First and foremost, I'm sorry it's been a while since I've posted anything. I've been suffocating under a pile of grading, as so often happens at this point of the semester. But I have a little more breathing room and a couple of tasty recipes that my kiddos liked, so here's to getting back into the swing of things.
As some of you already know I am a part of a co-op, so my produce can really vary from week to week and in quantity. Last week I got a ton of avocados, which I absolutely love. My adventurous two year old is right there with me, eating the stuff off of carrot sticks like it's frosting. But my five year old, eh not so much. Or not at all. So here's a way to sneak in an avocado, plus a few other greens, into a creamy smoothy that even a more discerning palate will go for.
First off, what's so great about avocados? The one thing you always hear about is that they have a lot of fat. Commonly we make the mistake thinking that all fat is bad. In fact fats are a necessary part of our diets and children actually need to get 30% of their calories from fats, ideally from fats that are beneficial. That last part of the reason that avocados are a great source of fat- the fats they pack in our monounsaturated fats, which are good for you. Aside from their fat content, avocados are also rich in vitamin E, carotneoids, fiber, vitamin K, and potassium.
The honeydew part of this is really just a bit of trickery; there isn't much honeydew but its green color helped disguise my avocado and spinach ingredients. If you haven't made smoothies with avocado before you're missing out- they really make it a creamy concoction. Also my daughter had some dental work done the day I made these, so her diet was pretty limited and I wanted her to get some fat and protein in this snack. To that end I also added a little coconut oil, but you can use coconut water or opt out of it altogether if you don't want that additional fat.
If my picky daughter asked for seconds on this then I'm guessing other picky kiddos will like it too. Let me know how it works out. Enjoy!
Makes: 4 servings
1 cup plain Greek yogurt
1 cup milk
1/2 cup any frozen fruit, such as peaches, berries, or if not on hand use ice
1/2 cup chopped honeydew
5-6 spinach leaves
2 tablespoons honey
1 tablespoon coconut oil
1 teaspoon vanilla
Add all the above ingredients to a blender and blend until smooth and creamy. Serve immediately.
My publishing network is currently running a make ahead meals feature (shown at the top here), and it got me thinking about some make ahead snacks. As quick as some snacks are to make, sometimes you don't even have 5 minutes to put it all together. These parfait shakers can be made beforehand, stuck in the fridge, and mixed up when the kids get home from school. Perfect for when you're just walking in the door and need a snack right that minute.
Why are these shakers? When you're read to eat them, simply shake like crazy to blend and meld the flavors. Yup, this is a snack that's also an activity for hyperactive kiddos. You want to wait til right before eating to mix otherwise the granola will get soggy.
Aside from the joy of shaking the heck out of your mason jar you also are helping break up the fruit and mix the honey for a really well flavored yogurt treat.Any softer fruit, like peaches and berries, work really well for this since they'll break apart in the shaking process.
Peaches were in my co-op basket this week, so that's what I used but they're also great with ripe strawberries.You can also use regular yogurt as opposed to Greek, I just like the extra creaminess and higher protein content of Greek yogurt. Greek yogurt is strained so that excess liquid is removed, which results in a thick, high protein snack. In fact 1 cup of a good quality Greek yogurt (I buy Fage) has 23g of protein, while regular yogurt has 11-13g. That will result in a snack that will satisfy hungry kids for longer.
The only caveat is that you do need to check the protein content of the Greek yogurt before you buy it, some are labeled Greek yogurt but have the same amount as protein as regular yogurt.Enjoy!
Yogurt parfait shakers
Prep time: 5 minutes
Makes: 1 parfait
6 oz mason jars with lid (or another small sealing container)
4 oz plain Greek yogurt
1/2 tablespoon honey
1 oz sliced and halved peaches
2 tablespoons granola
Add yogurt to mason jar, then tap down smartly on the counter. Add honey and repeat tapping. Add peaches and press down with your fingertips slightly. Add granola, and again tap, making sure that contents are packed compactly. Refrigerate until ready to serve. Just prior to serving shake up for a minute or two jars to mix contents.
