Really Crunchy Chickpea Trail Mix Recipe

Crunchy Chickpea Trail Mix | pamela salzman

Snacks are tough.  My kids come home from school very hungry and they can eat a lot.  I want to offer them something nutritious obviously, but I don’t have a ton of time to make homemade snacks every day.   Some of my default snacks are hummus with veggies or whole grain crackers, rice cakes with nut butter, quesadillas, yogurt with granola, almond flour muffins, apples and bananas with nut butter, and smoothies.  Stovetop popcorn and granola bars are common, too.  If I left my son to his own devices, I’m sure he would polish off a pint of ice cream or a bag of tortilla chips, but he has homework to focus on and soccer practice or religious school, so he needs better fuel than that.

chickpeas for roasting

I’ve been intrigued by the appearance of “chickpea croutons” on dozens of salads I have seen all over Pinterest.  The cooked chickpeas are roasted until crunchy, sometimes seasoned with spices, and are a more nutritious alternative to croutons, which are basically small greasy bites of white toast.  I must have a little crunch in my salad, but I prefer the idea of chickpeas over croutons.  However, with all due respect to those who posted those crunchy chickpea recipes, most of them don’t work.  Either the chickpeas do not ever become crunchy or they only stay crunchy for a few hours and then they become soft, like real chickpeas.  My son actually likes chickpeas and he likes trailmix, so I had an idea to make crunchy chickpeas and mix them with nuts + dried fruit + dark chocolate = crunchy chickpea trailmix, a perfect snack.  Except I tried at least a dozen recipes and the chickpeas always eventually became soggy, until one time I roasted them in the oven for a little while and then turned the oven off but left the chickpeas in there.  In this way, they wouldn’t burn, but they would continue to dry out.  Ta da!  Winner!  This is the whole key to truly crisp-like-a-cracker chickpeas.

Crunchy Chickpea Trail Mix | pamela salzman

We are not nut-free in our house, nor do my kids go to nut-free schools, but I know there are a lot of families out there who contend with this challenge.  This trail mix is easy to make nut-free since the chickpeas make a great sub for nuts, and they are both high in protein which is something I always look for in a good snack.  And believe me, I am not trying to replace nuts.  Nuts are super good for you with exceptionally healthful fats, protein and fiber, BUT they are also high in calories and I have been known to overeat nuts without realizing it and it is possible to eat too much of a nutritious food if you are trying to maintain a healthy weight.  Like I said in my last post, I would be really skinny if nut butter didn’t exist!  The nice thing about trail mix is that you can make it with whatever you have and to your liking.  I love a good balance of sweet and salty, soft and crunchy, with a touch of dark chocolate for fun.  Trail mix is my go-to snack for traveling since it keeps really well, although in the summer I usually omit the chocolate so there’s no risk of melting.

Crunchy Chickpea Trail Mix | pamela salzman

Every time I teach any recipe, someone asks me, “Does Mr. Picky like this?”  90% of the recipes I teach, he does like/tolerate.  He ate almost an entire pan of crunchy chickpeas in one sitting.  We all loved these and I haven’t even begun to experiment with savory seasonings.  As long as you have the method down pat, you should definitely play around with different spices, like garlic powder + smoked paprika, cumin + cinnamon + cayenne, just to name a couple.  I think these would be amazing on salads, or on soups or on top of creamy dips like hummus, or as a “bar snack,” to serve with cocktails.  These would even make a great hostess gift, especially if you’ve already given everyone you know homemade granola too many times. 😉  I can’t wait to hear if you try this recipe.  Or just let me know about your experience roasting chickpeas until now!

