Gochujang Snack Mix (Recipe Redux)

This month’s theme on the Recipe Redux is a fun one that couldn’t have been better timed with all of my spring and summer travel plans — healthy recipes for snacks that will travel! You know I love a good travel snack so this was right up my alley. I put a spicy twist on the classic plane snack mix and upgraded the ingredients to be a little bit more balanced and interesting with this Gochujang Snack Mix.

Gochujang Snack Mix

Before we get to the recipe, let’s talk more about travel snacks and why it makes sense to actually pack them in the first place. Rarely do I go on a trip sans snacks!

I’m not opposed to airport food and the Denver airport actually has some really solid options (it’s the only reason I started getting there early 😂). But I do like having choices and not spending my entire food budget before the trip even starts, so I always pack a few things of my own, even if just to complement whatever I grab once I get there.

You never know when a flight will be delayed or cancelled so having something to tide you over to your next meal could be more clutch than you think. And besides being overpriced, a lot of the snacks available once you get on the airplane, are lacking in in the nutrition department (I’m looking at you, weird plane snack boxes).

Tips for Packing Healthy Travel Snacks

Protein & Fiber

Try to pack things that have some protein and/or fiber because these are generally a little bit harder to come by in the airport. Sure, you can probably find a banana or a red delicious apple but chances are it’ll be overpriced and flavorless.

Stay Hydrated

Stop paying an arm a leg for bottled water (or your other bottled drink of choice) and instead pack an empty re-usable water bottle that you can fill once you get through security. I have this one and LOVE it because I can toss it in my backpack without worrying about a leak, plus it keeps liquid really cold. Almost every airport has one of those handy filling stations now, and you’ll be happy to have it during your wait time and flight.

Keep it Varied

Bring a variety of options to suit whatever mood you’re in. Sweet, salty, savory, crunchy. You’ll be prepared for anything!

Favorite Healthy Store-bought Travel Snacks

Here are a few of my go-to choices for store-bought options, although this list changes as I find new products:

  • bars for something convenient, portable and filling

  • nut butter packets — especially the RX Bar ones that have added egg whites for more protein along with really fun flavors. These are great for adding to coffee shop oatmeal for early morning flights or eating with fruit for a snack later.

  • trail mix — usually a mix of dried fruit, nuts & dark chocolate

  • salmon jerky for a salty/savory option. I love this EPIC brand because they have interesting flavors like chicken sriracha and turkey cranberry sage.

  • a really good apple, because it’s sturdy, holds up well and isn’t a mess to eat (eating something like an orange on a plane is my WORST nightmare)

  • ginger chews. Does anyone else get queasy on take-off? I’m not sure if these do anything besides distract me, but I’ll take it.

  • tea bags. Just ask for hot water on the plane and you’re good-to-go. I take the lower caffeine options for evening flights and especially love TAZO green ginger.

Gochujang Snack Mix Recipe

Southwest is my airline of choice and they always pass out a free snack mix and pretzels once up in the air. So generous of them being that some airlines don’t even offer free water anymore. I wanted to put my own twist on the popular cheese version (you know the one!) and I thought I would spice things up a bit.

How to Make a Healthy Homemade Spicy Snack Mix

Lately I’ve been loving Korean flavors so for this recipe I leaned on gochujang, sesame oil, soy sauce and garlic. Gochujang is one of my favorite condiments of the moment!

Gochujang Snack Mix

If you aren’t familiar, it’s a fermented chile paste that has a mix of sweet, savory and spicy flavors and you should be able to find it at most grocery stores. If you want to learn more about Korean cooking and flavors, this podcast episode was awesome — they talked a lot about the staple ingredients and flavor profiles in Korean cooking.

I mixed the paste into some melted ghee along with a few other key ingredients to create a super flavorful liquid component and then poured it all over the mix before baking to get a nice caramelization. You can certainly use butter, but the ghee gives this extra depth of flavor so if you have it, use it!

Gochujang Snack Mix

The end result has a nice kick, but I promise it’s not too hot for those of you who are spice averse. Between the crunchiness from the nuts, the salt crystals from the pretzels and the crispiness from the cereal, this really has everything covered texture-wise too.

