What’s Cookin’ at Callie’s Cabin: Spice up your life with DIY dip and chips
May is the semi-warm month when baking cakes, breads and pies aren’t on my agenda as much as they are in the cool fall. This is the time to eat fresh seasonal vegetables and whole grains. Not only is it healthy for both the heart and waistline, it’s fun food for palates of all ages. So, welcome to homemade spicy guacamole and baked whole-wheat chips.
This week after swimming, I stopped at Safeway and hit the produce aisle. Ripe avocados welcomed me. Roma tomatoes looked big and fresh, and chili peppers were my new friends for the week. These superfood ingredients spawned a vivid flashback to when I was in a similar situation, sort of, but living in a different, breathtaking Golden State location. In the spring, I was waiting for a well-earned windfall, yet I was a struggling wannabe writer-graduate student living in La Honda (on the way to Half Moon Bay) amid the towering redwoods. I had a nice home, boyfriend, a beloved rescue cat, Gandalf, and my canine companion, Stone Fox, a black Lab. I enjoyed good health and plenty of cuddles, but was living on a shoestring budget. One afternoon, I put together avocados and store-bought salsa and paired it with flour tortilla strips fried in vegetable oil. Back then, the chips and dip tasted good – it was a nice snack as I was in the wait mode.
Back to the present. Last night, in between juggling multi-book deadlines and waiting for an anticipated royalty check, I paid a visit to the kitchen. Within minutes, I whipped up an all-fresh guacamole and baked chips, rather than fried or turning to the store-bought kind. While the companion animals in my life have changed since yesteryear (two upbeat Brittanys who smile and a talkative Siamese cat), I’m still living amid trees for a taste of calming nature – and eating good-for-you foods, but with a healthier kick.
Chunky Tomato Guacamole
2 avocadoes, ripe
1/2 green chili pepper, chopped
3 tablespoons fresh onion (green or red), chopped
2 tablespoons garlic, chopped
1 tablespoon lemon juice, fresh
2 Roma tomatoes, chopped
Ground pepper to taste
Parmesan cheese or shredded Mexican cheeses (for garnish)
Slice two avocadoes in half. Scoop into a medium-size bowl; mash with a fork. Add chili pepper, onion and garlic. Mix lightly. Add juice and tomatoes. Season to taste, top with cheese, and cover bowl with a top. Put in fridge to chill.
Baked Tortilla Chips
4 to 6 100-percent whole-wheat tortillas, soft taco size
Extra virgin olive oil, lemon flavored
Ground pepper and Mediterranean sea salt to taste
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Slice tortillas in half three times so you have six pieces for each. Place in a rectangle pan or on a cookie sheet. Brush with olive oil. Bake for about 10 minutes. Remove from oven and place in ceramic bowl. Sprinkle with spice. Serve warm with cold dip. Makes 3-4 servings.
During tough times, this inexpensive homemade chips-and-dip snack is comforting. Did you know the avocado is low in cholesterol and sodium and is also a good source of Dietary Fiber and Vitamin C? The garlic and onions are immune-boosting – great for high anxiety. Whole-wheat tortillas are low-cal and rich in dietary fiber – much better than the snack I made back in the day.
Bottom line: Nobody at South Shore likes to work like a gerbil on a wheel toy and wait for “the check is in the mail” while juggling everyday bills, right? But eating right and exercising paired with pet love helps to get through living on a shoestring budget and meeting deadlines. As my grandmother used to say, “This too shall pass.” Caution: Next week Callie’s Cabin may be serving up budget-friendly peanut butter, banana and honey sandwiches.
Motto: Money matters can trigger fight-or-flight syndrome. This is the time to eat nutrient-rich foods and get a move on to help you cope during financial ups and downs.
– Cal Orey, M.A. is an author and journalist. Her books include “The Healing Powers” series (Vinegar, Olive Oil, Chocolate, Honey, and Coffee) published by Kensington. “Animal Attraction: A Collection of Tales & Tails will be released this summer. Her website is http://www.calorey.com.