some snacks for winter brightness

cumin roasted chickpea + eggplant lettuce wraps with mango jicama shreds + mint // the first messpin it!cara cara orange with yogurt, zapin it!roasted pineapple spice shake // the first messpin it!
vanilla coconut whipped chia mousse w/ tart raspberries + bee pollen // the first messpin it!

“Everyone I know is looking for solace, hope and a tasty snack.”
-Maira Kalman

prep for snacks // the first messpin it!
Just the quickest of hellos today. It’s very true, as it may be for many of you, that this winter is beginning to drag and gnaw a bit. Life is somehow still faster and fuller than ever, so inventive snacks have been popping up more often than the well-planned meals with creative side dishes and desserts that require a speck of forethought. So it goes. I find splurging on some of the more exotic bits of produce helps to brighten up the sometimes too vast-seeming bleakness of the chill in the fields ’round here. A pesky cold finally managed to grab me this season (after I spent a whole week bragging to almost anyone how miraculous my immunity had been–womp womp), so these snacks have vitamins, spice, sharpness and other superpowers lurking within. There’s a roasted pineapple shake with turmeric, nutmeg and cinnamon, simply filled out with almond milk and ice. Another sweet is the coconut vanilla whipped chia mousse with smushed raspberries at the base and a happy sprinkle of bee pollen on top. There’s a butter lettuce wrap with cumin-y roasted chickpeas and eggplant, all livened up with a mango jicama tangle and some cool mint. Lastly there’s a segmented orange that feels savoury once plated with a swipe of yogurt, some toasted pine nuts, olive oil and za’atar. Sending warmth and a little extra hope for spring this week :) xo

some snacks for winter brightness // the first messpin it!
1. roasted pineapple + warm spice shake
serves: 2
notes: I add ice to mine, but if you have the patience to freeze the roasted pineapple first, it probably wouldn’t be necessary.

2 cups diced fresh pineapple
1 tsp neutral oil
1 tsp + 1 tbsp maple syrup, divided
grated nutmeg
1 cup unsweetened almond milk
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground turmeric
splash of vanilla extract
big handful of ice

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Line a sheetpan with parchment paper. Toss the pineapple with the oil, 1 tsp of the maple syrup, a tiny bit of salt and nutmeg. Roast the fruit until slightly caramelized and soft, about 20 minutes. Allow pineapple to cool.

Once cool, blend the pineapple on high with the almond milk, cinnamon, turmeric, vanilla and ice. Pour into two glasses and enjoy immediately.

2. coconut vanilla whipped chia mousse w/ smashed raspberries
serves: 4
notes: I just thaw frozen raspberries from the summertime and use them as a tart foil to the lusciousness of the mousse. I imagine plenty of things would be nice with this though, like cacao nibs, chopped almonds, slices of mango, spice roasted apples etc.

1 can full fat coconut milk, stirred
1/4 cup chia seeds (white or black)
2 tbsp maple syrup
seeds scraped from half a vanilla bean (or a hearty splash of extract)
2 tbsp coconut butter
salt to taste
splash of almond or other milk (optional)
thawed frozen raspberries
bee pollen (optional)

Whisk together the coconut milk and chia seeds and let them sit for about 15 minutes or until they’ve noticeably thickened. Once thickened, scrape the coconut milk and chia seeds into a blender and add all of the other ingredients except for the raspberries and bee pollen. Blend on high until you have a creamy and smooth consistency, adding splashes of almond milk to thin out if necessary. Scrape mousse into a bowl and cover with cling film, pressing the film onto the surface of the mousse. Chill the mousse thoroughly.

Once ready to serve, smash up some thawed frozen raspberries in the bottom of your serving vessels. Divide the coconut vanilla chia mousse amongst the servings. Sprinkle the tops with bee pollen if you like and serve.

3. cumin-roasted chickpea + eggplant lettuce wraps with minted mango jicama slaw
serves: 2-4
notes: Any lettuce for wrapping is fine here, I just like the sturdy richness of butter/Boston/bibb lettuce. Also, if you can’t find jicama, shred up any other crunchy and lightly sweet fruit/vegetable you like. Carrots, apples, celery root, radishes etc.

