So I still have pumpkin pie on the brain.
I'm guessing that will last until the day after Thanksgiving. But seeing as pumpkin is so good for you, I figure it's not a bad craving. Just to re-cap from my last post
, here are some of the nutritional benefits from pumpkins:-280% of your daily vitamin A in one serving (keep in mind this is even higher for kiddos)
-Rich in antioxidants and B complex vitamins
-Minerals like phosphorous, calcium (both great for growing bones), copper and potassium.I have made date-nut energy bars in the past, but this time around I wanted to go for something that was bite-sized and easy to coat with crushed high fructose-free graham crackers
(for extra yummy potential). After I processed my ingredients I just rolled 1 inch balls of date mix. You can also press your mix into a parchment lined baking pan to make squares or bars, but personally I like the bite-sized versions.
An added bonus to the tiny, easy to handle size is that my uber drooling, cranky, teething toddler has been almost living on these since he is having a hard time eating anything besides ice cubes and frozen yogurt tubes. So if you've introduced nuts into your toddlers diets, then these are a great, easy to chew, snack for them too.Enjoy!Pumpkin pie energy bitesTotal time: 5 minutesMakes: 16 x 1" bites1 cup pitted dates1/2 cup pecans1/4 cup pumpkin puree3/4 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice3 crushed graham crackers
Place graham crackers into a bag and crush them finely with the end of a rolling pin.
Process dates, pecans, pumpkin and spice in a processor for about a minute until ingredients are well-combined.
Then roll 1" inch balls, Drop balls onto a plate with crushed graham crackers and coat evenly. Let set up in the fridge for a ~ 1 hour. Store leftovers in the fridge in an airtight container.
Whoo hoo- the Spring semester is finally over! For the last two weeks all my spare time has been devoted to grading, working, quizzing, more grading.. but now my grades have been submitted to the college and I can get back my favorite (though certainly less profitable) thing- thinking about snacks. And I now have a new snacker to consider- my toddling one year old.
My kids go to a daycare that doesn't provide food, thus I need to pack lunches and keep my baby's snack cubby stocked. I prefer it this way- I know that they are getting a balanced, processed foods-free meal and I can tell how much they ate when I open their lunch boxes at the end of the day. But I haven't packed toddler snacks in a few years, so I'm currently on the prowl for foods that are toddler friendly but can also double as a great snack for my four year old. Call me cheap, but I don't buy food just for babies, I think that it's a needless and expensive market aimed at emptying your wallet. There are plenty of foods available at the grocery store that are great for toddlers and tasty for the rest of the family too.
That all being said, have you tried Pirate Booty? My daughter loves the name and these rice/corn puffs dissolve readily in your mouth, making for a great snack for a toddler that's not well versed in chewing. They are made from corn meal and rice and don't have additives or fillers like a lot of other crunchy snacks. Even my husband and I love the stuff, so it's definitely family friendly.
For my babies weekly snack I packed a tupperware with pirate booty and snapea crisps. Once again, these snap peas are tasty for everyone but can dissolve easily. Since they are made from peas they have protein, vitamin C, calcium and iron. so not only are they good for your kids, they are also fun to eat and not bitter like peas can sometimes be.
I hope that your family enjoys this tasty combo.
Snap pea booty
Prep time: seconds
In a bowl combine 2 cups pirate booty (any flavor will do) with 1 cup snap pea crisps (again, any flavor works). Enjoy!
Sweet potatoes are practically a necessity around here with my baby. He loves them, and I can definitely see the appeal or these sweet vegetables. Not only do they taste great, but they are also full of a whole host of vitamins and nutrients. They have as many carotenoids as carrots, which help stabilize blood sugar so your kids don't have low blood sugar meltdowns (i.e. less tantrums). Furthermore they have tons of vitamin A, vitamin C, potassium and fiber. They are also a natural anti-inflammatory and full of anti-oxidants.
At my market when I buy potatoes that are labeled "sweet potatoes" they have white flesh, looking a lot like a regular potato. The color of a sweet potato correlates with the level of carotenoids- the more orange it is the higher the carotenoid content. Thus you want to buy ones that have orange flesh. At my store these are called Jewel Yams. These are actually sweet potatoes despite their name. In fact you cannot get yams at a regular store here in the U.S., so anything that you see labeled as a yam is actually just a different variety of a sweet potato. But they have that great orange interior, so I recommend buying them so that you're sure that you're getting that blast of carotenoids in your kids diets.
