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.
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.
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 another great chia recipe from a fellow blogger! This one comes from Aubrey, who runs the informative, Community-based site Homegrown and Healthy. I love her chia idea, it's right up my alley, really innovative and super easy.
I am a caffeine-crazy Momma. That happens when you have two kids, work, and have a husband that works and is in Grad School. So I have to hit up a coffee shop every few days, and 9 times out of 10 I have the kiddos in tow. To keep them placated while I sip my latte, I usually get them a scone from our favorite shop. I go for the scone because it has fruit- so it's good for you, right? I'm not totally sure about that, but this rendition is.
I've had two apples in the fruit bowl that got pretty beat up by a mischievous almost-two year old, so I figured they would only be good for baking. After all, no one wants to bite into a bruised apple, not even that mischievous kiddo that gave them those bruises while practicing his baseball moves.
What I like about this recipe is that it is full of fiber-rich whole grains and it has the added goodness of apples and dates. I love sweetening just about everything with dates. These also have a little honey, which I love for both it's taste and it's health benefits. Just make sure to buy local or buy from natural food stores; box stores sell filtered honey that is lacking in the properties that make it good for you and has questionable origins.
You have the potential to add omegas to these scones by substituting half of your butter with an equal amounts of ground flax. That will replace bad fats (saturated fats) with good fats (omega-3 fatty acids). But if you don't have ground flax you can just use the full amount of butter.
Regardless these are really tasty and your kids won't even know that they are healthy too. Enjoy!
Apple date scones
Prep time: 10-15 minutes
Cook time: 20 minutes
Makes: 8 large scones
1 1/2 cups whole wheat pastry flour
1 cup rolled oats
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup cold butter, chopped into small cubes (or substitute 1/4 cup butter with 1/4 cup flax)
3/4 cups diced unpeeled apple
2/3 cups chopped pitted dates
1/4 cup milk (cow, soy or almond OK)
1/4 cup honey
2 tablespoons molasses
1 teaspoon vanilla
Extra milk for brushing.
Preheat oven to 400F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper, then lightly grease the paper.
In a large mixing bowl combine flour, oats, baking powder and salt. With a pastry blender or two forks, cut in butter until mixture is in coarse, pea-sized crumbles. Stir in the apples and dates.
In a separate bowl mix together egg, milk, honey, molasses and vanilla. Pour into your dry mixture, and stir until just combined.
Pour mixture onto the parchment paper and pat into an 8 inch circle. With a serrated knife cut into 8 wedges. Brush the top with a little milk. Bake on the middle shelf of the oven for 20 minutes. Let cool completely, then serve.
I have to admit, I was skeptical when I saw quinoa granola recipes popping up out there. Quinoa has such a earthy flavor and, frankly, smells kind of bad when you cook it. But I figured I'd give it a try because, despite not being the best smelling pot on the stove, I am still in love with quinoa. I'm so glad I did- this is some of the best granola I've had the pleasure of eating. The quinoa grains make for a crunch unlike regular granola, and it lends a really satisfying texture.
What's the big deal with quinoa?
It's one of the best grains out there that you can eat. Quinoa high in protein, but what makes it particularly benficial is that the protein it supplies is complete protein. That means that all nine amino acids (the building blocks of proteins) are supplied, making it well-balanced. In addition quinoa has lots of the amino acid lysine, which is essential for tissue growth and repair. Quinoa is also high in manganese, magnesium, folate, and phosphorus and fiber.
So with all that good stuff, here's an enticing way to eat it that your kids are sure to love. My daughter is cereal-crazy, so I decided to try this out as a healthier alternative to store bought varieties. She loves it, and called it dessert, so I think your kids will too. Enjoy!
Coconut quinoa granola
Prep time: 10 minutes
Cook time: 50 minutes
Makes: ~ 3 cups
1 cup rolled oats
1/2 cup dried quinoa
1/2 cup chopped almonds
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
1/2 cup unsweetened coconut
1/2 cup dried fruit, such as cranberries, dried blueberries and/or raisins
1/4 cup melted coconut oil
1/3 cup honey
1 teaspoon vanilla
Pre-heat the oven to 250F.
