, cut up with cinnamon on it

Carrot sticks

Cucumbers

Celery

Snow Peas or Sugar Snap Peas

Broccoli florets

…and more!  Just watch out for the high cal sauces and dips.

 

shallow focus photography of yellow and red bell peppers in basket
Photo by Nick Collins on Pexels.com

Roh Tries: Kumquats!

Kumquats are a cute little orange citrus fruit, about the size of a really big olive, that is native to South Asia and the Asia-Pacific region.  They have been cultivated in China Japan, the Philippines, Taiwan, and Southeast Asia for quite some time.  In Cantonese “gām-gwāt 金橘” literally means “golden orange” or golden tangerine.

So, you may be wondering, what in the heck do they taste like?

I tried some a couple weeks ago and liked them so much I bought more.  This is what it is like to eat them.

Imagine a very small orange with a rind that isn’t bitter, is thin, and tastes sweet.  Imagine that the fruit inside tastes like a cross between a lime and a lemon.

Originally, I didn’t know any of this.  Then one morning I went into my local Albertsons (the upscale one) and saw a wonderful golden pile of tiny fruits in the produce section.  The pricetag was rather high, so I only bought a few.  But I HAD TO KNOW the secret of the mighty kumquat.  It couldn’t just be a fun-to-pronounce name.

When she was putting groceries away, the spouse looked at my little bag of orange goodness and said “what?  kumquats?”  However, she knows how I like trying new things and thew\se were right up my alley.  I read up on them online and prepared to make my experiment.

When you bite into this fruit you have an initial impression of sour juiciness, but as you chew, the sweetness of the rind mingles with that sourness and makes a very nice flavor that is more complex than that of most oranges.

They also have a light, delicate scent, and are a little better if you roll them between your palms before eating them, to release the fragrant oils.

I would always eat a kumquat whole, or at most, sliced in half.  Cutting them up small would be an issue.  Though, I might not mind making marmalade with kumquat rind instead of orange zest – that might be quite good!

The best kumquats are bright orange with a glossy, blemish free skin.

If you like, here is more information on this amazing fruit!

https://www.thespruceeats.com/what-are-kumquats-2774810

kumquats.PNG

 

I tried the Rotten Zombie Skittles…

…and they weren’t that bad!

If you haven’t seen them, these are Skittles with various evocatively named flavors, mostly delicious, but a few of them are purported to be flavored like “rotten zombie.”

Most people who have written about them think they are absolutely horrible, and the company says that different palates may experience them differently.

I liked them.

Now, this doesn’t mean that I have a taste for well aged human flesh.  To my palate anyway, when tasted with an open mind, I found the flavor of these Skittles to be rather like spiced hamburger.  It was like hamburger with paprika, a hint of garlic and perhaps cinnamon, the kind of thing you might have with spaghetti.   The main oddity was that it was still sweet, because it was still a Skittle.  So maybe even mincemeat?

Anyway, if I had a wild imagination and was thinking of zombies, and it were closer to Halloween, they might be grosser tasting.

You may be wondering why in the world I would want to try Skittles that promised to have a gross flavor hidden among them.

Well, curiosity killed the cat – but satisfaction brought her back.

So when my coworker handed me this fun size bag of Skittles though, emblazoned with the legend “produced with genetic engineering,” I realized that the flavor couldn’t be too gross.  After all, this is a product meant to be safely eaten without having anyone sue the company for attempted poisoning.

Just like the Every Flavor Beans that Jelly Belly makes, the flavors are nasty but don’t really taste entirely like the originals.  Quick example, and it’s probably not the one you’re thinking of:  I ate plenty of grass as a kid.  Lawn grass, beach grass, you name it.  I chose relatively clean sources and long blades, I chewed grass and made whistles from it too.  The grass jelly bean doesn’t taste like anything like the real green plant matter, and I should know.  Therefore, I’m pretty sure that imagination has a pretty large part to play here.

So I ate the Skittles and lived.  My taste buds could be worn out I suppose, and there is that caveat from the company about differing palates, but it really wasn’t that bad!

