Have you ever made your own frozen produce? It's a simple way to keep fruits and vegetables lasting longer and saves you money. If you freeze produce when it's in season during the Summer you'll have it during the Winter when
Here is some basic information about how to freeze your food properly:
- Cooled food freezes faster, which keeps ice crystals from forming on the food and compromising the flavor. If you are freezing food that was cooked, bring it to room temperature prior to freezing. You want to bring it to room temperature within two hours to keep harmful bacteria from growing.
- Flash freeze individual items like berries so that they don't stick together. To do this line a baking sheet with parchment paper and arrange berries individually. Place in freezer overnight, then put into ziplock bags in the morning.
- Take care in wrapping frozen foods. A vacuum sealer is a great way to lock in flavor, but you can accomplish a similar results by tightly wrapping frozen food in plastic wrap, then placing it into a freezer bag.
- If you're going to defrost before you use your frozen food defrost it in your refrigerator.
- Make sure to label and date your frozen foods.
- Ideally you only want to cook your food once, when you are ready to eat it. Both cooking and freezing foods drains the moisture from foods, so it's best to freeze produce raw.
During the Summer, when berries and other sweet fruits are in season, you can get some delicious produce at very low prices. So why not stock up and make your own smoothie packs for the Winter? You'll be saving money by avoiding higher Winter prices, getting better quality fruit and will have smoothie ingredients ready to go. And since these will be going into a smoothie there's no need to defrost prior to use, just pour your fruit into the blender, add some Greek yogurt and a little juice and your all set. Enjoy!
3 peaches, peeled, pitted and sliced
1 cup blackberries
1 avocado, pitted and sliced
2 bananas, sliced
Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Arrange fruit on paper so that it is not touching.
Place in the freezer, uncovered, overnight. In the morning wrap two cup portions, making sure to grab a little of each fruit, in plastic wrap. Put into ziplock bags and label with the date. Store in the freezer until ready to use.
This guest post comes from Summer Nanny Jobs
and has some really great, natural snack ideas. Enjoy!
During the long, hot days of summer, heavy snacks can leave kids feeling sluggish and unmotivated. Pre-packaged snacks can be filled with additives, coloring agents, and preservatives, not to mention they’re more expensive than their wholesome, homemade counterparts. During hectic days, parents and caregivers may not have much time to devote to concocting elaborate snacks, but that doesn’t mean you have to go the pre-packaged route; here are ten warm-weather treats that are sure to be a hit with your little ones during the hottest of summer days.
- Fruit Kabobs – Spearing fruit and cheese cubes onto skewers makes for a wholesome snack that’s assembled in a snap; this recipe works with any seasonal fruit you have on hand. Apples and cheese are always a favorite pairing; tart, sweet apples and calcium-rich cheese satisfy little ones and parents alike.
- Parfaits – Layering yogurt, fresh fruit, and granola into glasses requires next to no time, and makes for a light, healthy snack on a hot summer day. Kids love the pretty layered effect, but may not be coordinated enough to keep glass intact; if your little ones are on the clumsy side, opt for unbreakable, transparent plastic. Don’t forget the long-handled spoons!
- Frozen Yogurt Pops – Frozen yogurt pops are readily available in the freezer section of any grocery store; however, they can be laden with preservatives and artificial flavorings. Springing for an inexpensive Popsicle mold is one of the smartest summer-snack investments you can make; simply mix your kids’ favorite flavor of yogurt with roughly chopped, lightly mashed fruit, pour into molds, and freeze overnight. Enjoy all-natural frozen yogurt pops, naturally sweetened by the fruit and free of preservatives and chemicals.
- Coconut Water Popsicles – High in potassium and minerals, coconut water is the liquid found inside young coconuts. The coconut flavor is mild and understated, and very low in sugar; to make these coconut water popsicles palatable to kids, mix with chopped fruit and pour into your trusty Popsicle molds.