Mix all the dry ingredients in a medium bowl. Combine honey, oil and vanilla then pour over dry ingredients. Mix thoroughly (I used my hands) then pour onto a greased baking sheet.
Cook for 50 minutes, tossing a few times to insure even browning. Let cool, then store in an air tight container.
Here's a great way to make healthy cereal a snack- try baking it in a loaf of bread. You can use several different types of hardier cereals, like bran, Kashi or granola. I opted for the latter because we had a box of pumpkin flax granola on hand. It adds more nutrients to an otherwise whole wheat loaf and makes for a tasty, satisfying snack.
I also made this bread dairy-free because my little guy can't tolerate any milk products. Bakers out there will note that I made a dairy-free sour milk (essentially just mixing lemon juice into your liquids), but if you don't have kids with dairy issues than you can use buttermilk instead. I think that any milk will do, but soy or almond help add a little more flavor to the bread.
I also added chia seeds to make this bread a little more calcium rich. But they are completely optional so if you don't have them that's totally OK. I just always have a bag handy because they are a great source of both omega-3 fatty acids and calcium (6% of your daily calcium intake is packed into just one tablespoon of chia seeds!). I think that the real stars of this recipe are the coconut and the molasses- they add a lot of flavor to this super healthy and yet really tasty bread. We devoured the loaf pretty quickly, but like most quick sweet breads it actually tastes better if you let it sit overnight so the flavors can meld together. Regardless of your family's patience level, this bread is a great morning snack. Enjoy!
Coconut granola bread
Prep time: 10 minutes
Cook time: 40 minutes
Makes: 1 two pound loaf
1 1/2 cups granola
1/4 cup chia seeds: optional nutrient boost
1 cup soy, almond or coconut milk
juice from half a lemon
1/2 cup molasses
1/3 cup maple syrup
1 1/2 cups whole wheat pastry four
1 cup shredded unsweetened coconut
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
Preheat oven to 350F. Lightly grease a 8 1/2 x 4 1/2 x 2 1/2 inch loaf pan.
In a medium bowl combine cereal, chia seeds, milk, lemon, molasses and syrup. Let sit for at least five minutes so that the granola and chia seeds soften.
In a large bowl whisk together flour, coconut, baking soda and salt. Add in the wet ingredients and stir until the dry ingredients are just moistened.
Pour the mix into the prepared loaf pan and bake for 40 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool on a wire rack and refrigerate overnight before serving, if your kiddos can wait.
It's time to get back on track after eating pumpkin pie for the last three days. So here's what we ate this morning, and the kiddos loved it.
Around here we are big berry fans, but during the winter good berries are pretty rare. So here's a tip to keep berries, which are full of vitamin C and antioxidants, in your kids diets. Keep a bag of frozen berries in the freezer for a healthy addition to muffins, yogurt, tarts and smoothies all year long. Then you're not buying berries that taste sub-par and come from half way across the globe.
I prefer whole wheat flour in my muffins, then it's a snack that I'm happy letting my kids have seconds (or thirds, in the case of these muffins). Compared to white flour, whole wheat flour has significantly more fiber, protein, iron, calcium and selenium. This difference is due to the fact that all of the wheat grain is used to make whole wheat flour whereas in white flour the bran, germ and endosperm are typically removed.
The key to using whole wheat flour is keeping it fresh and making sure you have enough liquid ingredients. For the first part of this keep your flour in the fridge or freezer, depending on the frequency of use, as opposed to on the counter where it will get stale faster. Stale flour results in dry baked goods. As for the liquid addition, I always add 1/2 cup of plain yogurt to keep my muffins from getting a dense, gritty taste. If you follow these tips you can sneak in more whole grain goodness into your kids snacks without them even knowing the difference.
I also like to sneak in a few more good-for-you foods, like wheat germ in this case. Wheat germ is full of great nutrients like vitamin E, B vitamins, zinc, magnesium, iron and protein. And it's pretty concentrated stuff; in 2 tablespoons you get 15% of your daily allotment of vitamin E.
So hopefully these muffins will help you get the family back on track and eating healthy after a delicious, though probably a bit gluttonous Thanksgiving. Enjoy!
