We eat a lot of trail mix around here. Usually I try to buy the kinds that are just fruit, nuts and seeds but every now and then a bag with chocolate chips or yogurt chips sneaks by me. In those scenarios, my daughter is ecstatic. So we decided to a make a trail mix snack that utilized this ingredient as a special snack for her. Now I wouldn't make them everyday or anything, but they are a fun way to get your kids to eat more nuts and seeds.
I made these with yogurt chips, although honestly I think that good quality chocolate chips are better for your kids than yogurt chips. There are more additives in yogurt chips, but my daughter always asks for trail mix with yogurt chips so I went that route. But you can use chocolate chips and whatever types of dried fruit, nuts and seeds you have on hand. These are really fun to make with your kiddos, then they can use whatever types and amounts of toppers they like. You just need to make sure that they firmly press them into the melted chips so that they stick.
I hope that your kids like these as much as we did!
Trail mix wafers
Prep time: 5-10 minutes
In a six well silicone muffin pan, or in six foil lined muffin cups, sprinkle in
~1 tablespoon yogurt chips
Into each well (so 6 tablespoons total). Place in a warm oven for a few minutes, so that the chips start to melt, then stir them quickly with a fork to help them fully melt down. Make sure that they cover the entire bottom of the cup. Then sprinkle ~ 1/2 teaspoon of each on top:
Dried currants or raisons
Press these ingredients into the melted chips and then place in the fridge for 15 minutes until set. Then carefully remove them from the muffin cups and serve.
To be perfectly honest this post is purely my daughters creation. When we went grocery shopping for Valentines Day dinner, she was insistent that we get a coconut. She's had them before; they're a component in these great fruit cups they have at Mexican taco shop called Pico do Gallos. I figured that if she's interested in any fresh produce, I'll buy it. It ended up being the best decision I made that day. While I slaved away in the kitchen cooking dinner, she worked right next to me, relentlessly banging the coconut with a meat tenderizer and chatting incessantly about how hard she was working.An hour later there were a few cracks in the shell. The next morning she was back at it and, viola, she cracked it open.
It was a dream having my vivacious four year old occupied for that long and on such a busy day. I let her open the coconut her way that time, although I know a faster way (is that cruel, or crafty parenting?) that is also fun. This week, when she again asked for another one at the grocery store, I figured I would let her in on our little family secret to opening a coconut. This secret was taught to my sisters and me in grade school by our Spanish foreign exchange student. It doesn't involve as much labor and time, but she still enjoyed it.
How to open a coconut
1. With a wine corkscrew, pierce one of the three holes on the top of the coconut, then drain out all of the liquid into a cup. This water is good if your used to it, but your kids might not be interested since it's pretty potent.
2. Wrap the coconut in a plastic bag and tie the end of it to secure it.
3. Take the kids outside to the a concrete or asphalt surface.
4. Granny toss the coconut as high up as you can.
When the coconut hits that hard surface, it will crack open. Sure it's not the most aesthetic process, but my kids thought it was a riot.
Did you know that a coconut is actually a seed? That being such, coconuts have a lot of beneficial vitamins and minerals. Coconuts have Omega-6 fatty acids, monosaturated fats (good fats), lots of manganese, protein, fiber and a some iron, phosphorous and and potassium. They do have a fair amount of fat, but I always think that it's better to give your kids fats in the form of natural foods as opposed to french fries. I hope that your kids enjoy preparing this snack as much as they like eating it, we sure did.
I have never had an issue getting my kids to eat peas. I don't know how universal that is, but if they're fresh, frozen or recently thawed my kids are all over them. I think that it's partially because they can be a finger food early on, they taste sweet and they have such a vibrant color, as long as they're not overcooked. The palatable nature of peas is not surprising since peas aren't vegetables, but instead they are legumes. This kid friendly food group is a group a lot of kids go for, just think about peanuts, edamame, beans.
Like other legumes, peas are bursting with nutrients. Peas have decent amounts of protein, vitamin K, vitamin C, B vitamins, magnesium, phosphorus, manganese, iron, and potassium , and fiber. That's an impressive list, especially considering how tiny these little nutrient factories are.
