Grazing: portable snacks & finger foods for anytime, anywhere

By Julie Van Rosendaal

Published by Whitecap Books

There’s something about me that you should know: I am a lover of all food that is snackable. I’ve often thought that my preference for such food is a direct result of being a mother of small children, as the likelihood of sitting down and enjoying a full meal uninterrupted is slim to none. Snacking on small bites while fetching juice, wiping up the juice after it spills, refilling cups with more juice to replace the previously spilled liquid is much more convenient. But the truth is that I have always loved snack food. Given the choice of having one large meal or an assortment of various appetizers, I always go for the latter.

Grazing: portable snacks & finger foods for anytime, anywhere has been a part of my cookbook collection for years, however it wasn’t until I was at a recent cocktail party where the entire (delicious!) spread was made from this book that I decided to crack open my own copy and get testing.

Written by Julie Van Rosendaal, this book is comprised entirely of low-fat recipes meant to satisfy our cravings for traditional snack food. Julie is a food writer, author, stylist, journalist and TV host, whose low fat cookbook series has become a national bestseller.

This book has earned a place on my VIP kitchen self, each recipe I tried having turned out deliciously. Before deciding on three recipes to test, I embarked upon my usual process of flipping through the entire book and marking pages with recipes of interest. Upon noticing that the majority of recipes in the book were flagged, Mr. Spock suggested I keep track of the ones I wasn’t interested in trying as the list was smaller!

When next needing inspiration for appetizers to bring to parties or simply serve at home, I will definitely turn to this book. And the best part? Everything is low fat so you can feel good about your waistline at the same time as satisfying a severe case of the munchies.

Hot Crab & Artichoke Dip

RATING: 3.5 out of 5

THE TEST: Crab and artichoke dip has long since been a common staple at parties, usually served along with a healthy dose of calories and guilt. I happen to love crab dip, which to me epitomizes the concept of entertaining. Because of this, I have a number of different variations of this dip in my recipe arsenal which includes Tyler Florence’s Crab Dip with Garlic Saltines and Roasted Cherry Tomatoes. Despite my love for this appetizer, I seldom serve it as Mr. Spock believes that (along with sundried tomatoes, artichokes, and chipotle) crab dip has become too much of a culinary cliché. But when given the opportunity to make a low fat version of this dip, I cast my husband’s prejudices aside and gave it a go!

THE RESULTS: Without seeing the list of ingredients there is no way of knowing that this is a low fat recipe (Mr. Spock begs to differ). All of the creaminess associated with crab dip was present (Mr. Spock begs to differ). Normally I stay away from low fat cream cheese and sour cream which I find lack flavour of any kind, but in this dish the replacement went unnoticed.

One Bite Brownies

RATING: 4 out of 5

THE TEST: Have you ever tried those addictive brownie morsels that come in the brown paper bag and can be found in the bakery aisle of most grocery stores? Have you ever been able to just eat one? Exactly. So when I saw this book included a recipe for a low fat version of these brownies, I became very excited at the possibility of being able to enjoy this treat without the usual calorie related guilt.

THE RESULTS: These One Bite Brownies not only looked exactly like the ones in the grocery store, they tasted exactly like the ones in the grocery store. No fooling! I ended up making a large batch and giving some away to my pregnant sister-in-law who almost divorced Mr. Spock’s brother after he delved into her stash. Yes, they are that good.

NOTE: when Julie says not to over bake the brownies be sure to heed her words of advice. I kept mine in the oven a tad too long and they weren’t quite as fudgy as I would have liked.

Sticky, Spicy Drumsticks

RATING: 3 out of 5

THE TEST: Both Mr. Spock and I happen to love drumsticks, but whenever we make them at home we always find them to be…well…creepy. The idea of getting rid of the skin before baking the chicken is one that we had never really considered before, and which worked well in alleviating our creepiness in consuming drumsticks.

I ended up marinating the chicken overnight which is not called for in the recipe, but I think it infused the chicken with more flavour prior to us throwing it on the grill.

THE RESULTS: You can easily broil the drumsticks in the oven if you wish, however the marinade combined with the smokiness of the grill was delicious. I went easy on the hot sauce because we were serving the chicken to the girls, but there was still a nice contrast in flavour between the sweet and spicy.

This turned out to be a tasty (and easy!) dish, although if I were being honest I would have to say that I prefer the flavours of Anthony Sedlak’s Asian Spiced Chicken Wing marinade which in my opinion is more well rounded.