Snack Report: Gamer Vacation Edition

mass effect andromeda snacks

Video game vacations are my favorite. Going to work is torture when you’ve just started a new game and you’re busy collecting some random thing. I can’t stop collecting the random thing! If I get 5 more I can build another random thing that I NEED! All those hours not playing? *shudder* At work you can of course read articles about the game you’re not playing, or message your friend about your game separation pains. None of it will help because you’ve been rudely pulled from your full gaming experience to adult. Taking a game vacation is really the best thing for you!

I’m obsessing slightly about my upcoming game-cation. Mass Effect Andromeda looks just as huge and detailed as the last game. I’m one of those crazy gamers who loves doing anything that isn’t the actual main plot. SIDE MISSIONS! RANDOMNESS! Searching for weird cool things under random rocks on a random planet because you never know!

In my obsessing I’m realizing, there are other adult things that may try to intrude on my gaming. Making food happen, getting enough caffeine for if stopping to sleep is too hard, and dessert of course. I mean poor food planning could lead me to have to put on pants and go to the store in the middle of talking to every NPC in a place. You can’t just stop mid-place with only half the NPCs talked to! That would be insane. YOU MIGHT MISS A SIDE MISSION!

I’ve finalized my snack list. These are foods that once prepared are easy to re-heat, or that could be eaten cold. They’re also easy to graze on while still gaming. Stopping for a meal is just more adulting, don’t fall for adulting!

Official Snack List of my ME: Andromeda Game-cation:

Pizza. Pizza pizza pizza. Pizza is a gamer go-to! You can eat it hot or cold. It is ready for when you realize that mission you’d thought would take no time, dumped you right into another action scene, and now that you’ve killed all the things you need FOOD! I’m going to cook the day before vacation, so I can have FANCY pizza, but delivery works too. I’m addicted to this pizza from The Pioneer Woman, though. Caramelized onions, prosciutto, lot of cheese! Mmmm…This pizza will hopefully see me through several days of random meals. Other good replacements are pizza rolls, or even making your pizza on naan bread, french bread, or english muffins to save yourself from dealing with pizza dough.

Smitten Kitchen Buckeyes!

Photo by Deb Perelman/SmittenKitchen.com

Dessert. This is a gaming vacation so dessert is essential. Not every meal should be as adult as pizza. I fully plan to eat dessert instead of a meal at least once a day, probably with a soda. Sugar-caffeine is how gamers survive long missions.  I love peanut butter and chocolate! My Kentucky relatives always used to make buckeyes when I was a kid. If you haven’t had these they are sugary peanut butter balls dipped in chocolate. Smitten Kitchen has a great recipe for Buckeyes that I love. If buckeyes don’t seem like the dessert for you, Smitten Kitchen is a go-to site for desserts. She’s a very dedicated dessert tester. If she says a recipe is the best, she’s done the science. She knows! I should really move in next door to see if she gives samples to her neighbors. If baking is too complicated, find a local bakery!

Caffeine. It could be you don’t need this. Happiness and game excitement might carry you through nonstop playing! You may also get stuck in a weird place in the game and need some extra energy. Better be safe and stock up.

Dip. What is even the purpose of a couch vacation if you aren’t gonna eat a fancy dip while talking to alien NPCs about if you can get their credit chit back from some other NPC that wants you to do something else? NPCs are so needy. You need dip for in between your pizza and dessert meals! You know what though, you probably should have some more protein. Buffalo Chicken Dip! It is like eating cheesy wing dip! Frank’s hot sauce has my favorite recipe for this. It is great with corn chips. I use cheddar cheese, not blue cheese. I also like it hotter, so I do about 3/4 c. hot sauce. But you might want to taste it before listening to a crazy person and adding more.

snack-report-meatsandcheeses

Olives and Cheeeeeeese. This is the easiest snack. It requires taking it out of the fridge and maybe putting it on a plate before stuffing it in your mouth. It is perfect for game-grazing! I usually get an aged gouda, a port salut or soft goat cheese, an english cheddar that smells super earthy, and a stinky blue cheese (drizzle some honey on that.) Yum. Olives need to be pitted for safety!