Another great thing about peas is their accessibility; they are available year round in the frozen food aisle. In fact just 5% of peas produced are sold fresh, the remaining are sold either frozen or canned, the latter of which I would avoid. Just because a food is frozen doesn't mean that it lacks nutrients. In fact frozen fruits and vegetables are quickly frozen at their peak freshness, assuring more vitamins. The longer a vegetable sits, even a fresh one, the more the available nutrients deteriorate, so this quick freezing of fresh produce locks in their comprising vitamins and minerals. Adding frozen vegetables to your freezer is a great, affordable way to start improving your kids diets. It also gets you out of a bind when looking for a dinner side, as I have learned many times.
Here's a recipe that incorporates calcium, which seems to be one of the few nutrients peas don't have, with peas and turkey. You can omit the meat, or substitute whatever meat your have handy for the turkey. Cooked chicken would work equally well, as would ham. I don't usually give my kids a lot of deli meat due to the salt content, but I think a little bit mixed in with other foods is OK. I hope your kids enjoy this salad!
Prep: 5 minutes
1 cup frozen peas, thawed and drained
1/2 cup cheddar cheese, chopped into cubes that are roughly the same size as your peas
1/4 cup chopped turkey
1 tablespoon mayonnaise low-fat or vegan varieties work as well)
Combine the above ingredients in a medium bowl and toss to mix. Serve cold or room temperature.
Here's a great dessert that's also good for your kids. But first I must confess, the recipe is not mine. A friend of mine in on the Paleo Diet
and this is a desert she enjoys since she can't eat grains, sugar and a lot of other typical dessert ingredients. In her version she uses coconut oil, in accordance with a processed food-free diet, but I used butter since I don't have any coconut oil handy and I'm OK with a few processed things in our lives. What makes these treats so great is that they're frozen, giving it a little extra crunch and making them kind of like the bonbons of my childhood, well minus the chocolate. But these have no added sugar and protein to boot, making them like a healthy bonbon on steroids.I always make my snacks with at least one of my kids. My four year old is a much better sous chef than the baby, but she was busy playing superheroes today. That ended up being a fortunate turn of events since these are a little messy to make, particularly in the rolling process which is usually her job, but they are well worth getting your hands covered in almond butter. I made these with the baby hanging on to one of my legs, so hopefully that shows how easy they are to make. And my daughter re-emerged in time to put them in the freezer, then chow down on them an hour later. You can add in lots of other ingredients, like pepita or sunflower seeds, or use a different type of nut butter
or sunflower butter if your kids have nut allergies. Use what you have on hand, you're only limited by your imagination and your cupboard.Coco-Nut BonbonsPrep
: 10 minutesServes
: 51/2 cup cashewsPut the cashews in a plastic bag, then crush them finely with a rolling pin
. Combine the cashews in a bowl with1/2 cup finely chopped dates1/4 cup almond butter1 tablespoon melted butterMix these ingredients together in a bowl then scoop out roughly one teaspoon of mix into your hand. Roll slightly to make a ball, then drop the ball into
a bowl of1/2 cup unsweetened shredded coconutRoll the ball to coat the outside of it with coconut, the drop the ball onto a baking sheet. Repeat 10 or so times, until you've used all the mix. Place the baking sheet
in the freezer and freeze for at least one hour. Then transfer to a freezer bag. Enjoy!
Here's yet another reason to not let your kids drink soda, as if we didn't have enough. Not only does it give them lots of sugar and empty calories, it could also cause cancer. The Center for Science in the Public Interest, one of my personal favorite groups, is asking for a ban on the caramel coloring used to color popular soft drinks.
Note about article below: Article first published as FDA Petitioned to Ban Caramel Coloring in Cola on http://technorati.com/women/article/fda-petitioned-to-ban-caramel-coloring/FDA Petitioned to Ban Caramel Coloring in Cola
The caramel coloring commonly used to color Coca-Cola and Pepsi could cause cancer, according to the Center for Science in the Public Interest WordsInLink
The CSPI filed a petition with the FDA calling for a ban on two froms of caramel coloring, siting two potentially carcinogenic chemcials created in the synthetic production of this common ingredient.