Crunchy Chickpea Trail Mix | pamela salzman

5.0 from 2 reviews
Really Crunchy Chickpea Trail Mix
Serves: 2½ cups
  • 1 ½ cups cooked chickpeas, or 1 15-ounce can, drained and rinsed
  • 1 Tablespoon unrefined, virgin coconut oil
  • 1 Tablespoon pure maple syrup, Grade A or Grade B
  • pinch of sea salt
  • ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • pinch of cayenne pepper
  • ¼ cup goji berries or other dried fruit of choice, such as dried blueberries or cherries
  • ¼ cup dark chocolate pieces
  • ¼ cup pumpkin seeds or sunflower seeds, raw or toasted
  • ¼ cup toasted, unsweetened coconut flakes (I do this in a dry skillet over medium heat, stirring until golden brown)
  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line a baking sheet with unbleached parchment paper.
  2. Pat chickpeas dry as best you can. Remove whatever skins are loose. Place chickpeas on the baking sheet and roast for 20 minutes.
  3. Remove from the oven and add coconut oil, maple syrup and salt and toss to coat. Put back in the oven and roast for another 15-20 minutes, or until golden brown. If a few pop, that’s ok.
  4. Turn the oven off. Toss the chickpeas with spices. Return pan to the oven and with the oven door closed and the heat off, allow the chickpeas to sit in the warm oven for another hour or until perfectly crunchy. You’ll have to test one to be sure. It should be dry and airy. If they’re still not crunchy, leave in the oven with the door closed and the heat off until they are crunchy through and through. Set aside to cool at room temperature.
  5. Combine cooled chickpeas with dried fruit, dark chocolate, pumpkin seeds and toasted coconut. The crunchy chickpeas combine well with many different ingredients for a trail mix, so feel free to make swaps according to what you have on hand or what you like.


Salted Flourless Chocolate Chunk Cookies Recipe

salted flourless chocolate chunk cookies | pamela salzman

I swore I wouldn’t post this recipe, but I gave in to persistent begging.  I didn’t know the world needed another chocolate chip cookie recipe!  But apparently many people could not live without this one.  I will admit, these are quite, quite delicious and you can’t always say that about a grain-free, flourless cookie.

salted flourless chocolate chunk cookies | pamela salzman

The reason I was reluctant to post this is because it is a very finicky recipe.  I probably made these cookies 20-24 times and I had a couple of fails.  Not inedible fails, but they didn’t look like the pictures you see here.  Again, these are totally delicious in every way.  Big chunks of melty dark chocolate and crispy flakes of sea salt are always a win in my book.  The fact that these are also grain-free/flourless is just an added bonus, especially for all my GF and Paleo students, who seem to be growing in numbers.  Although that might just be the post-holiday detox trend.  I digress.


salted flourless chocolate chunk cookies | pamela salzman

The two ingredients that affect the outcome of these cookies are the almond butter and the sugar.  You cannot use a runny almond butter or one that is very oily.  Once during a class, I had a new jar of room temperature Maranatha almond butter which I may not have stirred properly to incorporate the oil on top.  I had oil dripping down my arms while I was rolling out the dough.  I knew the cookies were going to be a disaster and they kind of were — very flat, oily and crumbly at the edges.  Thankfully, this batter is a snap to make, so I just made another batch quickly with almond butter I had in the fridge.  The next round was perfect.

These cookies are slightly softer than traditional chocolate chip cookies, unless you use brown sugar and then they do get a little crispy around the edges.  The flavor is spot-on with just the right amount of sweetness.  After 2 days, I store them in the fridge.  They also freeze well.

salted flourless chocolate chunk cookies | pamela salzman

salted flourless chocolate chunk cookies | pamela salzman

Instead of giving you a blow-by-blow of all cookie escapades, let me summarize here:

  • use cold, refrigerated almond butter;
  • thicker almond butter is better than thinner;
  • if your nut butter is thinner, you can add 1 1/2 Tablespoons coconut flour to the batter;
  • you can make these with sunflower butter, but there will be a reaction between the sunflower butter and the baking soda which will tint the cookies green;
  • mix by hand (with a wooden spoon) not a mixer;
  • brown sugar, although a refined and not Pamela-approved sweetener, gave the best results — slightly crispy and chewy;
  • muscovado sugar was the second best and coconut sugar came in third — see the images in the post to compare;
  • do not use maple syrup, honey or another liquid sweetener;
  • you must allow the cookies to cool completely on the pan, not a cooling rack;
  • I always make 12 cookies, but you can make fewer and just make them bigger.