For olives treat yourself and go find a grocery with an olive bar. Then you can get a variety! Genoa salami, crackers, apples, pears, pickled veggies, candied pecans…these can only improve your olive and cheese experience. Fresh herbs too. A little fresh thyme on a soft goat cheese is magic.

Bacon Sandwiches. Alright, my no cooking plan was for anything but bacon. Bacon is nice. You’ll also need some breaks eventually. Why not use your break to cook some bacon! I love a bacon, avocado, tomato sandwich on toasted bread with a bit of lime juice and mayo. Now this is messy food. It may be tough to eat without getting the controller messy, so this is probably a chance for you to eat while looking online at all the silly things everyone else is doing in game. Reddit is my usual go-to for this, but right now they’re complaining about faces and character creation? It’ll be better in a week when there are silly game videos and screen caps!

EXTRA SNACKS. As much as you plan, you don’t know what you’ll be craving. Best to have some back-up favorites around. In fact, I’ve got fruit and veggies since I suspect a few days of eating the above, I may start craving lighter things. Of course, if I want more fatty sugary things, then peanut m&ms or reese’s pieces are wonderful. Chocolate truffles. Cookies. COOKIE DOUGH. Popcorn. All of these can round out your vacation diet.

Finally, you should probably also buy the game, get the updates installed if you can, do some gamer stretches, make sure you have enough clean pajamas, and warn your family and friends that you may go silent for a while.

Snack Report: Popcorn

 

Alien-eats-popcorn_2

Sometimes making popcorn in my fancy popcorn maker is a pain, and cleaning that thing when I’m finished is even more of a pain. And if you’re lactose intolerant or allergic to milk like I am, microwave popcorn is not a thing you can really do — plus let’s be real: getting that bag of corn to not burn is an art, not a science, and who has time for art when they’re seriously craving popcorn? So for our inaugural Snack Report, we’ve got an awesome list of pre-popped bagged popcorn varieties that you should be able to find at most decent U.S. grocery stores. We’ve divided them up into Salty, Savory, Spicy, Sweet and Simple categories — to make your cravings easier to manage.

Salty

Buddha Bowl Himalayan PinkLesser Evil Buddha Bowl Himalayan Pink: I know. It sounds like some type of street drug. But really it’s just delightful, perfectly salted popcorn popped in coconut oil. This brand is popping up in more and more grocery stores and I highly recommend it. Plus look at the Buddha’s face.

Boom Chicka Pop Sea Salt: A few years ago, Boom Chicka Pop was doing more fun flavors, like wasabi kettle corn. Apparently those were not big sellers and they have gone back to mostly basics. Which is fine – it’s good popcorn, and the salt on this one isn’t too heavy. A worthy choice if you want something salty.

Popcorn Indiana Sea Salt: This sea salt is good if you like a bit of a heavier hand with the salt. And the popcorn itself is nice and fluffy.

 

Savory

vegan-cuts-april-2015-snack-box-spoiler-pop-art-thai-coconut-curry Pop Art Thai Coconut Curry: A lovely person brought this to my Oscars party last year and I’ve been addicted to it ever since. The coconut isn’t overpowering and the curry is a sweet curry, not very spicy at all (it IS a tiny bit spicy, though, so if you are sensitive to spice, I don’t recommend it for you). If you’re ever feeling lazy enough to just eat popcorn for dinner, this is a good go-to flavor for that. Not that I know from experience or anything.

Pop Art Rosemary Truffle: Immediately following said Oscars party, I sent my husband to the store in search of the Coconut Curry flavor and he also came back with a bag of Pop Art’s Rosemary Truffle flavor, knowing how much I love both rosemary and truffle oil. This is like the artisan meal of popcorn flavors, with enough rosemary flavoring that the truffle oil isn’t overwhelming. Also a worthy choice if ever you need popcorn for dinner. Again, not that I know things about that.

479 Degrees White Cheddar and Black Truffle: My husband’s go to flavor. He’s matured a lot since we met because he now prefers a bag of this popcorn to a bag of Cheetos while watching endless hours of football on a fall day. Just enough cheesy goodness to be a worthy substitute for the Cheetos of yore, and a telltale hint of truffle oil savoriness. Which is totally not a word but I bet I’m going to use it again before this is over.