Sometimes you need some fat to absorb certain types of vitamins. These are called fat soluble vitamins, meaning that they dissolve in fats so that your body can then absorb them. Without that fat, these vitamins won't get taken up by the body. Sweet potatoes have lots of vitamin A, but you need that fat in order to absorb it. So here's a recipe that uses olive oil so that you can be assured that your kids will get the full vitamin entourage in their snack.
Orange Sweet Potato Fries
Prep: 5 minutes
Cook time: 5-10 minutes
Serves: 4 (depends on how big your potato is)
1 large Jewel Yam, cut into french fry straws
1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon orange rind
salt and pepper to taste
Preheat oven to 400F.
Arrange your sweet potatoes on a large baking tray. Drizzle on olive oil, then add spices. Using your hands, toss to mix. Then arrange fries in a single layer on your tray. Bake for 12-15 minutes or until fries are tender, tossing half way through the cooking process to insure even browning.
A nice, creamy glass of kefir
Pepsi is getting into the snack business, and no it won't be with Pepsi smoothies, although I wonder what that would entail. Pepsi is testing a pureed fruit drink called Tropolis. These drinks will consist of fruit purees that will be targeted towards kids. Sounds like an interesting name, but I'm hoping that high fructose corn syrup won't be included in the ingredients list.
Lately there has been a massive increase in snacks that your kids can drink. It started several years ago with go-gurt, which usually ended up squeezed all over the carpet, and has now ballooned into an industry. The baby food aisle is inundated with fruit and veggie drink pouches. I will freely admit to buying drinkable apple sauce, and I am not against drinkable fruit purees by any means, but I want to expand upon our options.
1. Kefir- This is a milk-cousin of yogurt that is incredibly thick and creamy. Not only is it an ultimate smoothy, it is also chalked full of probiotics, protein, calcium and B vitamins. Originated in Turkey, kefir is the product of milk that is treated with kefir grains. The result is full of bacterial cultures that can actually colonize the GI system (hence why it is so great for upset tummies) and beneficial yeasts the combat pathogenic varieties.
2. Yogurt smoothies: These have become much more common within the last few years. Once again, they have probiotics, protein and calcium. They are also easily available in most supermarkets. Just make sure that you watch the sugar. some have a lot more than others.
3. Milks: As any mother of a toddler knows, milk is food. But nowadays there are so many different types of milk to choose from:
-Cow's milk: There's a reason this is an old standby. Most kids love it (although lactose tolerance is a potential issue), it's low in sugar and full or calcium and protein.
-Soy milk: This is great alternative for kids that are lactose sensitive. Some kids even prefer it because it is sweetened with cane sugar and thus tastes sweeter than regular milk. It's also enriched so it typically has more calcium than regular milk. It also doesn't have as many endogenous growth hormones as cow's milk. But it does have phytoestrogens (plant estrogens) and less fat, so you might want to regulate how much your kids drink. I mix it half and half with cow's milk for my little girl as a happy compromise.
-Almond milk: Again, this is a good alternative for children that are lactose intolerant. It is also enriched so it has calcium, but it also has it's own minerals (manganese, selenium and vitamin E). It is palatable but make sure to double check the ingredients; some of them have a lot of additives to make them taste creamier.
I have also seen several other types of milk (rice, hemp, etc) but they aren't nearly as appealing to young children. Hemp milk, in particular, tastes incredibly earthy while rice milk does not have enough fat for growing bodies.
4. Juice smoothies: The most popular of these include Odwalla (owned by Coke) and Naked Juice (ownd by Pepsi, and now we've come full circle). These can be a fun treat and are full of a variety of fruits, but watch the sugar and the calories. They can be pretty high, and most of the time they are only listed for half a bottle so you'll have to double it.
I hope that this list expands your inventory of snacks your kids can drink. They're convenient, no mess (spills notwithstanding) and satisfying, so while your kids have a snack and you won't be stuck in the kitchen cleaning up.
