Right now we're vacationing in Central California and the Farmer's Markets here are exceptional. Ripe juicy peaches, fresh sweet strawberries and rainbow colored Swiss chard abound. It makes our little markets in Tucson, which have a little sprinkling of produce interspersed between artisanal chilis, look pretty wimpy. Since we're on vacation I haven't had time to put together much in the way of snacks, but the fresh produce from the farmer's markets have infused our kids bellies with tons of great nutrients. If I get a chance I cut up some of the berries and nectarines, but usually they just dig in to the whole fruit. One of the first things we did when we got here was set out a gigantic fruit bowl so that tiny hand could reach in and get their fill. Easy access makes fruits more likely to get eaten. Have you made it to your local farmers market? Or do you need a little help finding one close by? Here's a few sites that make finding a close market easy:Local Harvest: This site not only locates farmers markets in your area, it also locates farms, co-ops
, CSA's and wholesale suppliers. It even has ratings if you need a little help making up your mind.USDA farmers market search: The USDA keeps track of
farmers markets and they have a search engine where you can input your zip code, then choose how far out you are willing to travel. Up pops a list of all registered farmers markets, along with a link to their website if applicable.Eating Well Guide: This website will automatically generate a list of local bakers, CSA's co-ops, farms, farmers markets, etc
. after you input your zip code or city. It's really nicely organized and laid out so it's easy to work your way through.Real time farms: This is a website where you input your zip code and then can hone in on markets in your area. The markets are presented in a calendar format, which makes it easy
to plan your week around.So the next time your in a snacking clump, check our a farmers market, for fresh, local, natural inspiration. Not only will your benefit from it with great food, your community will too. Enjoy!
A while back I posted the "dirty dozen
", a list of produce items that have lots of pesticides. So unless you want your family consuming a concoction of chemicals, you better off buying organic on those fruits and vegetables. In line with that I also wanted to post the "clean 15", produce items that have low levels of pesticide residues. Those low levels mean that you don't need to go organic on these items if pesticides are your main concern. And that can save you a lot of money since organic can be so much more costly that regular produce. This list was complied by the Environmental Working Group, which consists of scientists, policy makers and researchers. Now I can't help but notice that number 1 and 15 are pretty close to the same thing, but I was pretty excited by how many foods we normally eat that are on this list. So if you have a tight budget, check this out and save yourself a little cash the next time you're at the market.The Clean 151. onions2. avocados3. sweet corn4. pineapples5. mango6. sweet peas7. asparagus8. kiwi fruit9. cabbage10. eggplant11. cantaloupe12. watermelon13. grapefruit14. sweet potatoes15. sweet onions
Nothing says summer like a sweet, juicy watermelon.
So we bought a watermelon this week and have been slowly working our way though it. You've got to love watermelon, full of vitamin C, A, B, potassium and magnesium
. The only hitch is that they are humongous and despite lots of melon balling we still have half a melon left. So I've been thinking about some watermelon snack ideas. Here's taking the refreshing taste of watermelon and upping the ante.
I still have some lemonade from my cooler popsicles
, so I decided to make some watermelon lemonade. It's pretty tasty stuff, I hope that your family enjoys it. Cheers!Watermelon lemonadeTotal time: 5 minutesServes: 21 cup lemonade (I used Trader Joe's organic lemonade)1 cup watermelon cubesice cubesmint leaves for garnish (optional)Combine the watermelon and lemonade and blend until the melon is liquified. Serve with ice cubes and mint leaf garnish.
Nothing says summer like fresh fruit, lemonade and popsicles. Here's a great way to combine into one incredibly refreshing and healthy treat- cooler popsicles.
We make our own popsicles a lot so I have popsicle molds. However you can also use small glasses if you don't have molds. Also if you don't have popsicle sticks you can also use pretzel rods. You can also vary the fruit, although I like these ones because they freeze without getting to hard for tiny teeth and really work well with the lemonade
Before giving you the recipe I must confess, I can't take credit for this snack. This recipe is actually my husband's creation. I like this one better than the bacon pancake he tried to sell me on a few weeks ago Thanks for the great idea!
