Make Your Own Pretzels (It's Easier Than You Think!)

Pretzels are everywhere: the grocery aisle, the sandwich counter, the mall, the airplane and just about every vending machine on the planet. They’re even on restaurant menus in the form of soft baked breads. While the idea of snacking on a bag of pretzels, or opting for a sandwich on a pretzel roll may sound “healthy,” it’s just not.

An average 1-ounce serving (15 to 20 pieces) of bagged pretzel twists come with 110 calories, 1 gram of fat, and 450 milligrams of sodium. Thin pretzel chips and crackers are really no different and no matter what form you choose for munching, most are sweetened with corn syrup and other similar highly processed added sweeteners. Whole grain versions will have a slight increase in the nutrient department, but it doesn’t amount to more than 1 gram of fiber per serving.

Soft pretzels generally tend to be lower in sodium when compared to hard versions but they tip the scales at nearly 200 calories each. And let’s not forget those stands at the mall where an average pretzel with butter and salt adds up to around 400 calories, 5 grams of fat, and nearly 1,000 milligrams of sodium (more than 40 percent of the daily allotment).

The solution? Make your own pretzels! It’s easier than you might think, and it’s just as simple to make them a little more nutritious by turning up the whole grains as we have done here. Making them bite-sized gives you a chance for seconds (and thirds!).

Whole Wheat Pretzel Bites

Makes 12 servings

Ingredients:

1 cup warm water

1 packet active dry yeast (1/4 ounce)

1 teaspoon honey

1 cup all purpose flour

1 cup whole wheat pastry flour

1 teaspoon kosher salt

1 tablespoon butter, melted

3 tablespoons baking soda

2 teaspoons pretzel salt or course sea salt

Directions:

In a bowl or measuring cup, combine water, yeast and honey. Whisk well and allow to sit for 15 minutes for yeast to activate.

In a bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a dough hook, combine flours and salt. Add yeast mixture and mix on low speed until combined. Add butter and continue to mix on medium. If mixture appears to wet, add alternating tablespoons of all-purpose and whole wheat flour until dough comes together in a ball (dough will be soft and slightly sticky). Transfer dough to an oiled bowl, cover with a clean dish towel and allow to rise for 1 hour.

Preheat oven to 450 degrees and line a baking sheet with Silpat or other baking mat* Bring a large pot of water (about 2 quarts) to a boil, once boiling add baking soda.

Turn out dough on a lightly floured surface. Divide into 6, equal sized pieces, roll out each piece, stretching gently to form a long, skinny piece 12-inches in length. Using a paring knife of bench scraper, cut 12 pieces.

Transfer 12 pieces to boiling water and cook for 1 minute, until slightly puffed. Remove from water with a slotted spoon, drain excess water and transfer to baking sheet. Sprinkle each piece with salt. Repeat with another piece of dough.

Once 24 pieces have been boiled and salted, bake for 10 minutes or until golden brown. Repeat steps with remaining dough.

Nutrition Info Per Serving (6 pieces): Calories: 83; Total Fat: 1 gram; Saturated Fat: 1 gram; Total Carbohydrate: 15 grams; Sugars: 1 gram; Protein: 2 grams; Sodium: 198 milligrams; Cholesterol: 3 milligrams; Fiber: 2 grams

*You can also coat a baking sheet with nonstick cooking spray. Do not use parchment paper, the pretzels will stick!

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Dana Angelo White, MS, RD, ATC, is a registered dietitian, certified athletic trainer and owner of Dana White Nutrition, Inc., which specializes in culinary and sports nutrition.

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