When a friend who is on the South Beach Diet told me that he had heard about a snack-chip recipe that was permissible, I didn't believe him.
A few hours later, he surfaced from his computer terminal with a basic recipe for chips made from wonton wrappers. I grimaced, thinking to myself, "How in the world could eggroll or wonton wrappers satisfy a chip craving and be low-fat, too?"
Wanting to facilitate this friend's diet dream come true, I took the recipe and headed to the store. I added a few spices and herbs to flavor up the basic recipe and created a chip that even nondieters now ask me for.
Note that not all smaller stores carry wonton wrappers. Check your supermarket's produce section, specifically the refrigerated case with things like salad dressings and vegan meat substitutes. Asian markets readily carry them. You can buy either wonton or eggroll wrappers. They are the same product, just different sizes. Sometimes you find circular wonton wrappers and they will work, too, but the chips will be moon-shaped, not triangular. Don't make the mistake of buying rice-paper spring-roll wrappers. They are a whole different ball game.
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You can make these chips as hot or as bland as you like. If you don't like it too spicy, just brush olive oil, basil and Parmesan cheese on the chips before baking. You can also use garlic and red pepper. Or you can use fresh herbs and spices to flavor the chips. Experiment with flavors until you have just the right chip taste.
When you dip these heart-healthy, thin and crunchy chips into another favorite of mine -- fresh guacamole with toasted pumpkin seeds -- you will question why you ever binged on boring old regular chip and dip at tailgate parties.
Incidentally, when my dieting friend tried these, his eyes rolled into the back of his head as he sat up to grill me on what sort of calorie crime had been committed. He was certain that I had deep-fried these delish bites of heaven. I was innocent on all charges. He enjoyed these crunchy, flavorful chips and my game-time guac while watching college football, suddenly very distracted.
Guiltless wonton chips
1/2 cup olive oil (you can use as little or as much as you like, but a light coat on the chips is all that is needed )
2 tablespoons chopped basil, fresh or dried
1 garlic clove, chopped (or substitute garlic seasoning powder), optional
1 teaspoon red pepper seasoning (flakes or sprinkles), optional
Package of wonton wrappers (or eggroll wrappers)
1/4 cup Parmesan powder cheese in a shaker (use as much or as little as you like)
Sprinkling of salt, optional
1. To make the chips, preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray a baking sheet with cooking spray or lightly coat a large cookie sheet with oil. I like to use parchment paper to make my chips. It helps them not stick to the pan and eases pan cleanup.
2. To make the oil mixture, which you will brush onto the chips before baking, put olive oil into a small mixing bowl. Add fresh chopped or dried basil and whisk. Optionally, you can add red pepper and garlic to this mixture to spice it up a bit.
3. Place the wonton triangles in a single layer on the sheet pan and brush the tops with the olive oil mixture so that each side is lightly moistened. Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese before baking. Bake for 5-8 minutes, or until the wonton wrappers have curled at the edges and are just very lightly browned. Watch them carefully, because you'll be surprised how quickly these cook, and you don't want to burn them. Salting the chips is optional. (I don't salt mine because I use the spices and cheese.) Let the chips cool slightly and place in a basket for serving.
Serving and storing: They might keep one day, but it is best to eat these right out of the oven. You can make nachos with them by adding beef or chicken, beans and sour cream to each chip. This will make more of a meal than a snack.
Nutritional information per chip (based on use of 2 tablespoons olive oil): 58 calories, 2 grams fat, 8 grams carbohydrates, 2 grams protein, 2 milligrams cholesterol, 97 milligrams sodium, trace dietary fiber, 26 percent of calories from fat.
Game-time guacamole with toasted pumpkin seeds
4 ripe avocados, skins and seeds removed
1/2 cup tomatoes, diced
1/4 cup red onions, minced (optional)
1/4 cup cilantro, minced
1-3 teaspoons jalapeño peppers, minced (use right amount for desired heat)
1/2 cup mix of Mexican-flavored shredded cheese. (You can experiment with different cheeses. Try grated asiago cheese or queso anejado, for example.)
1 teaspoon salt (or to taste, optional)
1 teaspoon olive oil
1/4 to 1/2 cup pepitas (pumpkin seeds)
1/2 small lime (squeezed)
1. Mix first seven ingredients in a mixing bowl and mash together, leaving the avocados slightly chunky. Season to taste.
2. Toast pepitas by brushing the pan with olive oil and allowing them to toast in the oven for about 10 minutes at 350 degrees. You will smell the pumpkin seeds while they are toasting; don't burn them. Let seeds fully cool, then add some to the guacamole.
3. Squeeze half a small lime into the bowl and give it a final stir. Move mixture to a presentation bowl and top with remaining toasted pumpkin seeds. Garnish with a few sprigs of cilantro and serve, with the chips, right away, to avoid any browning of the guac.
Nutritional information per 2-tablespoon serving: 70 calories, 6 grams fat, 3 grams carbohydrates, 1 gram protein, 2 milligrams cholesterol, 106 milligrams sodium, 1 gram dietary fiber, 74 percent of calories from fat.