How can you fight the munchies with food that tastes good and is good for you?
It happens all the time: The post-smoke hunger pangs that lead you to the fridge or the cupboard for something to eat. The usual suspects — high-calorie low-nutrition snack foods — taste good but they aren’t the best for you.
We asked some authorities how a smoker can balance the need for something to munch on with good (or at least better) nutrition to make the “Ultimate Stoner Food.”
L.A.-based clinical nutritionist Stephan Dorlandt, known as the “Angry Nutritionist” on YouTube, believes that to be an “Ultimate Stoner Food,” a food product has to meet the following criteria:
“1. Taste should be savory; that is, not salty or sweet (not bitter or sour), but finger-licking good.
“2. ‘Mouth feel’ should be soft yet firm (like scallops); not mushy; not messy; self-contained (fits in one hand); not bony (if you’re stoned you don’t want to be surprised by a bone); not stringy, not seedy; consistent overall texture.
“3. Temperature should be warm. Too hot or too cold can be surprising (and dangerous) to those under the influence.
“4. Easy to digest. You want to enjoy your munchy and your high, and not be plagued with indigestion, gas, etc., so fried foods and pizza are out.
“5. Easy to prepare and/or ready-to-eat.”
Dorlandt’s recommended foods which meet some (if not all) of these criteria include samosas, the stuffed triangular pastry; scallops with butter and garlic sauce; melted brie on a French roll; the Italian dumplings known as gnocchi; the Middle Eastern confection halvah; macadamia nuts; artichoke hearts; shiitake mushrooms; baked cassava chips; and miso soup.
Chef Betty Fraser, who has appeared on Bravo’s “Top Chef” and operates the restaurant Grub in a converted 1920s bungalow in Hollywood, specializes in California comfort food. “It’s safe to say we have a pretty good handle on what the ‘happy’ people gravitate towards.”
“It’s big flavors. It’s a case of hypersensitivity, and the more wow factor to the dish, the more explosions of flavors, that’s what people gravitate towards. Stoney food usually encompasses the sweet or the salty, but I think texture has a big part to play as well,” Fraser says. “Of course, like all foods, there is a direct result on the body. Gobble up a bag of Doritos and you’re going to be parched, full and your energy will be sapped. Pound a half-dozen donuts and you’re going to spike and then crash. So, like most things, timing and moderation is the key to a pleasurable eating experience.”
Fraser recommends a classic grilled cheese sandwich, which she makes with cheddar and Swiss on toasted sourdough bread at Grub. “It’s something pretty easy for people to fire up at home. And if you want a little extra zip buy a can of crispy fried onions and sprinkle generously.”
For do-it-yourselfers, Fraser suggests this sweet-and-salty snack: “If you want to blow your friends’ minds grab some cookie dough, crush a package of pretzels or potato chips, roll the dough around until it’s covered and then bake. Here’s a Professional Chef Tip: Turn off the oven when you’re done.”
When preparing post-smoke treats, Fraser recommends mixing familiar flavors in new combinations: “For oatmeal, you can add toasted walnuts, caramelized bananas and maple syrup. That will take it over the top. At the restaurant, we put hot wings on macaroni and cheese, but at home you can make a box of commercial macaroni and cheese, you can get a package of pulled barbecued pork and put that on top. It adds flavor and texture, and it’s really easy. Put salsa on salad or cooked pasta. Popcorn — you can make that in the microwave — instead of salt, put some black pepper and Parmesan cheese on it.
“That’s how I think as a chef: first add one ingredient. If that works, add two. People who are stoners like a lot of things going on.”
On a retail level, restauauteur Chris Badouin, owner of Roy’s Chicago Hot Dogs & Beef Shop in Petaluma (“The best Stoner food in the San Francisco area”) says that post-smoke favorites include the Maddy Dog, with ketchup, mustard, mayo, bacon and cheese melted under a broiler, and the Yogi Dog, with potato salad, celery salt, brown mustard, bacon, cheese, relish and tomatoes. Extra-large appetites can chow down on the Home Wrecker, a 12-inch half-pound dog, and the Big Bad Weiner, a 22-inch full-pound dog that can be served with a choice of toppings.
“They go for the fries, the dogs with cheese on them,” Badouin says. “We do a foot-long chili dog that you eat knife-and-fork style. We also have a ‘Doggie Cristo ‘ which is a mock of the famous Monte Cristo sandwich, with a dog. bacon, raspberry jam, Swiss cheese, on a toasted bun. It’s comfort food, and it’s very popular with a lot of regulars.”
In 2001, Researchers at the University of Buffalo in New York analyzed survey data and found that marijuana users between the ages of 20 and 59 had lower blood levels of carotenoids, an important class of antioxidants found in brightly colored fruits and vegetables. The subjects had poor nutrition compared to non-users: They consumed more calories, salty snacks, pork, cheese, beer and soda.
Antioxidants are needed for cellular protection and repair, and play a key role in slowing aging and immune response.
This leads to a question: How can you fight the munchies with food that tastes good and is good for you? It’s easier than you think.
Chef Lisa Books-Williams is a raw, vegan and vegetarian chef who runs the Tri-Valley Vegetarian Society and teaches in the San Francisco area,
“if you’re going to take something into the body to help the body,” Books-Williams asks, “why not take in foods that are going to help you better assimilate and utilize the benefits of the product?”
