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:
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I'm on a "just because it's green doesn't mean it tastes bad" campaign with my kids. So I decided to use my daughter's weakness, carbs, as one of my weapons.Did you know you don't have to cook oatmeal to rehydrate it? You can also eat it after soaking it with juice and the effect is really tasty. You end up with a sweetened
oatmeal that is really easy to make and can be a snack anytime. And at first my green-despising kids were dubious, but after one bite they were sold.I used Naked Juice Green Machine to soak my oats. There are a variety of other green juices out there, and you can also use just about any juice if you can't find a green type. I like the green effect and Green Machine has an almost smoothie like consistency, which makes for a creamier oatmeal.To rehydrate let the oats soak for at least 15 minutes, or even overnight. Enjoy!Green oatmealMakes: 1 serving1/4 cup quick rolled oatsGreen Machine juiceAdd oats to a small bowl. Add enough green machine to cover the oats. Refrigerate for a minimum of 15 minutes, then serve.Related reading:
Here's a fruit-filled, fun little way to make a mini fruit tart. And with a crust fashioned out of dates and almonds, it's almost like an energy bar base with tons of fruit piled on top. And best thing about it- it'll keep your kiddos occupied while you can focus on other things, like making dinner.
I stuck sunflower seeds into the crust along with my dates, almonds and spices. I think that this base itself is tasty enough to devour, and so if you have leftovers you can always roll them into bite-sized nuggets and store them in an airtight container for up to a week.
I used bananas, apples and cranberries for my fruit filling but feel free to experiment with what you have on hand and let me know if you find any good combos. Bananas are a great source of vitamin B6 and also have potassium, vitamin C, fiber and manganese. Apples are also a great source of fiber. Cranberries have both fiber and vitamin C, and add a little extra tang to these tarts. The dressing is the icing on the cake, with honey, lemon and vanilla it's sweet and satisfying.
As for the jar lids part, I found that 4 oz mason ball jar lids made for a great tart shape. We set them down (set them down like they would normally screw onto a jar) on a piece of parchment paper and then filled the inside with the
tart crust. After pushing it down completely with your fingers hold the center of the filling down with your fingers and lift up the jar lid. It was easy enough for my almost-two year old, though he did have a little trouble not eating the circles once they were completed.
It's a bit messy, but it's always fun to get your hands dirty when cooking. Enjoy!
Jar top tarts
Prep: 15 minutes
Total time: about an hour
Makes: roughly 12 tarts
1 cup diced apples
1 cup cup chopped bananas
1/4 cup dried cranberries
juice from half a lemon
1 tablespoon vanilla
2 tablespoons honey
2 cups almonds
2 cups pitted dates
2 tablespoons sunflower seeds
1/4 teaspoon cardamom
1/4 teaspoon allspice
2 teaspoons water
Mix apples, bananas, cranberries, lemon, vanilla and honey in a medium bowl Set aside for at least 30 minutes so flavors can meld and cranberries can reconstitute.
In a food processor combine the remaining ingredients and process until almonds are finely chopped and dates are paste-like.
Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Using a jar lid as a mold, press in date mix so that circles are formed. pinch up sides slightly to form a rim to keep fruit in. With a tablespoon add fruit mix to the top. Serve immediately. For longer storage, store in the refrigerator separately then make right before serving.
I think it's time for a talk about fiber. Cue in the Metamucil ads that accompany the evening news.
Aside from the nightly reminders during commercial breaks on the news, I know that fiber is on not on the forefront of everyone's minds, unless of course you have a kid that suffers from constipation. And in fact that is a common complaint, according to a friend of mine that is a pediatrician. I know, not exactly a scientific evaluation there, but still relevant. And if it's gotten to the point of making it to the pediatrician, then that means it's pretty serious. However often parents don't recognize that their child has bowel issues if there isn't vocal, tummy aching complaints. But if a kid isn't having a bowel movement regularly (i.e. daily, not every three days) then there is a lack of Gi motility.