Cottage cheese goes pretty quickly in our house. It's just a matter of scooping a bowlful out of the container and you've got a ready made snack with little fuss, which can be really handy right after school. It's also mild in flavor, which means it can be paired with some tasty partners.
Cottage cheese is a great snack for the whole family. Here are some of the highlights:
- It's low in calories and low in fat if you purchase the reduced fat varieties. Even if you don't go that route, a 1/2 cup serving of full fat cottage cheese only has 5 g fat.
- In a half cup serving, it has 14 g of protein, making it a high protein snack that will hold your kids over til the next meal.
- It's low in sugar, with only 3g per 1/2 cup serving.
So if you don't have a container of cottage cheese in your fridge, maybe you should put it on the shopping list. Here are some great ways to make it a tasty snack it even more nutritional value:
1. Sprinkle it on: To boost the nutrient content of your cottage cheese, try sprinkling on a some nutrient packed toppings like wheat germ, flax meal or chia seeds.
2. Spice it up: For more flavor add a dash of spice to the top- we like to use cinnamon.
3. Fruit medley: Add berries, peaches, mangoes or dried fruit for a sweet and savory snack with added vitamins.
4. Use it as a stuffer: We love to stuff apricots, figs and cucumbers with cottage cheese for a pretty snack that has the added bonus of an edible bowl.
5. Seasonal fruit butters: Top with apple butter for a hearty Fall snack. Other options are fruit-filled jams that don't have added sugar.
Here's a quick snack that is also pretty, which is a real bonus when you have a little Princess running around. I saw almond stuffed apricots on Super Healthy Kids
, and I figured that I would make my own rendition because it's such a great idea. These are quick, easy and really tasty.We love Apricots and now is the time to buy them
. They are in season in late Spring and Summer, so if you're a seasonal eater they are a great fruit to enjoy during these hot Summer months. We bought a case at Costco and my kids have almost devoured all of them. That makes me happy because apricots are a great source of vitamin A (60% in one cup serving), vitamin C and also have potassium and fiber. So to add a little variety to your kids apricots, try stuffing them with this tasty mix. Enjoy!Stuffed apricotsPrep time: 5 minutesMakes: 2 servings1 apricot, cut in half2 tablespoons cottage cheese8 blueberries1 teaspoon chopped walnutsScrape out center of apricots with a melon baller so that you have a a sufficient space to add filling to. In a bowl combine cottage cheese and berries and scoop into prepared apricots. Sprinkle with walnuts. Serve immediately.Related reading:
Summertime= cool dessert snacks!
When I was a kid I loved banana splits. Granted they were a special occasion thing, but they were one of my favorites. There' s just something magical about the combination of fruit and dairy. Or maybe it's all that sugar, who knows when you're a kid?So here's a way to put a little more nutrients into a similar concept- use honey sweetened Greek yogurt instead of ice cream
and raspberry lime sauce
instead of processed canned pineapple. With Greek yogurt you still get the creaminess, but not all the fat (and especially saturated fat).Not all Greek yogurts are created equal. Make sure you check the protein content on the nutrition facts label
. A good quality Greek yogurt will have roughly 23g protein in one cup. That's a lot of protein, and in a relatively low calorie food! All that protein comes from straining the whey out of the yogurt, concentrating the protein. But if you aren't careful you'll find that some yogurts that are labeled as Greek yogurt don't have nearly as much protein per serving.Enjoy this healthy kiddos rendition of a classic! Yogurt banana split boatsPrep time:
a few minutes if you've already made the raspberry sauceMakes: two servings3/4 cup plain Greek yogurt1 1/2 tablespoons honey
1 banana, evenly quarteredRaspberry lime sauce1 tablespoon chopped walnutsIn a small bowl
combine honey and yogurt.Arrange two of the banana slices so they are cut side up in a bowl
. Add half of the yogurt mix, using an ice cream scooper. Squirt on raspberry sauce to your liking. Top with half of the chopped walnuts. Serve immediately. Related reading:
My children attend a Jewish daycare that I absolutely love. Now we are not Hebrew, and on occasion that can make for some awkward moments. But I am slowly learning about some of the traditions and I even know a couple of Hebrew words, mainly related to preschool classroom terminology.