Whip up a batch to take with you on that next flight to make your snack game more interesting while keeping hunger at bay. Your seat neighbors will probbbbbably be asking you to share some.

Gochujang Snack Mix

Gochujang Snack Mix

Author: Leanne Ray, MS, RDN
Yield: 8 cups | Prep time: 5 min | Cook time: 45 min | Total time: 1 hour (including time to cool)

Ingredients

  • 2 cups cheddar square crackers

  • 2 cups wheat square cereal

  • 2 cups salted pretzel twists

  • 1 cup whole raw unsalted almonds

  • 1 cup whole raw unsalted cashews

  • 1/3 cup melted ghee or butter (melt first, then measure)

  • 1 Tbsp (heaping) fermented chile paste (aka gochujang)

  • 2 tsp soy sauce

  • 1 tsp toasted sesame oil

  • 1 tsp granulated garlic

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 250 degrees.

  2. Combine all dry ingredients (crackers through cashews) in a large dish or bowl.

  3. Melt the ghee in a liquid measuring cup (about one minute on high in the microwave), then add chile paste, garlic powder, soy sauce and sesame oil and stir with a fork until well combined.

  4. Pour the liquid over the snack mix and toss well to completely coat (it takes a minute or two). Transfer to a large foil-lined baking sheet and spread into a single layer.

  5. Bake for 45 minutes, stirring occasionally to prevent burning. Cool completely before transferring to an airtight dish or freezer bag.

Notes:

this mix will likely keep for up to a week. You can also freeze it for up to four months.

if you like heat, increase the amount of gochujang to 1.5-2 Tbsp.


recipe-redux-linky-logo

Want more nutrition tips & recipes?

Subscribe to my emails. I'll give you a heads-up on what's new on the blog, plus share exclusive tips & offers.

I promise I won't send you spam. Unsubscribe at any time. Powered by ConvertKit

Homemade Yogurt Ranch Dressing

Are you a creamy ranch dressing lover? Whether you use it as a dip for vegetables or a dressing for your favorite salads, I think you will be surprised at how easy it is to make your own. This homemade yogurt ranch dressing has a bite from the black pepper and raw garlic. Fresh herbs and lemon juice brighten it up perfectly. I hope you love it!

Homemade Yogurt Ranch Dressing

So I’m not going to start by talking about how ranch is “bad” and “here’s how to make it healthier”. You know that’s not how I roll around here. There’s nothing wrong with the bottled stuff if that’s what you have time for and you really love the taste but if you’ve never tried homemade, hear me out!

Ranch dressing is one of those magical foods that just makes things taste GOOD. It gets a bad rap because the traditional store-bought versions have taboo things like sodium and artificial flavors. I’m not entirely opposed to that stuff because I know it helps keep food products affordable and accessible and also cut down on waste (yeah, I’m not your average dietitian). That being said, I also like recreating store-bought favorites in my kitchen for a fresher, tastier and usually less expensive end product.

Homemade Yogurt Ranch Dressing

The Case for Going Homemade

When I worked in a restaurant, I remember making the ranch from scratch at the beginning of my shift during prep work in a HUGE batch. Kind of gross dealing with that much mayonnaise but the taste was seriously so much better than the bottled stuff in the store which can be (for lack of a better word) “goopy”.

My favorite part about the homemade version was that it was pourable and had a strong garlic and herb flavor. For awhile, I’ve wanted to make a variation that has the added health benefits of yogurt, but still has a great flavor profile from garlic, onion, fresh herbs and citrus (no seasoning packet required).

One day I realized that I happened to have all of the ingredients I needed to give this a go so I got to work on making the perfect homemade yogurt ranch dressing. I’m happy to report that my first test ended up turning out just right so here we are!