Some forms of caramel coloring is manufactured by reacting sugars with ammonia and sulfites under high pressure and temperature. This process results in two products, 2-methylimidazole (2-MEI)
and 4-methylimidazole (4-MEI)
, which have been linked to cancer in animal studies.
There four types of caramel coloring, two of which are synthesized with ammonia and two that are made without. The ban would only affect with ammonia.
Caramel coloring is not essential for soda's taste or stability, but instead serve a purely asethetic purpose. Alternative colorings, such as natural dyes made via fruit or vegetable dyes, exist that could replace these potentially harmful compounds. Sodas could also be clear, as opposed to dyed brown, to avoid potential carcinogenic exposure.
California has already added 4-MEI to a list of chemicals that are known to cause cancer. Proposition 65 would require that substances that have more than 16 micrograms of 4-MEI would have to bear a cancer warning label. As a comparison, popular soft drinks contain 200 micrograms of 4-MEI.
These two compounds are not potent carcinogens, and even the CSPI asserts that the calories and sugar in these sodas are more detrimental to consumers health in the immediate future.
Representative from Coca-Cola and the beverage industry counter that these studies were done in mice and rodents, and thus may not be applicable to humans. No studies have tied these two compounds to cancer in humans.
In addition, according to the American Beverage Association WordsInLink
2-MEI and 4-MEI are ubiquitous and found in a variety of foods.
Over the years CSPI has been involved in accurate labeling of artificial food dyes, salt, nitrate and sulfite preservatives, partially hydrogenated vegetable oil and Olestra.
Read more: http://technorati.com/women/article/fda-petitioned-to-ban-caramel-coloring/#ixzz1ESnh5o8v
When we were kids we practically lived on canned tuna fish. A toasted tuna fish sandwich with diced onions and cheddar cheese was the ultimate lunch. Unfortunately, that's not such a healthy food for kids these days since tuna is laden with mercury. Sometimes I wonder if I'm a walking thermometer with all the tuna I used to eat. So I've spent some time looking for an alternative, one that won't make your kids sensitive to changes in the weather.
Enter canned salmon. It doesn't have the same mercury content that canned tuna does. Even better, if you purchase the wild caught varieties than you're also going to be adding a lot of omegas to your kids food. I always go for the wild varieties, and I also look for Alaskan caught salmon since it is more sustainable, even though they cost more. These fish are caught when they are en route to spawn. When that occurs, they get that characteristic pink color and they also become very high in Omega-3 fatty acids. If you buy the less expensive farmed types than you aren't getting those omegas and the fish is dyed with artificial coloring so it has that pink hue.
So what are Omega-3 fatty acids? they are fats that your body needs, but cannot make. In order to fill this need you need to get these fats from our diet. They are important for brain function (like memory and performance) and general growth and development. Infants that do not get enough Omegas in utero are at risk for nerve and vision problems. Therefore Omega-3 fatty acids are an important dietary need and a great nutrient to incorporate into your kids diets.
Here's a recipe that uses salmon in a different way- in a white bean hummus. It also has yogurt for the added calcium and cannellini beans for iron, folate, and magnesium. This dip has a lot of protein and works great with either crackers or vegetables, use whatever you have handy.
Salmon white bean hummus
Prep time: 10 minutes
I can wild caught salmon
1 can cannellini beans
1/2 cup plain yogurt (I prefer Greek)
Juice from 1 lemon
Combine the above ingredients in a food processor. Process until smooth. With the processor onThen drizzle in:
1/4 cup olive oil
Until hummus is creamy. Serve with whole wheat crackers or sliced vegetables. Enjoy!
First off, I apologize for the paucity of posts this week. My baby has cut seven teeth in the last five weeks, and needless to say sleep is definitely lacking around here. With that and all the grading that comes around once the semester starts up, I haven't had much time or energy. But that's enough with the excuses, lets talk about a great snack that will get even a sleep-deprived Mama like me moving.My daughter is a cereal fanatic. I blame myself, I lived off the stuff when I was pregnant with her.