Books-Williams says that post-smoke foods should be high in nutrition, “because we have another brain in our stomach. A lot of people think they’re hungry when they’re really craving nutrients. The most nutrient-dense food on the planet comes from plant-based foods. A kale salad or something with nuts and beans can satisfy a hunger craving because of the nutrients they provide. If somebody is using the product for medicinal purposes, they want it to be maximum benefit to their body. When they take in ice cream or potato chips or beer, the dairy can produce inflammation in the body, and that inflammation will affect their digestion. The body will spend its time trying to digest and detoxify, instead of utilizing the benefits of the product.
“If you’re going to eat something, eat something that has some nutrients in it.”
For post-smoke food, Books-Williams recommends combining fruit and nuts: “it’s an easy way to make a delicious and satisfying snack. If you don’t have fresh fruit you can use dried fruit. Raisins and almonds, or apples and peanut butter. Or peanut butter and celery. There are other nut butters like almond butter and cashew butter, and you can always use whole-grain bread or whole-grain crackers. When you have a fat, like a nut, it helps you better absorb the nutrients in the plant, like putting avocado in your salad or nuts in your vegetables. The fat is a carrier for the fat-soluble nutrients, and helps you better absorb and assimilate them.”
Another good source of protein is edamame. “Put them in boiling water for a minute or two, then take them out and sprinkle them with halite salt or sea salt,” which have more minerals than commercial salt “and are more easily assimilated by the body.”
For the more adept with a well-stocked pantry, an improvised salad can be made by cutting kale into long strips, squeezing a lemon or an orange over it, throwing in some dried currants or raisins and drizzling with olive oil. “Add some pine nuts and massage it together and you have a delicious, healthy salad.”
Lisa Cohn, a Registered Dietitian who practices at Park Avenue Nutrition in New York, says “The tendency is to eat whatever is in front of us. Healthier options — foods that are freshly grown, and foods with herbs and spices — are not only delicious but they help the system to work properly.”
Cohn points out that proper selection of food will “extend whatever you’re doing, because the same time your body is getting the natural feeling from the herb itself, you’re also supporting your body’s metabolism of it. If your brain is more nourished, you’ll feel better, whether it’s recreation or medicinal. I encourage people to avoid the added sugars and heated fat — griddle-cooked something or fried something — which is very inflammatory to the body, to the cells, to the brain, to the lungs.
“What we want to do is get the benefit of the food, instead of the detriment of the processed product. You’ll feel more comfortable and better energized instead of wiped out.”
Cohn recognizes the drying effect of smoking and suggests combating it with fresh fruit flavors: “I encourage people to use things like salsas, either a mild tomato base or something with pineapple or lime juice. Those flavors keep the tongue feeling happy and are naturally hydrating. Getting cottonmouth and feeling dry is not a pleasant feeling. Celery sticks or cucumber strips with salsa have a nice bite and they’re fat-fee and have no added sugar. You aren’t going to feel bloated as you would with chips or sweets.”
Using natural peppers and spices — like peppers, horseradish, or wasabi — in your food helps clear the lungs and sinuses, Cohn says.
“The heat in those peppers is a natural energizing strategy,” Cohn says. “It makes the mouth water, it gets the sinuses going. We want to keep the nose and sinus system and lungs clear. People get the cough, and that takes its toll.”
If sweet is more to your liking, Cohn suggests melon: cantelope, honeydew, or watermelon are all good. “Really hydrating and fat-free. It’s got some sugar in it, but it’s not as if you were drinking down a sugared iced tea or the flavored beverages that have no nutritional value.”
Berries are hydrating and have anti-oxidants, Cohn says. “Blueberries, blackberries and raspberries, they’re all great. The hydrating part also coats your tongue nicely, and the natural flavorings keep you not only hydrated, but they’re more fun to eat. They feel fun on your tongue and are hydrating as opposed to leaving your mouth sticky and sugary. Your mouth should be left feeling clean, and it’s all about the hydration.
“Fresh berries can be pricey and are not always available, so I recommend people to buy a bag of frozen berries. You can eat them as is, you can make them into a salsa or a smoothie — with almond milk instead of dairy milk, which is congesting — or freeze them in fruit juice.”
Appropriately, Books-Williams and Cohn both recommend adding hemp seeds to a healthy diet. The small seeds can be used in food, like poppy seeds and sesame seeds are.
“The brain is a spongy, fatty tissue, and the neurons that keep the flow of information going are coated with a little blanket called the myelin sheath,” Cohn says. “When that is nice and spongy, the brain is much happier and relaxed. The things that help it are different kinds of fatty acids, and the best source I recommend are raw hemp seed. It’s fantastic in terms of essential fatty acids, omega-3 fats, it’s very high in minerals like zinc and iron. You can eat it as it is, and I encourage people to put it in salads, you can put it into a smoothie, and you can also nosh on it.”
“They’re fantastic,” Books-Williams says. “Sprinkle on your salads, put into smoothies, and I also make them into crackers and snack bars. I love them. Why not stay in the same family and use hemp seeds?”
— By Tod Hunter