So after my post about the 10 best foods I decided to revisit Wasa crackers
. I've bought them before, but it was during Liam's first few months and though I remember we polished off the box, that's about all that I recall. What can I say, sleep deprivation is a real brain drain.Wasa crackers are rye crackers that have a lot of fiber while also being low calorie. They also have negligible sugar and pretty wholesome ingredients. With regards to actual taste they are incredibly light, porous and crunchy. We had them with hummus, and even though I make a mean hummus, the crackers in and of themselves were a big hit. Then for the wild card test. I pulled out a cracker and gave it to my toothless eight month old. He conducted the "bang it against the tray" test a few times. Satisfied with this preliminary data he then went in for a taste. Success- he loved it and ate three more over the course of the day. So not only are these crackers good for you, appealing to adults and kids alike, they are also baby approved. Now that's a versatile snack.
My sister has a two month old and asked me to post more snacks for babies and toddlers so that way she has something to reference when she starts feeding her little one solids. I already have a post on making your own baby food, but I thought that I should also record my old standby- apple sauce. Both my kids love it, it's incredibly easy to make, you can use it in other recipes as a natural means of cutting the amount of butter you need or to sweeten a dish, you can control if its organic and keep it sugar free, and finally you can get rid of unwanted apples. Now I know that's a long list, but hopefully it conveys why apple sauce is such a fantastic food to keep handy. And I am sure that anyone who reads this blog with some regularity knows that I also love apples, They're cheap, they're easily transportable, they have tons of uses as an ingredient and they help regulate blood sugar so that your kids won't have the spikes and lulls that sometimes accompanies a sweet snack.
Most other recipes call for a seive or a mill to make smooth apple sauce. I just use a food processor because I don't have either of those items in my kitchen. In addition it's best to limit the amount of water that you initially put into your saucepan since the apples will give off liquid as they cook. If you end up with too much liquid and have to drain a bunch of it, you are actually draining out vitamins that were released during the cooking process. Finally if you are going to puree something that's been cooked, it's best to do it while your dish is still hot. The heat makes the consistancy smoother.
Home made apple sauce
Prep time: 5 minutes
Cook time: 30 minutes (20 cooking, 10 resting)
4 large apples, peeled, cored and chopped into ~1 inch cubes
1 tablspoon water
Put the apples and water into a large saucepan and cook at medium-low heat. Once you hear the water start to boil, cover the pan so that the apples steam. Let cook for 20 minutes or until the apples are very fork tender. Then turn off the heat and let the apples sit for 10 minutes so that most of the water is reabsorbed.
Pour the contents, still hot, into the food processor. Puree until apples are at your desired consistancy (chunkier for older kids, smooth for babies). Makes ~2 cups, or 4 1/2 cup servings.
You can make variations of the above recipe by adding a cinnamon stick to the saucepan (remove before processing), adding seedless berries in the last 5 minutes of cooking, or including pears or diced carrots for the entire cooking duration. It all depends on how adventurous your kids are.
Finally, one of our favorite ways to eat apple sauce is to mix it, in equal proportions, with plain greek yogurt for a creamy snack. This is especially good for kids that are having GI problems, since the apples are mild on their systems and the probiotics in the yogurt will help their digestive tract.
Good luck, let me know if you try any other variations!
In the wake of the Similac formula recall I thought I'd make a post about making your own baby food. I know that's not really a kid's snack, but healthy babies will eventually turn into healthy kids. With this formula recall we are reminded of the benefits of breastfeeding, however since that's not always an option for all mothers I want to focus on the next step, giving your baby healthy foods when they are ready.
I have a 5 month old baby boy who's been on rice cereal for a little while now. He's been eating a probiotic blend because he has a sensitive GI system. That being said I decided to make his first few baby foods so that I know how they are made and exactly what goes into them.
As noted in the getting kids to eat fruits and veggies
article, the way that you cook vegetables and fruits effects the amount of nutrients post cooking. Microwaving is best, followed by steaming. Boiling and baking are less desirable since boiling leaches out a lot of vitamins and minerals while higher temperature required in baking breaks them down. There are soft foods that don't require coking, like bananas and avocados, but after that you will have to soften harder fruits and vegetables.After softening your desired food, puree them in a food processor. Pour the puree into an ice cube tray and then freeze the cubes for at least an hour. After they are solidified then place them into a labeled ziplock bag. My little boy eats two thawed cubes per dinner, but it all depends on your babies eating habits. Viola, dinner is served to your miniature kiddo.