1 cup cooked chickpeas
1 small eggplant, small dice
1 tbsp oil
1 tsp ground cumin
salt + pepper
1 head butter lettuce, leaves separated
1 mango, peeled + finely shredded
1/2 small jicama, peeled + finely shredded
juice of 1 lime
fresh mint leaves
chipotle powder (optional)

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Toss the chickpeas, eggplant, oil, cumin, salt and pepper together and spread them out evenly on the baking sheet. Roast the mixture until the chickpeas are crispy and the eggplant is browned, flipping them about here and there, about 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, combine the shredded mango and jicama in a medium bowl with the juice of the lime. Season the mix with salt, pepper, and chipotle powder if you like. Serve the slaw with butter lettuce leaves, roasted chickpeas + eggplant, mint leaves and more chipotle powder. Assemble all components together within butter lettuce leaves. Eat immediately.

4. a simple sorta savoury orange w/ yogurt, olive oil, za’atar + pine nuts
notes: I used a cara cara orange here, but any kind of orange would be fine–maybe even a segmented grapefruit could be nice.

1 orange, peeled + segmented
3 tbsp – 1/4 cup plain yogurt of your choosing (goat, sheep, cow, almond, coconut etc)
drizzle of extra virgin olive oil
1/2 tsp za’atar
little handful fully toasted pine nuts

Place the orange segments on a plate. Spoon the yogurt onto the side of the plate and drizzle the olive oil on top of it. Sprinkle the yogurt with za’atar and top the whole thing with the toasted pine nuts and a little pinch of salt. Eat immediately.

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  • Kathryn20/02/2014 - 6:20 am

    A much needed blast of sunshine + life this morning, thank you Laura. This gives me hope that there is an end in sight to the unrelenting gloom of this time of year.ReplyCancel

  • molly yeh20/02/2014 - 9:29 am

    can i come over to your house for snack time?ReplyCancel

  • Emma20/02/2014 - 9:41 am

    Wow, gorgeous! I will be trying the pineapple shake this weekend for sure.ReplyCancel

  • Lindsey20/02/2014 - 9:42 am

    Read mah mind! These winter snacks totally kill it. I love the vibrant and flavorful combo of ingredients. Each snack is super thoughtful and super fresh! And I totally hear you on the cold-front, I thought I was immune from colds after not having one for over a year, and then BAM! I got hit the most epic of colds. Glad you’re on the mend, friend!ReplyCancel

  • kw20/02/2014 - 10:49 am

    You are truly gifted with your recipe creations and the beautiful photography…still my favorite food blog hands down.ReplyCancel

  • Aleksandra20/02/2014 - 11:31 am

    Just lovely! I have been craving something as vibrant and delicious as these snacks. How do you do it? Everything seems so effortless and inspired. Congratulations!ReplyCancel

  • maja20/02/2014 - 11:42 am

    Bright, gorgeous photos as always. That whipped chia mousse is on my to-do list for the weekend – amazingly creative!ReplyCancel

  • Sini | my blue&white kitchen20/02/2014 - 12:05 pm

    The coconut vanilla whipped chia mousse – WOW! I think we all really need these colorful snacks during the last winter months when we long for spring to come already. A beautiful, highly inspiring post.ReplyCancel

  • Amy (parsley in my teeth)20/02/2014 - 12:09 pm

    So sorry to hear you were bitten by a bug! I, too, thought I had super immunity, just to get hit over the head with a triple combo virus — while on vacation no less! Will definitely be trying your snacks. They all look delicious!ReplyCancel

  • Caitlin20/02/2014 - 12:14 pm

    what a fun post! i love all of these snack ideas. i have the same sentiments about this weather and the fullness of life. i really appreciate all of these delicious options, particularly the whipped chia pudding!ReplyCancel

  • shilpa20/02/2014 - 12:56 pm

    This seriously brightened my day! Oh what a winter it has been! I love the addition of nigella seeds on top of the warm spiced shake. I can’t wait to try them all!ReplyCancel

  • Leigh T Wetzel20/02/2014 - 1:20 pm


  • Ashley20/02/2014 - 1:51 pm

    Gorgeous + delicious enough for all four to snap me out of a winter funk. Amazing photography and writing, as always.ReplyCancel

  • Elizabeth20/02/2014 - 2:55 pm

    Yes! This was the week I think everyone was like, WTF winter (or maybe the past six)? And I so agree about searching the corners of the produce aisle for wintertime cheer. It’s warm somewhere, right? Can’t wait to dig into all three of these great snacks.ReplyCancel

  • mardi20/02/2014 - 3:42 pm

    what if i don’t have coconut butter…is there a good substitute?ReplyCancel

    • Laura Wright20/02/2014 - 4:41 pm

      Hi Mardi, you can substitute some dried, shredded coconut or a dab of extra virgin coconut oil.