Case in point of my Hebrew culture crash course: Passover. During the Passover you cannot eat a litany of foods, mainly those that are grains. That sounds pretty easy, but it's taken me a few years to figure out how to pack lunches that my kids will eat and will hold them over. You'd be amazed at how dependent we are on grains for kids foods, especially when you're caught in your morning rush.
Here is a short list of foods that are not allowed during Passover, thus these big no-nos in my kids lunch bags:
Legumes: peas, beans, soy (including edamame and tofu) and lentils
Corn: also includes things sweetened with corn syrup
Grains: wheat, rye, spelt, oats and barley
So this week I have to be creative with my kids snacks and lunches. For years they just got cheese, eggs and fruit all week, but this time around I decided to try and make something special.
You might have noticed that grocery stores have their Kosher foods out right know. Foods that are usually given about three feet of shelf space in the back of the ethnic foods aisle are now front and center. One of those items is matzoh, which kind of looks like huge crackers.
Matzoh is unleavened bread that is OK to eat during Passover. To me it tastes like saltines without the salt, making it a little bland. But it's essentially like a giant, crispy cracker, and with that property it really is a great snack pizza crust. So we made matzoh pizzas today and they were terrific- crispy and super tasty. For those of you that follow this blog you know that my little guy can't do cheese, so he got his own with salmon and hard boiled egg.
So whether you follow Passover guidelines or are just looking for a fun new snack, definitely try these out. They're easy to make and fun to eat as you snap them apart for your portion. Just about any vegetable will work, and you can also add tomato sauce below the cheese if you like. My daughter is not a tomato fan so I made portions with it and without. Thus our pizza had lots of different options, which is also a bonus when you have kids with different tastes. Enjoy!
Passover pizza snacks
Prep: 5 minutes
Cook time: 8-10 minutes
Serves: one cracker makes 4 snacks
1 matzoh cracker
4 tablespoons tomato sauce (optional)
Sliced Havarti cheese
Cut up veggies like carrots, cucumber and tomatoes (alright, so I know those latter ones are really fruits....)
Fresh chopped basil, oregano or thyme (optional)
Preheat oven to 350F.
If using tomato sauce, add a spoonful to four areas on the matzoh. Top with cheese slices, then a few veggies. Bake for 8-10 minutes, or until cheese is melted and bubbly. Let cool for 5 minutes. When ready to eat, simply break off pieces and enjoy.
Why not use a kid-approved food, like pizza, to add some vegetables to your kids diet? If you make those pizzas snack-size, they are even more appealing (isn't everything that's smaller cuter?) and easily portable. An added bonus- these are fun to make and a kid-in-the-kitchen friendly recipe.
Now I know that this isn't my own personal brainchild. There have been pizza bites in the frozen section of your local grocery store since I was a kid. Bagel bites are the ones that come to mind, which claim to be a natural snack right on the front of the box. But here's a wrap up of what else your kids are eating when you serve them up. Note the fact that salt is listed multiple times.
Pepperoni Bagel Bites Ingredients
Bleached Wheat Flour,Water, Mozzarella Cheese (Milk, Cultures, Salt,Enzymes) Tomato Puree (Tomato Paste, Water) Pepperoni (Pork, Beef, Salt, Spices, Water, Dextrose,Seasonings[Oleoresin of Paprika, Natural Spice Extractives, BHA, BHT, Citric Acid] Lactic Acid Starter Culture, Sodium Nitrate)2% or Less of: High Fructose Corn Syrup, Modified Cornstarch, Salt, Soybean Oil, Yeast, Whey protein concentrate, Nonfat Milk, Flavor enhancer (potassium chloride, ammonium chloride, yeast extract, Maltodextrin, Lactic Acid, Citric Acid, Calcium Lactate, Natural Flavor) Methylcellulose, Citric Acid, Red Pepper, Natural Flavor, Dough Conditioner (Ascorbic Acid) Enzymes.Source: Weighty MattersIn a nutshell there are tons of additives, lots of salt and hidden sugars.