I'm not kidding, there were days I chowed down on an entire box of cereal. Ever since she started solids, she's been just as devoted. If I don't put my foot down, she'll eat cereal for breakfast, lunch and dinner. With her inclination for cereal I have to be really picky about what I buy at the store, seeing as most cereals that are marketed towards kids have high fructose corn syrup and artificial dyes. When we go to Natural food Markets, that's relatively easy, but if I have to swing by the regular grocery store or Costco it's a different story. In those scenarios I stick to a few standby's: Kashi, cheerios and shredded wheat. I originally got the Kashi for myself, but she loves the stuff. The baby does too once it's been in my cereal bowl for awhile and is nice and soggy, but that's another story.Here's a recipe that incorporates Kashi GOLEAN Crunch
, almonds and yogurt, resulting in a great, high protein snack. The go lean part of this cereal is because it has more fiber
than traditional Kashi varieties. The almonds add manganese
, vitamin E
, which is quite a mineral list. Finally yogurt gives this snack calcium
for those growing bones. This snack is satisfying, high in protein and will hold your kids over until that next meal. I think that it would make and excellent mid morning snack, but it'll also work day or night. Enjoy!Mini almond kashi tartsPrep time: 10 minutesCook time
: 12 minutesServes: ~6
Pre-heat oven to 325F.Line a muffin baking try with 12 no stick cupcake liners
2 cups Kashi GOLEAN crunch cereal1/2 cup apple sauce (I used unsweetened)1/4 cup wheat flour1.4 cup almondsCombine the above ingredients in a food processor and process until it is crumbly. To make the filling, in a small bowl stir together
:1/2 cup almond butter1/2 cup plain yogurt (I prefer Greek yogurt)To assemble, press ~1 tablespoon crumble mixture into the bottom of the cupcake liner with your fingertips. Then dollop on ~1 tablespoon
of filling. Top with a few more crumbs of the Kashi crumble. Bake for 12 minutes, then remove and cool.
A study is coming out in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health
with results that sound eerily like another nail in the coffin of processed foods. According to Researchers in Canada and the UK, eating processed food early in life results in lower IQ scores years later. So not only do foods high in sugar and fat hurt your kids waistlines, they also could be to the detriment of their brains.That sounds pretty eye opening, and I'm obviously not a proponent on processed food. But you can't just blindly believe every study that comes out, even if the results sound like something you could really go for.
Unfortunately, I think that this study is one of those studies you have to take with a grain of salt (or a few hundred if it's coming from a processed food).Because I'm a scientist by training, lets start with a basic synopsis of the study before I step onto my soapbox:-Approximately 4,000 children were evaluated
-Data was collected by surveys- parents were asked to record how much processed food their kids consumed
-When kids reached the age of eight, IQ tests were done
-Children that ate more processed foods when they were three scored 1.2 points lower than counterparts that ate healthier foods. This finding did not occur for kids that ate more processed foods at four, five, six and so forth.So why am I, a steadfast believer in natural foods, skeptical of these results?
First off, 4,000 is a lot of kids. When you have that large of a sample size, you're almost guaranteed to find something that is significant, like this 1.2 point decrease in IQ scores that only occurred when kids ate poor diets at the age of three. But 1.2 points at one time point is not robust by any means, such a small amount does not even have any clinical relevance. If processed foods were really impeding brain development, that decrease should be more dramatic, particularly with so many kids evaluated. Second, this study was conducted by survey means, which are always suspect to some questioning. There's just so much chance for error, albeit purposeful or just innocent mistakes. Perhaps parents aren't positive how good, or poor, their kids diets are and they are either being really positive or more negative.Finally, what about other factors in these kids lives aside from processed food?. What about parenting styles, shared family meals, stability in the home... the list goes on.
All of these outside influences could affect mental development, and cannot be controlled in such a large study.I think that kids deserve to eat foods that are good for their bodies. And I want to believe that
nutritious food help them develop cognitively in addition to physically. But I cannot just jump onto a bandwagon because the findings support my beliefs. My bottom line is simply this- read the fine print when it comes to your kids, then do what you feel is best for them. If there's any question about that fine print, your gut will know.