The second and third days of Obon

Note: One of the more difficult things to do is to pin down exactly when this festival actually is.  Some parts of the country list it as “August 15.”  Others list it as “July 15.”  The difference comes from whether or not you follow the old Lunar calendar.

Now, I started these entries with the idea that one of the festival dates was August 15 in the Tokyo area, which logically should mean the last day of Obon would be on the 17th.  But Japan Talk lists it as ending on August 15!

So here I am, a little late to the party, but there are other years and perhaps one day I’ll get to celebrate the festival in Japan itself.

On the second day of Obon, the party really gets started.  There is dancing and drumming and good food and games.  It’s a colorful, summery event.

Per this article from the Huffington Post:

“The second day of Obon is spent celebrating the spirits’ homecoming. Towns build stages in the center, where dancers perform the Bon Odori, or traditional Obon dance. Although this dance varies regionally, it’s usually accompanied by traditional Japanese drums. Along the stage, booths of Japanese treats, games, and shops provide a festival-like atmosphere. Since Obon occurs in summer, many attendees wear traditional yukatas (light-weight kimonos).”

Sounds like fun to me!

For another perspective, and lots of great pictures, here’s an article from Japan Talk:

https://www.japan-talk.com/jt/new/obon

Also, here’s a wonderful blog called Just One Cookbook, and the dedicated page for summer festival foods!  The instructions are great, so maybe you’ll want to try one soon.

https://www.justonecookbook.com/japanese-summer-festival-foods/

The last day of Obon

This is the day when the famous floating of the lanterns happens.  In many parts of Japan this now happens in ponds with no outlet, rather than on the rivers.  This is done for environmental reasons, but in the places where lanterns are floated down the rivers, it’s a truly beautiful sight.  See the two articles above for more details.

As the lanterns float away, spirits of beloved family members are bid a fond farewell, until the next year.

Drive-through-fast egg sandwich

I’m always rushing out the door in the morning and many times I want a hot breakfast but don’t want to spend a half hour cooking and eating it.  Wouldn’t it be nice if there were a small meal I could have that’s relatively balanced and I could make in less than five minutes?

Well, it is nice, because it’s totally possible, and here’s how to do it!

You will need:

1 egg

1 English muffin

1 slice of cheese, or 1/2 ounce of shredded cheese

Salt/pepper to taste

Optional:  Slice of lunch meat, hot sauce, other condiments you like

A tall container to cook the egg in that’s roughly the same diameter as the muffin.  I use a cheap plastic storage container.

A microwave and a toaster.

Directions:

Split and toast the English muffin.  While it’s toasting, crack the egg in the bottom of your cooking container, add salt, pepper and/or dried herbs, and mix with fork or whisk.

Microwave egg on High for one minute.

When muffin is toasted, put cheese on bottom half.  Add your egg, which should have cooked into a fluffy disk that fits perfectly on your muffin.

Add any other toppings you want and close sandwich.  You can wrap it in foil to take with you, or eat it right there.  I like to use a whole wheat English muffin so it stays with me a little longer.

There you have it- simple, easy, can be made in less than five minutes.  That’s less time than it would take to buy something at a drive-thru.  As a tip, soak your egg-cooking container for a while, as it’s much easier to clean the egg out of it if you do.  You could also spray it with cooking spray before use.

 

 

Seriously Easy Berry Jam

Who isn’t tired of paying top dollar for all-fruit jam?  It’s great to make your own, but sometimes a quick and simple recipe that you can whip up in ten minutes is nicer than standing over a hot pot of boiling fruit.  Luckily this recipe exists.

You can make this jam out of any fruit you like using nothing but a spoon, some boiling water, a refrigerator, and a blender.

You will need:

2 pints berries (blackberries, raspberries, blueberries, strawberries, or whatever you like.  You can use fresh or previously frozen.)

1/2 cup boiling water

1 4-serving packet of Jello-style gelatin dessert, any compatible flavor (I like cherry with blackberry, personally)

A blender

A spoon or whisk

A container to keep the jam in

Directions:

Place your fruit into the blender and blend until relatively smooth.

