Stick a Stick in It, Foodies

As the era of the $5 cupcake wanes, foodies at home and in restaurants are rethinking the stick.

Food on a stick has a bad reputation, but it’s not the stick’s fault.

The usual suspects – cotton candy, lollipops, caramel apples and just about anything that comes from a cart on a fairground’s midway (deep-fried Twinkies, anyone?) – automatically come to mind. And let’s not even discuss those big-as-your-cranium turkey legs people enrobed in copious amounts of velvet are gnawing on at Renaissance Festivals around the country.

While cake pops are probably the trendiest example, thanks to Starbucks and Bakerella’s blog, they’re far from the only edible stick deal in town. Creative cooks are spearing everything from cinnamon rolls to pancakes and soup. Here are three reasons why.

1. It’s just another way to encourage people to cook at home. As a result, the finished product is relatively free of many of the chemicals, dyes and preservatives that you would find in the same food on a store shelf. Homemade Pop-Tarts on a stick still aren’t green beans, but it’s certainly a step up from the ones you buy in a box.

2. This trend’s obvious gimmickry is also its genius. Salad in a bowl? Boring. But find a way to put it on a stick and suddenly, it’s intriguing. Anyone who has struggled to get a kid to eat vegetables knows that novelty is the name of the game when it comes to picky palates. And who wouldn’t want to impress party guests or their kids with their ability to spear something you’d normally eat out of a bowl or off a plate?

3. Food on a stick is 100 percent customizable, even at the last minute. That’s a good thing when you’ve got a mix of party guests showing up at your door with a host of dietary concerns and restrictions.

Spare the rod, and spoil the fun. Below are five ways unusual ways to get your health on…with a stick attached.

Way more appetizing than a bunch of soggy leaves in a bowl, this recipe from Food Network Magazine allows eaters to have better control over how much dressing they use. Just dip (or not) and eat. For something slightly more fancy, Liz’s Kitchen blog offers up a recipe for strawberry and spinach salad on a stick.

Leave it to Martha Stewart to figure out a way to put the gloopiest breakfast food known to man on a wooden stick, right from the container. For a healthy version, use a low-fat Greek yogurt, some pureed fresh fruit and a swirl of honey or agave nectar for a little extra sweetness.

Squint hard, and you might actually mistake these creations for one of those giant, last-all-day lollipops they sell at Disneyworld. Chef Morimoto would probably blanch at these bastardizations of his country’s signature food, but since he likely won’t be attending your next party, it’s probably ok. Just don’t bring your popsicle sticks to Nobu.

Known as a stickwich, these babies allow eaters to utilize ingredients that would otherwise roll right out of two slices of bread – cherry tomatoes, tofu, lettuce and cubes of cheese. Bonus: Since a stickwich uses less bread than a typical sandwich, you can consume fewer carbs and more vegetables. That’s assuming, of course, that you don’t spear a pound of bacon or a loaf of Tillamook.

This one is a slightly more exotic step up than the standard-issue bell pepper-mushroom-tomato combo that your mom used to make for backyard barbecues. Authentic Jambalaya includes seafood, sausage and chicken, but it’s easy enough to leave those ingredients off or offer an alternative to those who want to abstain. Can I get a Kumbaya?

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