Every workday around 4 PM, we get slapped by the dreaded afternoon crunch—you know, that time of day when you try to battle low blood sugar to get all those little odds and ends of work done by 5. The only thing we like less than leaving an unfinished to-do list on our desk for tomorrow morning is heading home with a whopping hunger headache.
Well, make these snacks ahead of time and break them out when your attention starts to fade—you’ll fuel your brain and body to get you through that last hour or two. And if you bring enough to share, you’ll be treated like office royalty.
1. Crispy Spice-Brined Pecans
These spiced pecans—unlike their sugar-shellacked counterparts—are sitting, unassumingly, on a wonderful secret. At first glance, they appear raw and untouched, but one bite betrays that they're actually perfectly salted and spiced from within and dried to a crisp.
While the long brining and low, slow roasting technique takes a lot of time, it’s almost no effort on your part. And if you’re in a hurry, the times in the recipe can be approximated with little ill effect. We shaved a couple hours off the brining and roasting times, and the nuts still disappeared from the jar.
2. Cheese Crispettes
These savory biscuits are like grown-up Cheez-Its. Sharp cheddar cheese, cayenne, and paprika bring big flavor to the little bites (though, for a milder taste, feel free to adjust the seasonings). You can even make these gluten-free by using chickpea flour instead of all-purpose flour and Rice Krispies in place of panko breadcrumbs.
3. Easy Kale Chips
By simply tearing leaves of kale into bite-sized pieces, massaging them with oil, then seasoning and baking them, you can turn this salad green into a crispy, satisfying snack. The boxes of kale chips you find at the store are shockingly pricey, but don't let those numbers fool you—homemade kale chips are inexpensive to make. Not to mention, whipping up a batch at home will likely take you less time than making a trip to the store.
4. Sweet Pea Hummus
Esteemed vegan food writer Isa Chandra Moskowitz once said that hummus is a food group for vegans. We agree, but we think it’s also a food group for students, busy working people, and anyone who likes amazing, nutrient-rich food that’s ready in minutes. A light, delicate spin on traditional hummus, this recipe features fresh, bright green spring peas, lemon, and a hint of garlic.
5. Honey Ginger Almond Butter
Spiked with ginger and honey, this homemade almond butter is just barely spicy and sweet—and it’s just about the best thing ever slathered on sturdy whole wheat toast, apple slices, celery sticks, and that banana you never got around to eating for breakfast. If you want to experiment with other types of nuts, peanuts, cashews, hazelnuts, and sunflower seeds can all easily be turned into butter, too. You might even consider adding a bit of chocolate for a DIY take on Nutella.
6. Rosemary Thyme Pita Chips
We know what you're thinking: A pita chip is a pita chip, right? Wrong. This recipe is neither fussy nor overwrought, but it stands out for a couple of reasons. First, the chips are spread with both butter and honey before they're baked, making them extra rich and ever-so-slightly sweet. Second, the chips are dusted generously with dried herbs, which takes them from merely aromatic to downright fragrant (even more so after a day or two). Third, with all of that added flavor, they don’t require any accouterment—neither salsa nor guacamole need apply. We find them plenty addictive on their own.