- Fruit Pizza – While traditional recipes for fruit pizza call for a sugar cookie crust, parents looking to keep sugar content to a minimum may prefer a traditional pizza crust sweetened with a pinch of brown sugar and cinnamon. Bake crust according to package instructions, and allow it to cool. Spread with a fruit-flavored cream cheese such as strawberry or pineapple, then top with sliced fruit. Drizzle with a puree of strawberries or raspberries, slice, and serve.
- Graham Cracker Sandwiches – Potassium-rich bananas and peanut butter are a classic pairing; adding graham crackers creates a kid-favorite snack in the blink of an eye. Simply mash a sliced banana with a fork, and mix with a heaping spoonful of peanut butter. Spread the gooey mixture between two graham crackers and serve.
- Ants on a Log – Crisp, cool celery pairs so beautifully with peanut butter that this classic snack is the stuff of legend. Quickly assembled and loved by kids, Ants on a Log are one of the greatest summertime snacks; just spread a healthy layer of peanut butter onto a celery stick and top with raisins.
- Smoothies – Frozen fruit, milk, and yogurt can be thrown into a blender to create a snack that’s high in calcium and full of fruity goodness. For ultimate kid approval, serve with a whimsical twisty straw in a colorful cup. Experiment with fruits and yogurt flavors; there are no hard and fast rules when it comes to delightful combinations.
- Watermelon “Cookies” – Nothing says “summer” quite like the red, juicy flesh of a watermelon. To make these watermelon “cookies,” slice a watermelon into one inch slabs, and then use cookie cutters to make interesting shapes. For those that feel like icing is an essential part of a cookie’s makeup, a layer of thick vanilla-flavored Greek yogurt provides a calcium and protein boost while maintaining its consistency against the juice of the watermelon.
- Trail Mix – Bagged trail mix can be full of unnecessary calories and fat, while the all-natural, preservative-free variety gets quite pricey. To make your own healthy mix without breaking the bank, mix any dried fruit, like cranberries or raisins, with assorted nuts and pretzel sticks. For the highest kid approval rating, let them join in the fun. Because it contains no dairy or perishable items, this trail mix can be tucked into a beach bag for poolside snacking, tossed in a backpack to provide sustenance on a long hike, or stuck in a pocket for portable munching at the park.
Fresh fruit is the cornerstone of healthy summer snacks, so be sure to keep as much on hand as possible. Local farmers’ markets can be less expensive than chain grocery store produce, so keep your eyes peeled for such facilities. These markets also tend to be fun for kids, so don’t hesitate to bring them along for the fruit shopping adventure!Related reading:
It's fig season! For a lot of fig lovers that means a daily battle with the birds for ripe figs. For us that means picking as many as you can before the evening monsoon catches you, as happened to my husband and the kids on this last bunch of freshly picked figs. But after reaping the benefits of some pretty laden trees I've been asking around about some great fig snack ideas. Below are some of the highlights, but first here's a fig crash course.
Most of the time people think if figs as dried, as in the filling for the classic Fig Newton. But fresh figs are in season throughout the Summer and are like honey, have a plump crisp skin, soft flesh, and crisp mild seeds. Overall they are naturally sweet and refreshing. They only last for a couple of days after picking, so if you buy or pick them you have to use them pretty quickly.
Figs are a great source of fiber, which is great for kids GI tracts. They also have calcium, potassium, manganese and B vitamins. They're also great for younger kids since they don't have large seeds that can cause choking. Essentially you can hand a whole fig off without having to pit them or remove a core.
So if you have some fresh figs on hand here's a way to incorporate them into your snacks. After all, with figs timing is of the essence so you better be quick! Enjoy!
1. Figs and yogurt: Chop figs, top with plain Greek yogurt, drizzle with honey and sprinkle on a few shelled pistachios.
2. Stuffed figs with blue cheese: Stuff a half fig with a pecan and sprinkle with blue cheese crumbles.
3. Figs with brie: Thinly slice fig, then top with a dallop of brie and place on a whole wheat cracker.
4. Poached figs: Stuff fig halves with a pecan or walnut. Place in a small pan and pour in fruit juice (I used orange juice). Drizzle with honey. Poach in fruit juice until softened, 5-10 minutes.