Not very natural, and definitely not a healthy snack.So here's a way to take a snack that is really unhealthy in the store-bought rendition and make it your own. The more you sneak onto these the more nutritious they'll be.
I used cucumbers, tomatoes (both fresh from my garden) and mushrooms but feel free to boost your creativity. You can make these really easy and buy ready-made pizza dough at most grocery stores, though I just make my own so I don't have to worry about dough conditioners and other additives. Either way let me know what you tried.Enjoy!Pizza bitesPrep time: 45 minutes if you make your own dough
, 30 of which are to let the dough riseCook time: ~7 minutesMakes: 24Pizza Dough
1 cup white flour1 cup whole wheat flour3/4 cup very warm water1 teaspoon unrefined sugar1 teaspoon salt
Add all the above except the oil to a food processor. Combine until a ball of dough forms, then pull the dough out of the container and add more wheat flour if the dough is sticky. Knead for about 5 minutes until the dough is manageable.
Form into a ball. Place in a olive oil greased bowl (essentially rub a little olive oil into the bottom and sides of a bowl, then roll the dough in it so it's surfaces are all coated with oil) and let rise for 30 minutes. After 30 minutes punch down and put onto a lightly olive oiled surface. Coat your rolling pin with a little olive oil to prevent sticking. Separate dough into 24 balls, then roll into flat circles that will cover the bottom of your muffin pan.Pizza toppingsthin slices of mozzarellatomato slice
scucumber slicesmushroom slicesshredded Parmesan Preheat oven to 500F.Lightly grease a muffin with non-stick cooking spray
. Add dough and press down to make sure that the bottom is covered. Add a slice or two of mozzarella cheese, then add veggies. Sprinkle the top with Parmesan. Bake for ~ 7 minutes, but keep an eye on them and pull them when the cheese is melted, bubbly, and golden on the edges. Let cool for 10 minutes prior to serving.Related reading:
We have now moved into October, which means it's time to buy those costumes and break out with the pumpkin recipes. And with the creation of pumpkin pie spice, you can make just about anything taste nice and pumpkin-y without much work.An added bonus is that pumpkins are really good for you and your family.
They have a massively high dose of vitamin A
, with 280% of a daily serving packed into just 1/2 cup of pumpkin puree. They also are rich in antioxidants and B complex vitamins
. And despite being loaded with all these vitamins they still have room for small doses of minerals like phosphorous, calcium (both great for growing bones), copper and potassium
.This recipe utilizes strained Greek yogurt, which I posted about previously as a great way to make faux cream cheese. All you need to do is strain Greek style yogurt in a cheesecloth placed in a strainer
. Let it strain in the fridge for a few hours or oDespite the fact that Greek yogurt is already strained, you'll still get ~2 tablespoons of liquid if you do an additional straining. That makes for a richer, creamier spread. Add in pumpkin puree and pumpkin pie spice, and you have a super tasty snack.I served this with graham crackers, but you can use just about any sweet cracker or cookie. Just make sure to check your labels. Unfortunately the popular graham cracker brand Nabisco Honey Made has high fructose corn syrup. I bought my graham crackers from Trader Joe's and they are high fructose free, so just make sure to check your labels. You can also use animal crackers and Vanilla cookies, but keep that caveat in mind.We gobbled this up, Thanksgiving pun intended. It really does taste like pumpkin pie, so if you like pumpkin pie you'll definitely like this dip.
Enjoy!Pumpkin pie dipPrep: 5 minutes, once yogurt is strainedServes: 4-6 people1 cup strained Greek yogurt
1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice1/2 cup pumpkin puree2 tablespoons honeyGraham crackersMix together yogurt, spices, pumpkin and honey
. Serve immediately with graham crackers.Related reading:
This idea comes from a dear friend of mine that has a PhD in Physiology, is an amazing baker, a devoted Mom and phenomenal chef on top of it all. Anytime she gives me an idea, I know it will be great. I hope you all think so too.
Around here we have a cream cheese problem. It's so flavorful and creamy, and (sadly) so full of fat. In a scant 1 oz serving (which is about enough for half a bagel if you live at my house) is packed 9 whopping grams of fat. Six of those grams are saturated fat, a.k.a. the bad fats. Alas our love of cream cheese is not a healthy affair, but it's still so darn good.