Ok, that’s all she wrote.  Hit me with your questions and let me know if you make them!

brown sugar used here
brown sugar (and peppermint bark instead of chocolate chunks)


muscovado sugar
muscovado sugar


coconut sugar
coconut sugar

4.8 from 5 reviews
Salted Flourless Chocolate Chunk Cookies
Serves: 12 cookies
  • 1 cup unsweetened, unsalted almond butter (raw or roasted, make sure it is well-blended)*
  • ½ cup coconut sugar, brown sugar or muscovado sugar
  • ¾ teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 large egg, at room temperature
  • ½ teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon Maldon salt, divided
  • ¾ cup chopped dark chocolate (about 4 ounces) or semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • optional add-ins: 2 Tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder to make chocolate cookies or ½ cup chopped walnuts or pecans
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and line two baking sheets with unbleached parchment paper.
  2. In a large mixing bowl, mix almond butter and sugar until well combined.
  3. Stir in baking soda, egg, vanilla and ½ teaspoon flaky salt until well combined.
  4. Stir in chocolate.
  5. Scoop a heaping tablespoon of dough onto the prepared baking sheet. Sprinkle the cookies with remaining ½ teaspoon salt.
  6. Bake for 8-10 minutes or until golden. Allow to cool completely on baking sheet before transferring to a rack. To keep longer than one or two days, store in the refrigerator.
*If your almond butter is thin and runny or very oily, add 1 ½ Tablespoons of coconut flour to the batter.
Please read the suggestions outlined in the post.


Whole Grain Olive Oil Cake with Rosemary and Dark Chocolate Recipe (refined sugar-free)

whole grain olive oil cake with rosemary and dark chocolate | pamela salzman

I made this cake once to bring a friend’s house for dinner and people were stealing each other’s crumbs.  I served it to my family and my son spit it out.  Just being honest.  It would be really awesome to say that my family loves everything I make, that my 10-year-old scarfs down whole grain cakes with rosemary and dark chocolate and never, ever, ever asks for Flaming Hot Cheetos.  But alas, I live in the real world with at least one child, as well as one adult, whose palates are rather, shall we say, simple.



chopped rosemary

But if I catered to the lowest common denominator in my house all the time, we’d never get to know the deliciousness that is this nutty, earthy, lightly sweet cake with a savory infusion of rosemary.  And dark chocolate!  Maybe it sounds like a weird combo to you.  I actually wasn’t sure myself when I first whisked these ingredients together, but the scent emanating from my oven was enough to convince me that this is a very tasty cake.

mix wet into dry

time to be baked

I love rustic desserts.  The flavors are deep and I don’t have to worry about anything looking too perfect.  And I think anything rustic lends itself better to whole grain flours.  I found this recipe in one of my favorite cookbooks, Good to the Grain, by Kim Boyce.  She uses refined flours and refined white sugar, but I actually think the cake tastes better and more interesting with whole spelt and whole wheat pastry flour, and sweetened with maple syrup.  I also don’t find myself in a sugar coma after eating a piece of this.

whole grain olive oil cake with rosemary and dark chocolate |pamela salzman

I mentioned that I have made this cake for after dinner, but I think it would also be lovely for a brunch.  Sweet and savory all in one easy-to-bake cake.  Maybe with a dollop of Greek yogurt.  Love it.  No thanks, Mr. Picky?  No problem.  More for me!