Whole wheat strawberry muffins
Prep time: 10 minutes
Cook time: 20 minute
Makes: 12 muffins
2 cups whole wheat flour
1/2 cup evaporated cane juice sugar (I got this from Trader Joe's)
3 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons wheat germ
1 cup milk
4 tablespoons melted butter
1/2 cup yogurt
1 cup chopped frozen strawberries, unthawed
Preheat oven to 425F. Lightly grease a muffin pan or line it with cupcake liners.
Mix together dry ingredients (all ingredients prior to milk) in a medium mixing bowl. Whisk together milk, egg, butter and yogurt. Make a well in the center of your dry ingredients and pour in the wet ingredients. Add in the chopped strawberries, then mix together until batter is lumpy. Make sure not to over mix.
Cook for 20 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. let cool, then serve.
So I thought that I was near the end of my pumpkin recipes. But then we went to Trader Joe's and my daughter immediately threw a can of pumpkin puree into the cart. What could I do? She was making a healthy food choice completely on her own volition. I'm a real sucker for this sort of thing. I've came home with brussle sprout stalks, eggplants (totally not a fan of) and silken tofu (again, not a fan of) because of this weakness. So we ended up with more pumpkin, and therefore I have another vitamin A
laden snack for you all.In full disclosure this is not my original idea, but an adaptation from a recipe off of carrots n chocolate. That is a great blog that I really enjoy, so check it out when you have a chance.Regardless of all the pumpkin recipes lately I think that you'll still like this recipe. It's a creation that is laden with good things, like wheat germ and whole grain benefits, pumpkin goodness and calcium. It's also still really tasty, as evidenced by my kids gobbling them down today for breakfast, while hiking this afternoon and as a snack.Just a word of warning, the lack of fat in these can make them stick to the wrapper. Some ways of getting around that are spraying down the wrapper with non-stick cooking spray, letting them cool thoroughly for most of the day before eating, or just dealing with this minor issue. Either way you will be adding some great things to your kids diets while avoiding white flour and refined sugar, which is a great way to get the empty calories out of your kids diets in my book. Enjoy!Pumpkin breakfast muffinsPrep time: 10 minutesCook time: 22-25 minutesMakes
: 24 muffins1/2 cup honey1/4 cup room temperature butter1/2 cup apple sauce1 cup granola
(I used pumpkin flax)1 can pumpkin1 egg1 cup vanilla yogurt1 3/4 cups whole wheat flour1/4 cup wheat germ1 tablespoon pumpkin pie spice1/4 teaspoon salt2 teaspoons baking sodamore granola for sprinkling
Preheat oven to 350F.Cream together honey, butter
, apple sauce and granola. Add in pumpkin, egg and yogurt and mix well.In a separate bowl, mix flour, germ, spice, salt and soda. Make a pit in the center, then add the wet ingredients and mix until combines, but be careful not to over mix.Add cupcake liners to a cupcake pan. Fill with batter 2/3 to 3/4 full.
Sprinkle on more granola. Cook for 22-25 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool completely before serving.Related Reading:
Here's a great way to sneak more whole grains into your kids diets- make a smoothie. They won't even know it's there and they will be enjoying a snack that has lots of fiber, phosphorus, selenium, manganese and protein
.The inspiration behind this smoothie is granola, another great snack.
Essentially granola is made out of rolled oats, almonds, honey or maple syrup and coconut. Sure there are some other things you can throw in, like additional seeds and nuts, but that's the basic recipe. So I took those basics and turned them into a smoothie. The oats
need to be soaked in vanilla almond milk for at least 10 minutes prior to blending so that they can soften. Almond milk has become pretty ubiquitous the last couple of years, so you should be able to find it in the dairy section of your grocery store. You can use sweetened or unsweetened, but just keep that in mind when you add the honey. Otherwise this recipe is pretty easy, just pop it in the blender, puree and, viola, you have a granola smoothie.
Enjoy!Blueberry granola smoothiesPrep: 5 minutes, after soaking oatsServes: 3-41 cup vanilla almond milk1/2 cup quick rolled oats1/4 cupped unsweetened shredded coconut1 cup blueberries1 tablespoon honey12 ice cubesSoak oats and coconut in almond milk for 10 minutes in the refrigerator.Combine soaked oats with the rest of the ingredients in the blender. Blend until smooth. Serve immediately.