September’s Foodie Penpals recap

Have you ever read those charming newspaper interviews with especially elderly citizens? Maybe it’s a small town thing. I find them fascinating, but as soon as I get to the paragraph where the sprightly 105-year-old attributes her longevity to “never snacking between meals,” I can’t help but roll my eyes. I am a devoted snacker, and if I live to be 100 you can bet I’ll chalk it up to the goods that kept me from completely losing my mind out of hanger.

That’s why I was so pleased to get a box full of new snacks in the mail last month. In August I signed up for Foodie Penpals, a terrific program that lets you exchange edible gifts with participants all around the country. I packed up local spices, honey, and various snacks and sent them off to one of my partners, and within a few weeks I received my own box from my other partner, Bethany.

I realized after our first email exchange that I’d given Bethany very little information about myself, other than, “I don’t like fennel.” Helpful. But she must have sensed my need for snack food, because she sent me a wonderful assortment of sweets and savories.

First glimpse…

I was particularly happy with Bethany’s choices, as every single product was new to me but included some of my favorite flavors.

This collection meets every one of my snacktime needs: second breakfast, post-exercise sustenance, pre-dinner meltdown prevention, and the “I’ve had too much coffee” break. In the photo from the top left, you’ll see peanut butter granola, dry-roasted edamame beans, vanilla Rooibos tea, sweet potato crackers, cinnamon almonds, ginger candies, and quinoa.

My mother and I demolished the cinnamon almonds and peanut butter granola almost immediately, stirred into yogurt, with fruit, and straight from the bag. I’ve taken special care to deposit an emergency stash of the ginger drops in various compartments of my car and bag, since there’s nothing I love more than rifling around in some pocket only to find surprise candy.

I don’t drink enough tea these days, but this little jar of Rooibos reminded me how much I enjoy it. Rooibos is an herbal tea from Africa that is earthy and slightly sweet, and it’s mild enough so that my tendency to over-steep teabags is never a problem. It’s nice to have a cup in the afternoon with a little side of roasted edamame; I always want to pat myself on the back and say “good for you, healthy one.”

I was pleased to see the quinoa, since it’s one of my favorite starches. The last time I fixed it for myself, there was an incident involving boiling quinoa, my mouth, my hand, and the floor, so when I make this I’ll think first, taste later. After it cools.

My favorite snack and the biggest surprise in my Foodie Penpals box was the gluten-free black pepper and sweet potato crackers.

I am deeply suspicious of anything that tries to call itself a potato chip but is really baked/puffed/dehydrated/etc. Fortunately, these crackers make no such pretense, and they’re awesome. They’re simple–thin, crunchy disks of sweet potato, sesame seeds, and flecks of black pepper–and the flavor settles perfectly between salty and spicy. And did I mention how crunchy they are? I’ve had the box on my desk for at least a week (a true test of will–it’s been difficult) and they’re still as crisp as the day I tore into the package.

As snacks go, I lucked out. There are munchies here for every kind of craving, and they’re all (fairly) healthy. All the better to get me to that snack-praising interview at age 102. Thanks Bethany!

If you like food, mail, and eating things you can’t find in your own grocery, consider signing up for next month’s Foodie Penpals exchange. October’s is already underway, but you can sign up for the November trade in a couple of weeks. Maybe we’ll be partners–remember, no fennel.

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