whole grain olive oil cake with rosemary and dark chocolate | pamela salzman

5.0 from 1 reviews
Whole Grain Olive Oil Cake with Rosemary and Dark Chocolate Recipe
Serves: 8
  • 1 cup unrefined, cold pressed, extra virgin olive oil + extra for greasing pan
  • ¾ cup whole spelt flour (or use all purpose)
  • 1 ½ cups whole wheat pastry flour or all-purpose flour
  • ¾ cup Grade A maple syrup or natural cane sugar*
  • 1 ½ teaspoons aluminum-free baking powder
  • ¾ teaspoon sea salt
  • 3 eggs, at room temperature
  • ¾ cup whole milk or unsweetened hemp milk, at room temperature
  • 1 ½ Tablespoons fresh rosemary, finely chopped (measure, then chop)
  • 5 ounces bittersweet chocolate (70% cacao), chopped into ½-inch pieces
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 9-inch round cake pan with olive oil.
  2. Whisk the dry ingredients (including cane sugar, if using) in a large bowl. Set aside.
  3. In another large bowl, whisk the eggs thoroughly. Add the maple syrup (if using), olive oil, milk and rosemary and whisk again.
  4. Using a spatula, fold the wet ingredients into the dry, gently mixing until combined. Stir in chocolate. Pour the batter into the pan, spreading evenly and smoothing the top.
  5. Bake for about 45-50 minutes, or until the top is domed, golden brown and a skewer inserted into the center comes out clean. The cake can be eaten warm or cool from the pan, or cooled, wrapped tightly in plastic, and kept for 2 days.
*If using cane sugar, add with the dry ingredients.  If using maple syrup, add with the wet ingredients.


Mini flourless chocolate cakes recipe

Mini Flourless Chocolate Cakes | Pamela Salzman

Mini Flourless Chocolate Cakes | Pamela Salzman

The last school the kids attended allowed cupcakes with 2-inch high thick blue frosting to be handed out at 10:30 am on your child’s birthday.  And if I do the math, that was about two birthdays every month.  The school also made a big deal about celebrating holidays with food, so my child went to school on Halloween and loaded up on candy even before she started trick or treating.  Then there were the ubiquitous bake sales and Friday candy, soda and pizza sales to raise money for whatever.  Nevermind the disruption to classroom teaching and the disastrous effect on learning, but what a poor message this sends to the children about food and how much we care about their health.


melt almond butter, butter and chocolate

smooth and creamy

The public schools my kids attend now have a policy against any food (even if you wanted to bring in kale chips) being sent in for birthdays and holidays.  If your child is in elementary school and you would like to mark his birthday, feel free to buy a book to donate to his classroom and volunteer 15 minutes to read it to the students.  All the kids will also give him a big card that says all the things they like about him.  Is this freakin’ awesome or what?  Just a happy birthday with no sugar rush before noon.  No bouncing off the walls when he gets home.  No pressure to be the mom who brings in the treat with the most sugar or artificially colored candy.  I always lost that one.

egg whites

I think 99% of children get more than an appropriate amount of sweets and treats outside of school that we don’t need to give it to them in places where it doesn’t belong.  Don’t even get me started on snack after soccer games.  BUT, I am of course a reasonable, fun mom who encourages eating a wide variety of wholesome foods with the occasional treat.  Actually, I allow treats more often than I’d like to, but the message is that those are not foods to be eaten more than once a day, preferably only once or twice a week.  But when a special holiday like Valentine’s Day rolls around, I am the first one in the kitchen baking up something special for my darlings.

folding egg whites into chocolate

I discovered these flourless chocolate cakes from the True Food Kitchen website.  True Food Kitchen is a chain of healthful restaurants started by Dr. Andrew Weil.  It’s really the kind of food I love — natural, unprocessed, flavorful, but not extreme in one way or another.  I happen to love chocolate and I drank Dr. Weil’s Kool Aid, so to speak, and believe all the wonderful benefits about dark chocolate’s antioxidant benefits and high mineral content.  It also happens to be a natural aphrodisiac.  Hmmmm……  Before you get any ideas, M&M’s don’t fall in the same category, sorry!  I also try to limit everyone’s consumption of gluten to just a wee bit, so these mini cakes looked perfect since they are flourless.  You figured that out on your own, I’m sure.

