When the craving for the perfectly crispy, salty snack strikes, it must be remedied immediately. When you add in an insatiable desire for something spicy, you’re almost compelled by force to the nearest 7-11 to gorge on Flamin’ Hot Cheetos. Fortunately for your fingers and your digestive tract, you don’t have to resort to convenience store junk when you’re seriously jonesing for something salty, spicy, and crunchy.
You likely have something lingering in your pantry or refrigerator that can totally solve your spicy-salty problem without all those freaky chemicals and empty calories. Look around in your cabinets for the foundations for these five easy snacks and you’ll have something satisfying in less time than it would take for you to find pants and drive to inferior snacks.
Chickpeas are great for more than just hummus, and roasted chickpeas may quickly become a snack that you’re totally addicted to. Just mix a (drained) can of chickpeas with your favorite blend of spices — try cumin, garlic, and fiery Thai chili powder — and bake in the oven until they’re nice and crispy. You’ll get the crunch that you need with a hefty dose of protein and fiber, and this snack is so delicious that you won’t even think about your usual bag of potato chips.
Kale chips get all the love in the healthy foodie world, but arugula is where it’s at when you’re craving spice. The natural pepperiness of this bitter green is still prominent after a quick roast in the oven, and you can punch that up by adding plenty of spices like garlic and aleppo pepper or your favorite fiery curry blend. If all arugula is a little too verdent and spicy for you, you can always do a mix of half arugula, half kale or spinach. Just be sure to bake your batches separate so that they can cook evenly.
Those blah bags of nuts at the convenience store aren’t going to do much to sate your craving, but a homemade blend of spicy, roasted nuts will certainly do the trick. You can use just about any nut, but peanuts, almonds, cashews, and macadamia nuts are easy to toast and are packed with plenty of awesome nutrients. Try Ina Garten’s smoky-sweet chipotle and rosemary roasted nuts, or get creative with your own spice blends — just make sure to use plenty of cayenne or dried chili to really get that spicy flavor that you’re searching for.
This Japanese blend of nori, hot chili peppers, and other flavor-packed goodies is cheap at Asian markets and incredibly versatile. If you’ve got a bag of frozen edamame hanging out in your freezer, give it a quick steam and then get prepared for the best edamame you’ve ever had in your life. Mix together soy sauce, a healthy dash of togarashi, sesame seeds or oil, and a little fresh citrus zest, then wok-fry your edamame before finishing it with the umami-packed dressing that you created in just a couple of minutes.
A food dehydrator isn’t necessary for awesome fruit leathers that lack the sugar and preservatives of their store-bought counterparts. Mango and chile powder is a traditional combination, and the mix of sweet and spicy is totally addictive. Slice a ripe mango thinly, then sprinkle with chile powder (or a Mexican chile-lime powder like Tajin) and bake at a low temperature until your fruit is dried and, well, a little leathery. Or, if you’re really lazy, you could just slice a fresh mango, then top with a little Tajin and salt. Either way, you’re going to come away with an awesome snack.
Amy McCarthy is Paste’s Assistant Food Editor.
Photo: Aida Mollenkamp, CC BY-NC-ND