Too often kids just aren't getting enough fiber in their diets. This is due to a reliance of many kids on pastas, white breads, heavily processed cereals and cheese. This fiber-deficient diet is bad for the gut, which can result in a cranky kid. This crankiness might not be easily explained because sometimes kids just know that they don't feel right, but they can't necessarily tie it to a specific body malady.
So what is fiber? It is the part of grains and fresh produce that is not absorbed by the digestive tract. This material travels along the digestive tract and helps pull up wastes that might otherwise be stymied in the bowels. Furthermore, bacteria and fiber react to make substances that help repair the gut lining.
If you look at nutrition labels you'll see that there are two types of fiber, soluble and insoluble. Solubility just refers to the ability to dissolve in water, thus soluble fiber will readily dissolve in water while insoluble will not. Soluble fiber, like that found in oatmeal, also pulls in cholesterol and helps satiate appetites by making you feel full. Insoluble fiber helps push wastes through the digestive tract by adding bulk.
Great sources of fiber are fruits, vegetables, beans and whole grains. Here's a treat that utilizes that latter of these, and adds in an extra bonus for kiddos that obfuscate whole grains for the white diet (white flour-based foods). If you can't get your kids to eat it, sugar-coat it, literally. Do that in the form of chocolate, and you've got a sure winner.
Around Christmas time I've seen a similar treats made with cornflakes or Chex. As opposed to those, get a high fiber, multi-grain cereal. I used a Trader Joe's variety, but some other good options are Kashi, All Bran, and Fiber One. Just go for whatever cereal you can find that's the highest in fiber.
For this recipe you only need three simple ingredients: fiber cereal, chocolate chips and chia seeds. If you can't get chia seeds at your grocery store, then try your local drugstore. I've seen them at Walgreens. They add in fiber and essential fats. I hope that your kiddos enjoy these snacks, and get some fiber in their tummies without even knowing it. Enjoy!
Chocolate cereal bites
Prep time: 10 minutes
Cooling time: ~ 1 hour
Makes: 1 dozen
1 cup high fiber cereal
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips, the higher quality the better since they don't have as many fillers
2 tablespoons chia seeds
Nuts to decoration (optional)
Melt chocolate chips in a microwave in one minute increments, followed by stirring, or in a double boiler. Add to cereal and chis seeds and mix well. Form into balls and set on a parchment paper lined pan. If desired, press one nut into the center. Put in the fridge and let cool completely before serving.
Here's a little mix that you can throw together in an empty spice jar and throw into your kids yogurt, cottage cheese, PB and J's, toast, cereal, oatmeal, fruit salad... the list goes on. And it's just a matter of mixing it up, storing it in the fridge, and just experimenting a little.
What makes this mix so special is it is one of the most nutritious things that you can sneak into your kids tummies. In fact this mix is so full of goodness that you can probably skip your kiddos multivitamin if you can sneak some of this in their snacks. Here are the components and their respective nutritional components so you can judge for yourself:
Wheat germ is the heart of the wheat berry and has a ton of nutrition is scant amount of product. It has fiber, folic acid, phosphorous, magnesium, zinc vitamin E and thiamin. It also has a mild flavor and is easy to hide in foods.
Chia seeds are native to South America. They pack more omega 3 fatty acids than any other plant source. For kids that are lactose intolerant or just adverse to dairy, chia seeds have 6 times more calcium than milk. They also are packed full of protein, fiber, magnesium, iron, phosphorous and manganese. They also contain a variety of amino acids, which your body uses to make proteins. Like wheat germ chia seeds are also mild in flavor.
Flax seeds have a nutty flavor, particularly if you buy roasted flax. They have tons of omega 3 fatty acids, fiber, lignins, magnesium, phosphorus and copper, thiamin (among other B vitamins) manganese, calcium, iron and zinc.
So this one is purely for taste so that you can trick your kids taste buds. After all, who doesn't love cinnamon?
So go ahead and try this mix out so you can start your kids off on the right foot, without them even knowing it. For one spice jar, here's what you'll need:
2 tablespoons wheat germ
1 tablespoon chia seeds
1 1/2 tablespoons flax seeds
1 tablespoon cinnamon
Mix together and store in the fridge to keep the seeds lasting longer. For long term storage, store in the freezer.