Add the contents of the gelatin packet into 1/2 cup boiling water and mix well.

Mix gelatin and fruit, pour into a container.  Refrigerate for several hours.  The mixture will thicken into a nice, sturdy jam that’s perfect for toast or English Muffins.

That’s it!  This jam is so easy to make and it tastes really good.  You can get fancy and use organic gelatin, or just use packets of Sure-Jell if you want to go ultra-simple.  You can use sugar free gelatin too.  It’s also fun to try different combinations of fruit flavors with your base fruit.  If you like to reuse containers, two pints of berries makes the perfect amount of jam to fit in an old Talenti Gelato jar.  Those make great jam jars.  This jam will keep in the fridge for at least a month.

 

 

Meditations on an ice cream scoop…and moose poop.

If I’m going to have dessert, I’m going to go all the way.  I don’t have to have a lot if it’s really high quality stuff.  So I find myself scooping out two bowls of Moose Tracks ice cream, into cute little blue and white porcelain Happy Neko bowls from Japan.  The scoop is sturdy, fits well into my hand, carves out the creamy goodness with ease, and never bends.

I think it cost five dollars and I’ve had it for years.

I consider how I have been before.  Whyever would I need an ice cream scoop?  I had a spoon, after all, and so what if it bent?  I could always bend it back.  Never mind the frustration and sticky mess caused by it almost every time.  What a way to begin a dessert.

So I’ve got my scoop.  As I wash it and put it in the drainer, I think about how the difference between an easy time and a hard time can be traced to one right tool or perhaps a right technique.  It’s not about skill, though that helps, or even money.  My scoop was cheap.  But it makes a big difference.

The spouse won’t call Moose Tracks Ice Cream by its right name, because it reminds her of moose poop.  It’s a nasty thing to be reminded of when you’re all warm and happy

from a good meal.

We decided to call it Denali ice cream instead.  That way it can be glacial boulders on clean snow.  No large, aquatic, messy moose needed.  Did you know that moose can get most of their food from water weeds during the summer time, and even dive for them like large ungainly antlered ducks?  Little moose are often frightened to try and often require persuasion.  Go look it up if you want a good laugh.

And here’s to well made ice cream, in moderate quantities, easily served into pretty bowls with a proper scoop.

 

Recipe for Simple Grilled Mackerel

Blue mackerel, cleaned and headless (can use clouded mackerel, Norwegian, etc)

Mushrooms

Kosher salt, black pepper

Heavy duty aluminum foil

Chop mushrooms finely, mix with salt and pepper.  Pack mixture into fish cavity.  Wrap each fish into a foil packet, sealing well at the edges.

Preheat grill to cooking temp.

Set packets on heat, medium works well, and close lid.  Open after five to ten minutes and flip.  Close lid again, cook for another five to ten minutes.  Test temperature according to your preferences, let rest for another ten minutes before unwrapping.

Serve on bed of rice with soy sauce.  Be careful not to swallow any bones.

 

Sunday Morning

It’s quiet, just the way I like it.  I wake up a bit late, maybe a half hour after I wanted, but I don’t worry too much because it’s Sunday after all.  I dodge cats all the way though morning routine – fluid exchange, shower, brushing hair, dressing.  Shinji, my 15 year old Siamese mix, plays his usual game of getting in my way, cris-crossing my path and then running away when I try to pet him.  Silly boy.  I’m glad he’s still capering like a much younger cat.  He was a rescue, his Other Mom died about a year ago.  It took him months to get over his depression.  Amazing how many people still think cats don’t love!

My slightly younger cat, a fine 12 year old queen calico, greets me out in the living room.  Everything is still a little chaotic this soon after my move and the house is still rather empty in certain places and cluttered in others, with painting supplies and tools on the bread making counter and paint cans scattered hither and yon.  Everything will come together, I know.

