Kitchen Prep + Meal Planning: Step 4 ~ Unprocessed Snacks + Maple Glazed Almonds

Maple Spiced Almonds | @Susan Salzman | www.theurbanbaker.comIf my kids had their way our pantry would be loaded up with spicy chips, frozen pizza snacks, noodles with freeze dried whatever – packaged in a Styrofoam container, cream filled sandwich cookies, and fake meat packaged in plastic with a piece of candy on the side. They see their friends eating this stuff, so why can’t they? My general response, “because it’s crap”. End of conversation.

I spend a lot of time trying to come up with snacks that can not only be a wonderful addition to their lunch box, but can also satisfy hunger pangs or a sweet tooth craving. Having healthy options both in the cupboards and the fridge allows my kids to make smart choices. Ice cream is only in the house if I make it (and usually for a special occasion), and chips have been almost omitted completely. We still like these with our tuna or just on their own.

What I do keep on hand are nuts, all kinds of nuts. Raw cashews, almonds, peanuts, hazelnuts, walnuts, and pistachios can always be found in the freezer. Turning them into a sweet and spicy snack is something I love to experiment with. Not only are they delish on their own, but they great in baked goods, salads, and sprinkled on top of my morning oatmeal.

Organic Frozen Berries are used for all kinds of wonderful treats | @Susan Salzman | www.theurbanbaker.comOur local farmer’s markets has a few vendors that I love. When berries are in season, I buy lots and flash freeze them. Berries make wonderful handpies, smoothies, and jams.

Homemade Pantry Snack Food | @Susan Salzman | www.theurbanbaker.comI have been really, really hard to eliminate sugar from my diet. So hard. These vegan date nut truffles are helping me overcome my addiction. The kids love them in their lunch box and they seem to be the perfect afternoon pick me up. Chocolate sauce can always be found on the door of our fridge, cocoa hazelnut spread is a house hold favorite, and these fruit skewers are so cute that no one can resist them.

Homemade After School Snacks | @Susan Salzman | www.theurbanbaker.comWhen my kids get home from school they want a meal. After greeting me when they walk in the door with a kiss and a hug, the first words they utter are, “I’m STARVING”. I can’t always whip up a meal, especially since dinner is simply 2 hours away, but I can offer them dips, savory hand pies, and an occasional grilled sandwich. Salsa, hummus or white bean dip, guacamole, and homemade pizza sauce translates into a welcome savory snack.

With snacks like these in the fridge, I rarely get the “there’s nothing to eat”. In addition, having granola bars, frozen homemade tater tots, and lots and lots of sweet and savory nuts like these, fills their bellies up with something nutritious without ruining their dinner appetite.

5 Key Tips to taking the Stress out of Weekday Meals:

• Nuts can be very, very expensive. I have found that purchasing nuts in bulk, at the local Persian markets, gives me a lot of bang for my buck. Middle eastern markets are a great resource for not only nuts, but basic pantry staples like lentils, rice, alternative flours, and legumes. If you have one in your hood, I suggest you get over there, STAT!
• I often open a can of tomato paste simply to use one tablespoon in a recipe. Tomato paste can only last a few days in the fridge before becoming moldy. Freeze the rest by placing 1 tablespoon mounds onto a wax paper lined, small baking sheet. Freeze and then place the 1 tablespoon mounds of paste into a freezer safe container. Use within 3 months.
• Ice cube trays are one of my favorite kitchen tools. Ingredients like buttermilk, red wine, pesto, vegetable stock, pizza sauce, and left over canned tomato sauce are ideal candidates for freezing small amounts. When Eli wants a sandwich packed in his lunch, I will take out 1 cube of pesto the night before and it’s the perfect compliment to any sandwich. It’s much easier to defrost a cube of liquid than it is a whole quart of something and besides, it’s super cost effective.
• My kids love Schnitzel (pounded and breaded chicken breasts). I will sometimes pan fry a huge batch and freeze the rest for a 2nd or 3rd meal. It also allows for great variety. It can be made into a good chicken Parmesan, picata, or simply cut into strips and dipped into either marinara or BBQ sauce.
• I don’t know about you, but when the kids get home from school between 3:00 – 4:00 p.m., I have put in a full day (rising at 5:30a.m.) and I am in desperate need of a catnap. Often, I make 90{27efe1ccc16afc6105236eb327c94109df2303d90755d07506af9f0011bd0280} of my dinner in the morning, right after I usher them out the door on their way to school. You would be surprised how liberating this is.


Maple Glazed Almonds


14 ounces | 396 grams | 4 cups raw almonds
2 ounces | 4 tablespoons pure maple syrup
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
3/4 teaspoon Celtic sea salt
pinch (or two) Cayenne pepper (optional)


• preheat oven to 300*.
• line a rimmed half sheet pan with foil. lightly brush coconut oil on foil. set aside.
• in a large bowl combine maple syrup, cinnamon, vanilla, Celtic sea salt, and cayenne (if using). mix well. add almonds and mix to coat.
• spread on prepared baking sheet. bake for 30 – 40 minutes (my oven runs a little hot, so mine cook closer to 30 minutes). Half way through the cooking time, mix nuts to avoid burning the underside.
• remove from oven and let cool completely before removing from the pan.
• store in an airtight container for up to 2 weeks.

The Urban Baker /

More Snacks Around The Web:
Frozen Banana on a Stick – Weelicious
Carrot Bran Muffins – Ingredients, Inc.
Homemade Larabars – 100 Days of Real Food
Kiwi Orange Creamsicles – Desserts for Breakfast

Showing 18 comments
  • Amanda

    What fantastic ideas!!! So many options, and I know my kids would love them! You are the best. 🙂

  • Nancy@acommunaltable

    Seriously Susan – I wish I had half your energy! This post is loaded with great tips and these nuts sound addictive – perfect snack for anytime – think they’d be a wonderful part of a “snack mix” for traveling as well! Couldn’t agree more about the middle eastern markets!

    • Susan

      Oh, Nancy, I am confident that you do pretty much the same drill but don’t talk about it as much! I have to operate this way, if I didn’t one might find me in the middle of the day, curled up in bed, watching re-runs of “Sex and the City”!

  • Bill Peeler

    The recipe for those almonds sounds great – also, love all your ideas – but I think my favorite is the cocoa-hazelnut spread. I definitely need to give that a try —-

    • Susan

      Bill, the hazelnut spread is so good. I am making a new batch (I just picked up some peeled hazelnuts at my local Persian market) and this time around I am going to add a bit more hazelnut oil. The spread was great, but a bit thick. With the amount of fat in it (butter and cream), I am going to try and make it a tad more creamy. Please let me know how yours turns out!

  • Dalia

    Love the berries on skewers! I make a bowl of berries and fruit for my kids’ school lunches every day so the skewers would make a fun, refreshing new presentation…thanks!

  • Jennifer Mola

    I’m so making these almonds!!!

    • Susan

      So easy and So good!!

  • najwa kronfel

    Great ideas and healthy too! I’m always amazed at how organized you are. xx

  • Reply

    Smart tip on the Persian stores, especially when it comes to pistachios. I love all your snack ideas.

  • Reply

    I’ll love them and am going to make it as a present for me 🙂

  • Kim - Liv Life

    All excellent ideas. We freeze those berries too and they are always being added to smoothie, or sometimes just frozen out of hand right from the freezer. LOVE those glazed nuts, I’m afraid I wouldn’t be able to stop at just a few…

  • Reply

    great snacks!

  • Reply

    love these! Hope you’re well!!

  • Lynn

    These are so yummy. Not too sweet. Will be perfect on my cheese plate!

  • Lynn

    these yummy!!

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