What You Need to Make Homemade Ranch

The key ingredients:

  • Full-fat Greek yogurt to add creaminess and mouthfeel (I used my favorite siggis 4%)

  • Fresh garlic grated on a microplane (no chunks), plus herbs and citrus to brighten it up

  • Dried onion flakes to provide that must-have {but slightly toned down} onion-y flavor

  • Buttermilk to thin it out without losing the creaminess (Yes you need it. Here are some ideas for using up the rest)

I also added just enough mayo to add a punch of richness while still keeping this on the lighter side, but you could skip it or use your favorite plant-based alternative instead (I know mayo is a touchy subject for some people). It’s as simple as whisking everything up in a bowl until smooth and creamy - you might never go back to the store-bought version again!

Homemade Yogurt Ranch Dressing

Use this yogurt ranch as a dip for fresh vegetables or drizzle it over your favorite salad. If you dip your pizza in it I won’t judge.


Homemade Yogurt Ranch Dressing

Author: Leanne Ray, MS, RDN
Yield: 1.25 cups (5-6 servings) | Prep time: 5 min | Total time: 10 min

Ingredients

  • 2/3 cup plain 4% siggis yogurt (or other full fat variety)

  • 2 Tbsp mayonnaise

  • 1/2 cup low fat cultured buttermilk

  • 3 cloves garlic, grated on a microplane

  • 1 Tbsp chopped fresh dill

  • 1 Tbsp chopped fresh chives

  • 1/2 lemon, juiced

  • 2 tsp dried minced onion

  • 1/2 tsp sea salt

  • 1/4 tsp black pepper

Instructions

  1. Add all ingredients to a medium bowl and whisk until thoroughly combined and smooth. Store in a jar with a tight lid, refrigerated, for up to 5 days.

Nutrition Info

Per 1/4 cup serving: 75 calories, 3 grams carbohydrate, 5 grams fat, 4 grams protein, 66 mg sodium, 2 grams sugar


BONUS: 5 Simple Salad Dressings

A free download with five of my favorite homemade dressing recipes.

I promise I won't send you spam. Unsubscribe at any time. Powered by ConvertKit

7 Creative Ways to Use Your Instant Pot

The Instant Pot is all the rage for busy home cooks! Today I’m sharing 7 creative ways to use your instant pot beyond the usual soups, meats, beans and grains. Also just a heads-up that there are affiliate links in this post meaning, at no cost to you, I will earn a small commission if you click through and make a purchase. Thanks for reading!

7 Creative Ways to Use Your Instant Pot

What’s the Deal with the Instant Pot?

I think it’s pretty well established that the Instant Pot has turned into somewhat of a cultural phenomenon in the last few years. Even if you don’t own one, most of us can attest to their insane (seemingly overnight?) popularity. The sheer volume of recipes on Pinterest is crazy. Every time I search for something, I swear an IP variation pops up too!

I love the instant pot for simple and fast weeknight cooking with minimal cleanup (i.e. one pot meals). For example, you can throw in frozen chicken breast, a couple of cans of tomatoes, beans and broth plus seasonings and vegetables of choice and make a solid soup in less than 30 minutes. The saute feature allows you to get your onions and garlic started before dumping everything else in without having to dirty another pan, which is pretty cool too.

I’ve mentioned this before, but the IP also makes cooking for a crowd a breeze because you can perfectly cook large cuts of protein in a fraction of the time that you can in the oven or crock pot. I’m talking shredded, fall apart style Korean Beef or Carnitas as the perfect centerpiece for a BYO taco bar.

If you follow a plant-based diet, there are plenty of options for you too! A friend of mine recently recommended this Thai & Butternut Curry and it was another winner. Additionally you can use it for large batch dried beans which is great because honestly, I never think about soaking and prepping them in advance so I much prefer making them in an hour, pressure cooker style.

When I was writing this post, I remembered that I actually made an Instant Pot video tutorial last year for a cooking challenge that I facilitated. Check it out below if you’re interested in a more visual explanation of how the IP works or feel intimidated by all of the settings and buttons - I cooked a small batch of brown rice in this one.

Creative Ways to Use Your Instant Pot

All of the examples I mentioned above are pretty mainstream uses for the Instant Pot but did you know there’s a ton of creative, more non-traditional ways to use it too? I wanted to round up seven creative recipes (that I’ve found) to use the Instant Pot to share just how versatile it is. Many of these I’ve tried, some not. Hopefully this list gives you some new ideas and inspiration!