Eventually I say goodbye to the spouse and make it out of the house.  The morning is still fresh and new.  I back out of my steep driveway, careful to watch and avoid the parents having a morning walk, little kids attached by the oldest leash of all – their hands.  I smile at the pink clad youngsters.  Nice to see people being outside, just to be outside.  I pull out and head to my first grocery stop, gritting my teeth as I pass over the one mile of potholed road that bears little resemblance to a proper city street.  It smooths out just as I get to the store.

The aisles are quiet and the employees are fresh.  I catch a yawn or two.  I love being here at this time, when everything is new and organized and I don’t have to fight for my position in the aisles.  I start playing my favorite bargain game.  Recalling what other stores charge for things, I buy, or don’t buy, crossing things off my list as I go.  This can of chili?  There’s a screaming deal, I’ll buy extra to put by.  That condiment?  Stuff must be made of hand picked saffron for the price they charge.  I’ll get it at store number two.  And so on.  I get out of there with a total that’s way under budget.  There’s only one cashier, at the express line no less, and my cart is way over 15 items.  I chat with her as I help her get things moved through quickly.

On to the second store, where I pick up the things I passed over at the first.  I see a firefighter buying massive quantities of beans, I chat with him as I pick out my diced tomatoes.  Fresh salsa is in the offing, traditional Shaw family Scottish salsa.  Scottish salsa, you say?  Aye, and we used ta make it with onions and turrrnips, but t’was improved greatly after the New World was discovered.  Last minute, I remember the cilantro.  Can’t have good salsa without fresh cilantro.

I come out of the store smiling, still under budget.  It’s a lovely sunny morning.  An acoustic version of “Who’ll Stop The Rean?” comes on the car radio.  I answer the question – nobody stops it, you have to move away from it.  I pull into the drive and commence stocking the pantry, gently shooing cats out of the way, breakfast burritos on the brain.

 

Shaw Family Salsa Recipe

6-8 pickled jalapenos

1 large can diced tomatoes

1/2 small red onion

1 handful fresh cilantro

6 cloves garlic, peeled

Salt to taste

Plenty of Cumin

 

Blend thoroughly, can store in fridge for 1-2 weeks.

Snack Hack: Honey Mustard Pretzels

As I was in the grocery store looking for a decent snack, I incubated a new idea.  I absolutely love mustard pretzels, but they are usually $2-3 more than I want to spend, and several extra ingredients more than I want to eat.  An idea started incubating and now it’s hatched!

Why not make my own mustard pretzels, I thought?  So I did, and now you can too.  I like making my own snack foods when I have time because I like controlling the ingredients.

DSCN1596


I used:

1 bag of sourdough pretzel pieces, 15 ounces

Plain yellow mustard, 1/2 cup

Honey, 1/4 cup

Small bowl, whisk, large mixing bowl, sheet pan.


I started by measuring the mustard, then made a kind of cup in the mustard by coatingDSCN1598 the sides with it.  That way I could pour the honey into, straight from the jar.  I did this with half my mustard so it would fill a half cup measure in total.  It was really easy to clean the measuring cup afterwards!

Similarly, I poured a little water into my mixing bowl first, so the honey would have less chance of sticking there, too.  Don’t use much here, a quarter cup at the absolute most.  I whisked it all together then added the other 1/4 cup of mustard.  I gave it a final whisk.

I poured the pretzel pieces into the large mixing bowl, then poured the coating on top, mixing it all thoroughly with clean hands.

DSCN1600

I placed the coated pieces on the baking sheet in a single layer, then baked in the oven for 60 minutes at 250 degrees.

Stir them every fifteen minutes or so.

If your pretzels are still damp, they may need a bit of drying on the counter or in a warm oven.  I live in a dry climate so don’t have that issue.

 

I found these to have a milder flavor than my favorite brand, but I liked the price and DSCN1601ingredients a lot better!

You can, of course, alter this recipe to your own tastes.  You could add cayanne or garlic, both would be amazing, change the mustard type to something else, or dream up something interesting like using ranch dressing mix as part of the recipe!

Happy crunching.

 

via Daily Prompt: Incubate