So this post combines two different subjects- my daughter's favorite past-time and a new featured quick snack. So I guess I'll begin with the bike, in all of its purple and pink glory.My little girl loves to ride her bike. With the training wheels on she really covers some ground. She's not the fastest, but she consistently rides the 3 mile loop at the nearby park.
There's just one problem: by mile 2 and a quarter she starts to run out of steam. I guess that happens when you're thirty pounds and expend a ridiculous amount of calories daily. So I've learned to pack her a snack mix for when she runs out of fuel. Something with lots of carbohydrates for quick energy, followed by protein for holding her over.Enter my featured quick snack: Somersaults. OK, so I know that's a verb but it's also the name of a tasty, sunflower seed-based cracker (or nugget as they prefer to call them) that I found at Sunflower Market the other day. Pretty much anytime I see something that says snack and looks healthy, I jump on it. These crackers are nut-free, for those with nut allergies, but still have lots of protein. They also have fiber, iron, and a smidgen of calcium. On first bite, I'll admit, they're a little different. But there's something about them that hooks you. I'm not sure if it's the heartiness of the bite or the perfect amount of salt, but regardless they're borderline addicting.So here's a snack that I put together to fill up my daughter's fuel tank that also uses these fun little nuggets. I only recently stumbled upon these fun snacks, so if you can't find them at your store you can try using another, more common seed-based cracker, like sesame crackers.
If you've read this blog before then you know that we eat a lot of different types of nuts around here, but of you're looking for a nut-free snack (seeing as somersaults are nut-free) then substitute the walnuts for a whole grain cereal, like cheerios, and add 1/2 cup. Either way, you'll still have a great crunchy snack mix.Nana's Bike MixPrep time: two minutes, if you're going super slowServes
: 2-4 kids
1/3 sup Somersault crackers1/4 cup whole walnuts1/3 cup pretzelsPour all the above ingredients into a snack container. Shake to mix, then take with you and the kids out for some exercise. Enjoy!
Around here, we love mangoes. They taste tangy and sweet, they're full of vitamin A, E, iron and phenols (which are powerful antioxidants) and they make for fun little fruit cups. I love the idea that this fruit has iron, sometimes we get to bogged down with the idea that iron is only in leafy greens (which are admittedly hard to get kids to eat) and beef. They're also soft so that even the baby, with his meager four chompers, can chew them up. Interestingly, they're also high calorie compared to other fruits (which isn't that high calorie in comparison to other types of foods) so they're a great, healthy way to give your kids some extra calories to support their active bodies.
With all that being said, when I saw a box full of ripe mangoes yesterday I immediately bought it. But now I have 8 mangoes for the kids this week, so here's a recipe to vary it up. It includes plain Greek yogurt, walnuts and a touch of honey (of course you can omit this for children under a year) so not only do you have the vitamin power of mangoes but you also have calcium and a little protein. You can always use regular yogurt, but Greek yogurt makes the sauce creamier so it stands up better. I was going to leave the recipe at that, but my little girl, with her consummate need to dip, added the final touch to this recipe. Since she's my resident expert, her modifications are always seen as an improvement to the original. I hope that your kids agree.
Mango dipping cups
Prep time: 5 minutes
Cut mango off of each side of the pit. The pit takes up the entire middle of the mango, so you need to cut off either side of the mango around this pit. Then score the mango pieces with a sharp pairing knife into 1/2" cubes. Do not cut through the actual skin beneath, just cut the fruit. Using a fork, then mash these cubes into a pulp. To this "cup" add
1/4 cup plain Greek yogurt
1 tablespoon walnut pieces
Mix these ingredients with you mango pulp. Then drizzle:
1 teaspoon honey
To the top of the sauce. Then partially submerge:
8-10 pretzels or whole wheat crackers
Into the cup, so that your kids can simply pull out a sauce-coated pretzel/cracker. Enjoy!