Hard-Boiled Eggs (Omnivore’s Cookbook)

These have become somewhat of a weekly staple in my house. I prefer my eggs on the jammy side, so I follow the 4-minute version and they turn out perfect every time and are SO easy to peel. Let me tell you, hard-boiled eggs were always so frustrating for me until I discovered this method. I’m not sure it was the altitude or what, but every time I made them on the stove they would be either impossible to peel, overcooked or a combination of the two. This method is quick and hands-off!

Cinnamon Roll French Toast Casserole (Fit Foodie Finds)

This French toast casserole recipe involves placing an oven-safe bowl on the trivet inside of the Instant Pot so that steam can cook it on all sides - genius! Just to clarify, the trivet is a small metal insert that’s included in the box for when you need to lift ingredients off the bottom of the pot.

I love this dish for brunch entertaining because it’s unique, but simple to throw together and really delicious. It’s a crowd-pleaser!

Coconut Milk Yogurt (Stephanie Lee Nutrition)

I have to admit that I haven’t ventured into the yogurt-making setting yet but this coconut milk version is really intriguing! There’s a yogurt button to make the whole process faster and smoother than trying to figure it out on your own. This specific recipe is great for anyone who needs to/chooses to avoid dairy (plus less expensive than buying from the store).

Instant Pot Coconut Milk Yogurt

Sweet Potatoes (Sweet Peas and Saffron)

Baked sweet potatoes are a great staple to batch cook and keep handy for quick lunches and dinners throughout the week. You can stuff them with all of your favorite fillings (actually, here’s three ideas!) for a super satisfying 15-minute meal or mash the inside for a side dish. Using the instant pot cuts down the cook time by about half and frees up your oven for other items, which is especially helpful if you’re making these as part of your weekend meal prep routine.

Peach Jam (Marisa Moore Nutrition)

This simple jam recipe will definitely happen in my house once peaches come back into season later in the summer. In the meantime I may even try it with frozen peaches to see if it works since those are always available.

I’m always looking for new ways to incorporate Colorado peaches into just about everything (I’m kind of obsessed actually) and this comes together in just 20 minutes! In addition to spreading on toast, I can see this being a great way to add flavor to grilled fish and chicken. And how amazing is that color?

Instant Pot Peach Jam

Chicken Pho (Nom Nom Paleo)

HELLO. Did you know that not only can you cook an entire chicken in the IP, but you can then take it one step further and turn it into a delicious pho? This was actually one of the first recipes I attempted when I bought mine (ambitious? yes.) and it turned out great, although it’s definitely on the more time-intensive side than the others on this list.

Compared to traditional, “simmer on the stove all day” pho it is faster. Just note that the total time listed is 1.5 hours because you first have to cook and shred the chicken, then do a second cook.

Raisin Bread (The Foodie Dietitian)

Last but certainly not least, I am really excited about this raisin bread by Kara aka the Foodie Dietitian!

While this raisin bread doesn’t use the Instant Pot for the actual cooking process (you’ll need the oven for that part), it creatively utilizes the yogurt function for the rise which is so clever and something I would never think to do.

I’ve not tested this yet, but it’s on my list because it looks insanely delicious with butter slathered on top and there isn’t any kneading required, which cuts down on a step and saves time. Shortcut homemade bread? I’m in.

Instant Pot Raisin Bread

Which Instant Pot Model Should I Buy?

Now if you don’t currently own an Instant Pot and are interested in purchasing one, this is the one I have and love.

It’s a good size and has all of the features I’ve needed at a really affordable price point. I’m not sure if it’s temporary, but the price is actually significantly lower now than it was when I bought it.

Many people don’t realize, but this is actually a 7-in-1 appliance so in addition to the pressure cooker setting, it can also be used to cook a variety of ingredients with several different methods. If you do end up purchasing it, I hope you love it as much as I do!


Want more nutrition tips & recipes?

Subscribe to my emails. I'll give you a heads-up on what's new on the blog, plus share exclusive tips & offers.

I promise I won't send you spam. Unsubscribe at any time. Powered by ConvertKit