Enter another of our great loves, Greek yogurt. If you like it too, then read on. And even if you aren't the biggest fan, try this out and see if you will be a convert.
Here's a quick way to make a spread that tastes just like cream cheese, but with a lot less fat. Just use Greek yogurt, which is simply regular yogurt that has been strained. And to make it even more decadent, just strain it a little more overnight in cheese cloth. Surprisingly you'll get another tablespoon or two of liquid out of it. The end result will be a thick creamy spread that is just like cream cheese. And it's also very versatile. You can do savory blends or sweet, go gourmet or keep it basic.
To strain it all you need is some cheese cloth, a half cup of Greek yogurt, a small strainer or colander, and a medium bowl to set it in that will collect the liquid.t. Add your yogurt to the cheese cloth and tie it off to seal it. Place this wrap into your strainer or colander and stick in the refrigerator overnight.
Here are some ideas to flavor your yogurt spread:Savory bell pepper and chivesAdd two tablespoons chopped roasted red bell pepper, a tablespoon chives
, 1/4 teaspoon salt and a teeny bit of finely minced garlic. Mix together and let sit for a few minute so the flavors can meld. Use on sandwiches, on a bagel or as a dip with whole wheat crackers.Honey walnutAdd 1 tablespoon honey and two teaspoons finely chopped walnuts to make a sweeter spread for
bagels or toast.Sweet preserves blendAdd two tablespoons fine quality preserves or fruit butter to spread and mix. Serve with toasted baguette slices or with regular toast.
Mixed herb spreadMix in 2-3 tablespoons of whatever fresh herbs you have on hand and a 1/4 teaspoon salt. The final amount depends on how strong your herbs are. Use a combo as opposed to one type for variety. Serve as a dip with whole wheat crackers.Lox schmear
Mix in two tablespoons of finely chopped smoked salmon, 1 tablespoon chopped tomato and 1/2 teaspoon finely minced shallot. Serve with whole wheat crackers or on a bagel.Related reading: Pumpkin pie dip
I only have time for a quick snack today- check out my monstrous laundry pile. Yikes.
Add in a fussy toddler and a four year old with a cough, and that doesn't leave much time for being in the kitchen.
So I decided to make a quick snack that was suggested by a graduate student I've been training in the lab. I've always paired cottage cheese with sweet foods, like preserves and fruit butters. But she suggested a tangy take on cottage cheese, specifically mustard. I was dubious at first, but I love the combo, and even better my kids really like it too.
Cottage cheese is a really great source of calcium and protein, all while being low in fat and calories. To be perfectly honest I don't buy the low-fat or fat free varieties because they just don't taste as good and are supplemented with lots of sugar and salt to make up for the lack of flavor. Full fat cottage cheese has only 5 grams of fat in a 1/2 cup serving, which is a pretty generous amount if you think about it. Typically 1/4 of cottage cheese is enough for small kids.
To make this snack even more appealing to my kids we whipped together cucumber cups to hold our cottage cheese. Cucumbers are low in calories, high in potassium, vitamin K and also have anti-oxidants. They also have tons of water, which makes them really refreshing.
To make these cups I cut off the ends of a large cucumber. Then I trimmed off ~1/4 inch off the bottom so that there was a flat surface to set the cucumbers on. Then I hollowed out the center with a melonballer. With the remaining center of the cucumber I sliced it into straws for dipping. That was the most labor intensive part of this recipe, and it really took very little time. You can just use a bowl if you like, but the kids like the cups more and you can eat them when you're done. And for someone like me, the mama disposal, that makes this snack pretty tasty for me too.
Cucumber cottage cheese cups
Prep time: 3 minutes
1 large cucumber
1/2 cup cottage cheese
1/2 teaspoon mustard
Cut off the ends of the cucumbers so that they are roughly 3-4 inches high. Hollow out into cups as described above. Cut the remaining center into straws for dipping.
In a bowl combine cottage cheese and mustard. With a small spoon fill the cucumber cups with the mix, then serve.