  • cheri20/02/2014 - 7:03 pm

    Hope your feeling better. Thanks for sharing these snacks, they are the best!ReplyCancel

  • Grace20/02/2014 - 9:51 pm

    So much beauty and brightness in this one post – I can hardly deal.ReplyCancel

  • Harriet20/02/2014 - 9:56 pm

    Dude – these look like vibrant and magical snacks. All of the flavours seem to sparkle. Especially that roasted pineapple – delish xReplyCancel

  • Mimi21/02/2014 - 9:39 am

    I’m sorry but I can’t get past the photos. Incredible.ReplyCancel

  • Sam22/02/2014 - 4:27 pm

    I was wondering where all of these photos were coming from on Pinterest. Sure enough, they’re from your blog! You have a wonderful imagination!ReplyCancel

  • Lily (A Rhubarb Rhapsody)22/02/2014 - 6:25 pm

    Such beautiful photos. That pineapple and warm spice shake sounds sublime.ReplyCancel

  • Hilary23/02/2014 - 12:42 am

    All these yummy looking snacks just *brightened* my day ;)

    Question: You live in Ontario, correct? Where the heck did you get za’atar? I’ve looked just about everywhere I can think of!

    Thanks for your inspiring food :)ReplyCancel

  • Brian @ A Thought For Food24/02/2014 - 1:54 pm

    I often like to eat dishes that are refreshing this time of year. Citrus is always something we keep around (for cocktails, but for other recipes… but mostly for cocktails). That savory orange dish with the za’atar and the yogurt. Yeah, I need that in my life.ReplyCancel

  • Chelsea // The Naked Fig24/02/2014 - 6:03 pm

    How amazing to get so many recipes in one! Citrus has been the main thing brightening up winter for me this year. Thanks for all the other suggestions! Nutmeg with pineapple is ingenious! Why didn’t I think of that!?ReplyCancel

  • Millie26/02/2014 - 6:39 pm

    These all look delicious! You’re definitely right about a few more exotic things brightening up the season – I’ve been throwing mangoes in my smoothies this week to try and do just that. I’m really keen to try a recipe with chia seeds soon so this might just be the one :)ReplyCancel

  • Jessica's Dinner Party26/02/2014 - 9:58 pm

    Been needing a little pump up to get me through the last bit of winter! Inspired by all the recipes up here.ReplyCancel

  • Marion28/02/2014 - 5:35 pm

    MY GOD ! I would be so so puzzled if I was in front of those de-li-cious snacks… Its so beautiful that It would be a shame to eat them…. but not to eat them would be a shame too ! AAAAHHH DILEMMA :D

    Anyway, I clap my hand for this beautiful recipe :)

    Come by one day :) bye !ReplyCancel

  • Jo (yummyvege)14/03/2014 - 11:38 am

    Why don’t I ever have such original snacks? I’ve been meaning to experiment with chia seeds for a while now- lets see if this is the push I need!ReplyCancel

  • […] 1 Tarocco-Orange schälen und filetieren. Orangenfilets auf einem Teller anrichten. 2 EL Labneh oder gekauftes Griechisches Joghurt dazugeben. Mit 0.5 TL Za’atar bestreuen, 1 EL Olivenöl darüber träufeln. 1 gehäufter EL geröstete Pinienkerne darüber geben. Servieren. Quelle: The First Mess […]ReplyCancel

  • […] Roasted pineapple has been ruining everything I thought I knew about pineapple. How could something so delicious take it to the next level? Its natural sugars caramelize, deeply intensifying the flavour, while the hint of salt and pepper act to balance out the sweetness. It is not even fair that nature grows something so ridiculous and then allows you to make it crazy ridiculous with barely any effort. […]ReplyCancel

  • […] Roasted pineapple has been ruining everything I thought I knew about pineapple. How could something so delicious take it to the next level? Its natural sugars caramelize, deeply intensifying the flavour, while the hint of salt and pepper act to balance out the sweetness. It is not even fair that nature grows something so ridiculous and then allows you to make it crazy ridiculous with barely any effort. […]ReplyCancel

  • allison12/12/2014 - 2:00 pm

    they all sound so delicious and look beautiful! thanks again for the wonderful recipes and photos; can’t wait to make them!ReplyCancel

  • Leanna26/11/2017 - 9:56 pm

    Thanks for the idea to blend the chia mousse in the blender. I’ve made a few coconut milk chia puddings, leaving the seeds whole, and your direction to blend the seeds up improved the texture. It was more of a creamy, fluffy mouse and less of a slippery pudding. Yay!
    I feel like when I blended the chia seeds the fishy taste was more noticeable though. Once I added the maple syrup and vanilla and chilled it was better and with the topping no one else seemed to think it was fishy except me.

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