I hope you're kiddos enjoy these ideas as much as we did!Related reading:
If you haven't already done so, don't forget to enter the whimsical give away!
You could win 3 sets of lunch punch sandwich cutters, a 43.99 value!
Sometimes, it's all a matter of presentation.And with that in mind it's time
for another give away. This time around, up for grabs are three sets of Lunch Punch
sandwich cutters that will make your kids lunches boxes and snacks impossible to resist. Goodbye to boring PB and J with the crusts cut off, hello trains, planes and frog princes.
Sandwiches are just the beginning with these cutters, you can also use smaller inner cutters for fruits cut outs and you can punch shapes out of the center of larger fruits. You can also do scrambled egg cut outs, cheeses, cakes, toast... I'm sure the possibilities are endless with a little creativity. Here's just a few examples of what you can do:
These cutters are also BPA-free and dishwasher safe. By the way, if you bought this gift pack on Amazon the retail value for these sets is $43.99. So do you want to get your creative juices flowing and win 3 sets of these punchers? It's super simple! All you have to do is one (or more, if you want to increase your odds) of the following:
1. Like Healthy Kiddo Snacks on Facebook
2. Follow Healthy Kiddo Snacks on Twitter
3. Follow Healthy Kiddo Snacks on Pinterest
4. Don't have accounts for the above sites or are you already a Healthy Kiddo Snacks follower? If so then simply comment below on what is your favorite lunch combo.
Easy- right? And by following me on these social network sites, you'll be kept up to date on new posts. You can enter up to three times total- so if you want to follow me on all three networks that will count as three entries. You have until midnight on 7/31/12 to enter. Limited to U.S. residents only. At that point I will select a winner and have Amazon send this lunch punch Giveway package to that lucky reader. Good luck!
Have you ever tried coconut oil in recipes? A lot of people use this unprocessed fat as an alternative to butter, and it's actually a pretty tasty substitute. It's got a texture similar to shortening, but it's actually not hydrogenated (if you buy the virgin coconut oil form) and has some interesting health benefits.
- Coconut oil is high in saturated fats, like butter. Traditionally saturated fats have been called the bad fats, but like most nutritional news this bad fat mantra is an oversimplification. In the case of coconut oil the majority of these fats are medium chain fatty triglycerides, which don't raise serum cholesterol levels and have heart healthy effects, like olive oil.
- One of the medium chains fats in coconut oil is lauric acid, which has anti-viral and anti-bacterial properties when metabolized by the body. This can help support immune system function and is good news for those of us with kiddos in daycare.
- Recently there's been research showing that coconut oil actually boosts metabolism, despite it's high fat content.
- Due to it's anti-bacterial and anti-viral properties, coconut oil is thought to be good for the digestive system as it repairs damage to the lining of the gut. In addition it helps with the absorption of fat soluble vitamins and minerals like calcium, which is great news for kids with growing bones.
So why not try out this healthy fat with something equally good for the family, like whole grain blueberry muffins. The essence of coconut in them from the coconut oil makes them even more delicious, so much so that your kids won't miss the butter. Enjoy!
Prep time: 10 minutes
Makes: 1 dozen
1 3/4 cups white whole wheat flour or whole wheat pastry flour
3/4 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 cup flax meal (or an additional egg if you don't have flax)
3/4 cup milk
1/3 cup raw honey
1/4 cup melted coconut oil
1 egg, lightly beaten
1 cup blueberries
unsweetened shredded coconut for topping (optional)
Preheat oven to 400F.
Mix together flour, salt, baking powder and flax meal. Make a well in the center, then set aside.
In a separate bowl combine the rest of the ingredients, except for the blueberries. Pour into a well in your dry ingredients. Add blueberries and stir until just combined, ~ 10 strokes.
Fill muffin cups 2/3 full with batter and sprinkle with coconut, if using. Bake for 20 minutes in a lightly greased muffin tin. Cool 5-10 minutes before serving.