they'll puff up in the oven

These are the bomb, no joke.  I have never served them to anyone who didn’t think so, even Mr. Picky who could probably down all six of them if I let him.  They’re kind of a cross between a rich and dense cake and a souffle.  The cakes have a really nice chocolate flavor without making you tired of chocolate after two bites.  I think they’re just great plain, but everyone loves the raspberry sauce I make to go along with them.  The raspberry sauce is a great instant sauce to know how to make regardless of the cake.  It’s terrific poured over oodles things like yogurt or ice cream, French toast or pancakes, even your favorite porridge.  Did you catch that amazing nut butter and banana French toast I posted on facebook?  You’re not my facebook fan?  Bummer.  You should be!  This sauce would be awesome with that.  How about this, let’s say you don’t have time to whip up these chocolate cakes for dessert on Valentine’s Day.  Make the raspberry sauce the day before and serve it with store bought ice cream or pancakes just to have something a little special.

Mini Flourless Chocolate Cakes | Pamela Salzman

For lots more fun Valentine’s ideas, check out this post from last year.  You won’t believe all the things you can do with a heart-shaped cookie cutter!

5.0 from 1 reviews
Mini Flourless Chocolate Cakes
Serves: 6
  • 6 ounces dark chocolate, at least 70%
  • 6 Tablespoons unsalted butter + 1 teaspoon for greasing the ramekins
  • 6 Tablespoons unsalted creamy, raw almond butter
  • 1 teaspoon 100% pure vanilla extract
  • 3 eggs, at room temperature, separated
  • 6 Tablespoons granulated cane sugar*, divided
  • pinch of fine grain sea salt
  • Raspberry Sauce
  • 5 ounces frozen raspberries, about 1 cup
  • ¼ cup natural cane sugar (Sucanat) or granulated sugar
  • ⅓ cup hot water
  1. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees.
  2. Over a double boiler (can use medium glass bowl over a pot of simmering water), melt chocolate, butter and almond butter. Let cool. Stir in vanilla.
  3. While the chocolate mixture is cooling, lightly grease 6 4-ounce ramekins with the teaspoon of butter. If you don’t normally have success turning out cakes without leaving some in the pan, feel free to trace circles of parchment paper to line the bottoms of the ramekins.
  4. Separate the eggs and place the yolks in the bowl of an electric mixer. Add 3 tablespoons sugar and beat until a light, pale yellow color, about 6 minutes. Slowly pour the in the melted chocolate and mix until combined. Pour back into the bowl that had the chocolate. Wash and dry the mixing bowl.
  5. In the clean mixing bowl, add the egg whites. Whisk until frothy. Slowly add the sugar and salt and whisk until soft peaks form. Carefully fold the whites into the chocolate mixture until combined. You do this by getting your spatula to the bottom of the bowl and pulling some chocolate out and over the egg whites. Turn your bowl a little and do it again. Keep pulling the chocolate out and over until you don’t see any more white streaks.
  6. Spoon the batter into the ramekins. Bake for 15 minutes or until tops are dry and the cakes are set. They will be puffed when you take them out of the oven, but if you let them sit on the countertop, they do deflate. Feel free to eat them warm out of the ramekin or allow to cool before unmolding. If you unmold them while they are too warm, they won’t unmold easily.
  7. Prepare the raspberry sauce: place raspberries, sugar and hot water in a blender or food processor and blend until smooth. (Can be made one day ahead and kept refrigerated.)
  8. Serve each cake with raspberry sauce spooned around decoratively.
*You can substitute coconut palm sugar for cane sugar in the chocolate mixture. If so, increase cooking time by an extra 2-3 minutes.