Prep time: a couple of minutes
Freeze time: several hours, preferable overnight
Lemonade (I used organic)
1 kiwi, peeled and sliced
Half of one mango, peeled and sliced into think strips
Fill your popsicle molds or glasses 2/3 full with lemonade. Carefully drop in the cut up fruit. If necessary, top off with more lemonade then add your mold top or popsicle sticks and place in the freezer overnight. If you are using glasses, you might want to let the juice/fruit mix set in the freezer for a little while before adding the sticks. Before serving let them sit on the counter for a few minutes so they slip our of the molds or glasses. Enjoy!
At my kids daycare they've been highlighting themes for each week over the summer. This week... under the sea, So that got me thinking of a snack that fit their school submersible activities.
That being said, here's a simple way to spruce up a snack- wrap it in an incredibly nutritious paper. Edible seaweed that is most commonly available around here is sometimes called nori (which is used to wrap sushi). It is known for having iodine, vitamins A, B, C, E and K, sodium, potassium, magnesium, copper, zinc and protein. I found a pack of roasted seaweed at Trader Joe's, but you can also find it at Asian markets or world markets.
So I decided to pair it with something else that is readily available round here- pretzels. I actually found whole grain pretzels but you can use any type as long as they have a thicker circumference. That means pretzel rods will work better than pretzel sticks, so just make sure you can track those down.
If your kids like sushi, by all means be adventurous with stuffing some items in with your nori. I also tried some fresh, hardy vegetables (you want them to be OK drying out in the oven). Some ideas include cabbage strips, carrot straws and bell pepper strips.
My other tip is to not saturate the nori- you need to wet it down to help it roll but you'll make your pretzels soggy if you add too much water so make sure that you use a light touch. My other main problem with this recipe- my toddler ate it so quick it was hard to get a picture of!
Nori wrapped pretzels
Prep time: 2 minutes
Cook time: roughly 20 minutes
Serves: however many you want to make
Nori sheets, roughly 2 X 3 inches
An equal amount of pretzel rods
Preheat oven to 250F.
Moisten the top side of your nori lightly with water, using your fingers. Turn the nori over to expose the dry side. Then, starting at the end of the nori sheet, start horizontally rolling in the pretzel rod. Keep rolling so that the entire sheet is used and the pretzel center is completely covered.
Place the nori wrapped pretzel sticks in the oven and dehydrate for ~20 minutes, or until the nori dries completely. Enjoy!
I am a big believer in snacking. It all started when I was pregnant with my little girl I've continued to keep up that eating style and found it really works for both of my kiddos. Less mood swings and tantrums equals a happier family overall and it helps me get them to eat more food groups over the course of the day.
But I know that not everyone is as mad about snacking as I am. Some people think that it takes away from eating balanced meals and adds a lot of uncounted calories to a diet. True, if you let your kid eat right before lunch or dinner then you might run into that problem, especially if they're eat a lot. But you can control that by having snacks and hour or two after meals so that they don't run into the next one. You should also limit snacks to 100-200 calories and make sure that they have protein and fiber so that they make your kids feel full with less food and they are satisfied a little longer.
I recently read an article by Dr. Bill Sears about why snacking is so great for your kids. I actually read some new stuff that I hadn't considered before and it helped me think about why this website is so important for your family. So here's some reasons why snacking is so good for kids. I also hope that it makes your feel inspired to check out some recipes while you're here, so that you can make sure those snacks have less processed ingredients and are healthy.
Stomach size: Kids tummies are the size of their fists. Thus getting all their calories (and food groups) during three large meals just isn't possible with that small of a space to pack food into. Snacking makes it so that they meet their caloric and nutritional needs.
Snacking helps with concentration: Snacking promotes steady blood sugar levels, which in turn means that the brain is fed a steady supply of food. That results in better concentration on learning tasks and less moodiness due to low blood sugar.
Snacking promotes a healthy gut: When too large of meals are ingested then a portion of that food stays relatively undigested in the gut. End result: indigestion and potentially constipation. Talk about an unhappy kid...
Snacking actually promotes healthier body frames: Steady eating results in stable insulin levels. Insulin signals the body to store energy reserves (i.e. sugars and fats), so when insulin levels are high, like after gorging on a big meals, then sugars and fats get stored in the body. So keeping insulin levels steady means that less reserves will be stored.
So the next time you're going out or just hanging out around the house, don't forget the snacks. It's good for your kids and will make you a happier parent.