Popcorn Indiana Aged White Cheddar: Carolyn’s go to flavor, this variety is just the right amount of savory and salty. And again with the big fluffy popcorn! Obviously the corn in Indiana is magic corn.

479 Degrees Toasted Sesame & Seaweed: Sounds weird, right? This is my husband’s favorite non-cheesy popcorn. If you like snacks with Asian flavors, this is a good one for you. I find the seaweed overwhelming, but a lot of people love it.

 

Spicy

 91Kx09DGW3L._SY679SX411_SY679_CR,0,0,411,679_PIbundle-6,TopRight,0,0_SX411_SY679_CR,0,0,411,679_SH20_Kettle Brand Sriracha Popcorn: Out of all the popcorn on this list, this one is my favorite. Big fluffy popped corn combined with just the right amount of sriracha seasoning makes for a yummy spicy treat. I know people who dip popcorn into actual sriracha sauce – do yourself a favor, skip all that sogginess and give this a try.

Lesser Evil Buddha Bowl Bonsai Wasabi Style: It’s just yummy, you guys. I don’t even know what else to say about it. Slightly salty with a really nice wasabi kick and popped in coconut oil, it’s not even a tiny bit boring. I’d serve it at a party.

Pop Art White Cheddar & Jalapeno: This is my teenage son’s go to for a cheesy spicy snack when he’s trying to “keep it healthy” and not eat those super gross cone-shaped Doritos things that all the teenagers eat these days. This one is pretty spicy but not in a painful way.

Rocky Mountain Popcorn Jalapeno: A less expensive option for some popcorn and spice. Nothing fancy here – just good popcorn, salt, and jalapeno seasoning.

 

Sweet

Popcorn Indiana Drizzled Black & White Kettlecorn

Popcorn Indiana Drizzled Black & White Kettlecorn

Popcorn Indiana Black & White Drizzlecorn: It’s kettle corn with dark and white chocolate drizzled over it. How can you go wrong? What’s extra nice about Popcorn Indiana’s version is that the drizzle is not too heavy-handed. No one wants to deal with a giant mess all over their hands from melted chocolate. Well – in theory, no one wants that.

Popcornopolis Cinnamon Bun: This is the popcorn company that sells their popcorn in the fun little cellophane cones so you feel like you got it at a carnival even though it really came from Safeway. I first tried this after getting a similar flavor in a gift basket from one of those super fancy popcorn companies. This is a more than worthy substitute. Cinnamon and popcorn belong together. I don’t know why I didn’t think of it years ago.

Popcorn Indiana Kettlecorn: It’s perfect kettle corn. What?

Rocky Mountain Popcorn Caramel Corn: Just a nice simple caramel corn with no bells or whistles. Inexpensive and comes in a small bag so you don’t feel too bad about eating it all in one sitting. I’ve heard.

479 Degrees Toasted Coconut & Caramel Corn: Fancy, delicious caramel corn with a coconut twist. I would serve this at parties to impress people with my great taste in snacks.

Crunch & Munch Buttery Toffee: Let’s be honest. Sometimes you just want to keep it real and eat some damn junk food. Some of these popcorn options are too healthy, even when they’re trying to be all buttery and cheesy and whatnot. Most of them are way too fancy. Not Crunch & Munch. Crunch & Munch is basically the redneck cousin of all the other popcorn on this list. And it is amazing. Crunch & Munch will be delightful in your mouth and you’ll eat way too much and it’ll make you hate yourself in the morning. And I bet it’s totally made with GMO corn.

 

Simple

 skinnypop.comSkinny Pop Original: I know, right? It sounds totally boring. It’s not. Buy the ginormous Costco-sized bag and keep it around for day to day snacking needs. The popcorn is nice and fluffy, and there is just the tiniest hint of salt.

Earth Balance Vegan Buttery Flavor: Earth Balance seems to be the only company on the planet doing a really good job with vegan butters, meaning they make fake butter that actually tastes like butter. Not to be confused with margarine, which is gross. This popcorn is a nice simple butter-flavored treat. Another one to keep around for day-to-day snacking.

Popcorn Indiana Original Movie Theatre: This one sort of sums up the entire point behind buying pre-popped bagged popcorn. It tastes like the stuff you used to get in movie theatres back when they still used real butter. Excellent for movie-and-couch night.

 

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