Keeping your kids energized and focused is no small feat, and with all the snack foods threatening to tempt your child into sugar and sodium overload, it’s not always easy to make healthy choices. Whether they are off to school or coming home with a heavy load of work on their backs, they need healthy grab-and-go options for snacking. Here are some healthy options your kids will be happy to snack on.
Frozen grapes and juices. All kids love a frozen treat, and frozen grapes make a great bite-sized treat. Freezing low-sugar fruit juices can be a great alternative to artificial sugary ice pops.
Trail mix. Make your own trail mixes at home with your kids’ favorites. Mix cereal, whole-wheat pretzels, raisins, Craisins, nuts, and seeds. Add in some chocolate chips and they’ll view it as a real treat.
Fruit on a stick. Skewer mixed fruits to make a fruit salad on a stick, dip strawberries into dark chocolate, or make banana pops coated in peanut butter and dipped in granola or chopped nuts. Kids love snacks that are fun to eat, so they won’t even notice it’s healthy.
Homemade gourmet popcorn. Popcorn is one of the healthiest snack foods, and adding some new flavors is easy. Choose your favorite microwave popcorn and cook according to package directions. Spray hot popcorn with nonstick spray or butter-flavored nonstick spray and season with any flavor you like: taco seasoning, za’atar, a mixture of brown sugar and chili powder, Parmesan cheese, or any spices you like.
Parfaits. Prepare a real treat for your little ones by layering low-fat chocolate pudding or yogurt with fresh berries and whipped cream or granola. They’ll love the layered snack and it will tide them over till dinnertime.
Baked fries. French fries are a universally popular snack, but they don’t have to actually be fried. They also are not limited to the potato. Make “fries” by slicing carrots, sweet potatoes, or zucchini into matchstick pieces. Toss with olive oil and salt, and roast till caramelized.
Homemade cakes and cookies. Going for homemade snacks instead of store-bought processed foods is always better. You can control exactly how much sugar and fat goes in and know exactly what you are giving your kids. Choose whole-wheat flour and healthier oils, or substitute apple sauce for some of the fat. You can also sneak in some healthier ingredients like grated carrots and zucchini, or mashed bananas or avocado, for added moisture and flavor. v
Sticky Date Bars
1Â½ cups water
1Â½ cups pitted dates, chopped
1 tsp. vanilla
1 cup all-purpose flour
Â½ cup whole-wheat pastry flour
1 cup packed dark brown sugar
1 cup old-fashioned oats
1Â½ tsp. ground cinnamon
Â½ tsp. baking soda
Â½ tsp. salt
1Â½ sticks unsalted butter or butter substitute
Preheat oven to 350Â°F. Grease a square 8” Ã— 8” metal baking pan. Place water in medium saucepan and bring to a simmer. Add dates and simmer until soft and thick, about 10 minutes. Let cool to room temperature, then add vanilla.
In a large bowl, combine flours, sugar, oats, cinnamon, baking soda, and salt. Dice butter and add to flour mixture. Incorporate butter, using fingers to form moist clumps. Press half of the mixture into bottom of baking pan, spread date mixture on top, and sprinkle with remaining flour mixture, pressing down slightly.
Bake for about 40 minutes until golden brown and cooked through. Let cool, then cut into squares.
Want to learn how to cook delicious gourmet meals right in your own kitchen? Take one-on-one cooking lessons or give a gift to an aspiring cook that you know. For more information, contact Take Home Chef personal chef services by calling 516-508-3663, writing to elke@TakeHomeChef.net, or visiting www.TakeHomeChef.net.