Writing Snacks with Jennifer Willis

Jennifer Willis is one of my best friends; she’s also a terrific writer who helped beta-read An Oath of Dogs. Jennifer knows how much I love to snack while I’m writing, so she gave me a few recipes. They were so great I wanted to make sure to share them with everyone!

Like me, Jennifer’s got a new book out. Hers is the spicy, funny science fiction romance Mars Ho!, which  combines reality tv shenanigans with a lot of in-depth research on what it takes to send people to Mars. It’s my recommended beach reading!


I have a tendency to snack when I’m writing — especially if I’m not doing a timed writing session, like a pomodoro — and my snacking habits over the years haven’t always been the healthiest. I’m looking at you, Goldfish crackers. Also, not all of my favorite snack foods are appropriate for writing productivity. In case you’re wondering, salsa and keyboards do not play nicely together.

So I’ve gotten a little creative in the kitchen to satisfy my snacking urge while also keeping myself fit and focused. Note that Wendy Wagner’s roasted garbanzo beans have been an important mainstay of our writing sessions, and you should absolutely give those a try, too.

The first of the goodies I’ll share here is a blueberry kale smoothie. Don’t look at me like that! Kale and blueberries absolutely go together. My sister surprised me with a Nutri Ninja last December and the blueberry-kale concoction has been one of my more successful experiments. A regular blender would also work, so you don’t need fancy equipment.

Ingredients*:
(* I’ll go ahead and admit that when I’m cooking, I rarely measure anything.)
Frozen blueberries: about 2 cups
Kale: 1 leaf (minus the stem)
Water: about 1 cup
Agave/honey: to taste

Note: you can use fruit juice instead of water, and then skip the sweetener. Cocoa powder also makes for a yummy addition.

Blend this all together. Drink it. Easy.

The second snack secret I’ll share is one that became quite popular with my Call of Cthulhu RPG group. It’s homemade kettle corn. This one probably falls in the “not as bad as real junk food” category and is also my go-to during football season. I use a pretty beat-up Stir Crazy to make mine, but I’ve also had success using an old pot for popping.

Ingredients:
(Again, sorry I’m bad with measurements. Use your best judgment)
Coconut oil: about 1 tablespoon
Popcorn kernels: six handfuls (I prefer white popcorn to yellow, but either will work)
Sugar: a bit less than half a tablespoon (use however much you think you’d like)
Salt: to taste.

Heat the oil in the Stir Crazy or pot. Combine the un-popped kernels with the sugar in a separate container. I sometimes add a little curry, cayenne, and/or paprika to the mix. Once the oil has melted, add the kernels and sugar simultaneously and make sure everything gets spread out. Wait for everything to pop; if you’re using a pot, shake it occasionally to ensure even heating and prevent burning while the corn is popping. As the popping frenzy slows down, remove from heat, transfer your kettle corn to a serving bowl, and add salt to taste.

If you have leftovers, you can enjoy the kettle corn for another day or two past “popping day.” Just zap it in the microwave for about fifteen seconds first.

An admitted sci-fi nerd and urban fantasy fan, Jennifer Willis is the author of the Valhalla urban fantasy series and the MARS science fiction romance series. When she’s not hiking, knitting, baking, star-gazing, or reading like a fiend, she spends her time bringing enchantment to the world. She is also the writer behind the Northwest Love Stories feature in The Oregonian and has a byline in the BASF award-winning Women Destroy Science Fiction! from Lightspeed.