I've been under a real time crunch to get an after school snack on the table ASAP. I have a brand new kindergartener and she is hungry by the time she gets home from a long day at school. So here's a quick snack that takes about 5 minutes and is way better than store bough alternatives.Did you know that popcorn has antioxidants? True story, and I've yet to meet a kid that doesn't love the stuff. Popcorn contains antioxidants in the form of polyphenols, and in fact it has half the antioxidant content of walnuts.However if you buy microwave popcorn, you are risking chemical exposure when
perfluorooctanoic acid leaches out of the lining of the bag and into your popcorn during the heating process. This chemical accumulates in the body and has been shown to cause cancer in animal studies. But if you pop it yourself (trust me, it's really easy and kind of fun)
you are avoiding that risk. In addition you're also able to control the amount of salt and butter (which is synthesized with a chemical that has been implicated in lung disease) that your kids are eating.So here's a little way to flavor your home made popcorn that's free of added salt and butter- try olive oil and parmesan cheese.
It's light, satisfying and a natural alternative to the fake butter laden stuff from the grocery store. Enjoy!Olive oil parmesan popcornTotal time: ~ 5 minutesMakes: ~6 cups of popped popcorn3 tablespoons coconut oil1/2 cup popcorn kernels3 tablespoons parmesan cheese1 1/2 tablespoons olive oilIn a wok (my preference) or a heavy bottoms pan heat kernels and coconut oil over medium heat
. Cover with a lid, but make sure to leave a small gap so that steam can escape. Pop, lifting the pan and shaking to redistribute the kernels every minute or so to avoid burning. Once the popping slows down remove from heat and let sit for another minute or so until the popping stops. Then add the cheese and olive oil and mix. Serve immediately.Related reading:
Here's a really quick snack that uses apples, peanut butter (or another nut or seed butter will work, like almond) and granola. In just three ingredients you have these cute little wheels that are also fun to eat. And by combining fruit, peanuts and whole grains you have a really balanced snack with a little more protein and fiber so that your kids will be good to go until the next meal.
Prep time: 5 minutes
Makes: ~ 4 wheels, depending on the size of your apple
1 apple, sliced latitudinally into 1/2 inch slices
2 tablespoons peanut butter
1/4 cup granola
Arrange apples on a plate. Spread on peanut butter and sprinkle with granola. Serve immediately.
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:
As promised here's recipe using the raspberry lime sauce
I made yesterday. Move over ice cream, here's a whole grain way to enjoy this tasty condiment.On that note these bars are made with whole wheat four, oats and nuts. For sweetness I used agave nectar in conjunction with turbinado (raw) sugar
since I had it on hand after using it in my sauce, but again you can use honey instead of the nectar.
I don't normally use sugar, but if it's needed I will use turbinado, which is an unrefined sugar. It has a larger grain and is drier than brown sugar. I'm not a huge brown sugar fan- often it's simply refined white sugar that is then dyed with molasses to make it brown. Warning- these are pretty crumbly. And tasty. I meant to get a few heart cut outs for this picture above but my family ate these too quickly and I only had enough left for one cut out. I hope your kiddos like these as much as mine did!Raspberry crumble barsMakes: 16 barsPrep time: 15 minutesCook time: 50 minutes1 1/2 cups whole wheat pastry flour1 1/4 cups rolled oats1/3 cup turbinado sugar1/4 teaspoon baking soda1/4 teaspoon kosher salt3/4 cups walnuts, chopped1 stick butter, softened and cut into pieces
1/4 cup honey1/2 cup raspberry sauce1/2 cups blackberriesPreheat oven at 350F. Grease a 9x9 inch baking pan.Mix together flour, oats
, sugar, baking soda, salt and nuts. With a pastry blender or two forks mix in butter and nectar until mix is in rough crumbles.Firmly press 2/3 of the mixture into the prepared baking pan. Bake for 20 minutes. While it is baking, mix together raspberry sauce and blackberries. Crush blackberries slightly with a fork. Spread this mixture onto the crust.
Top with the remaining oat mix and bake for an additional 30 minutes, or until the top is golden. Cool completely before cutting.Related reading:
Here's a fun way to replace jam with real fruit and make a pretty cool looking snack- make Pb and fruit rolls. When we first made these my daughter thought that they looked like sushi sandwiches. We had a blast making them, seeing as anything that involves a rolling pin is an automatic bonus in our kitchen.
Depending on where you get your jam, you can sometimes run into artificial sweeteners and way too much sugar in your pb and j's. I've always thought it odd that jam can have high fructose corn syrup or even sugar; fruit by itself is pretty sweet. So instead of overdoing on the sugar-front we used actual fruit, chopped bananas and strawberries to be exact.
As always feel free to use a seed butter or another type of nut butter if peanut butter doesn't work for your kiddos. We switch off between sunflower, peanut and almond butter. Personally I love sunflower butter, it's great alternative for kids with nut allergies and becoming more widely available.
PB and fruit rolls
Prep time: 5 minutes
Makes: 8 rolls
2 slices whole wheat bread
2 tablespoons peanut butter
1/2 cup finely chopped strawberries
1/2 cup finely chopped bananas
Cut the crusts off of the bread. With a rolling pin roll the bread until it is roughly as thick as a slice pita bread.
Spread on peanut butter evenly . Distribute fruit between the slices, leaving 1/2 inch border on one side of the bread, then press fruit down with your palms. Roll tightly, starting with your fruit end and ending with the fruit-free border so that your peanut butter acts as a glue. It should look like a burrito.
Trim off the ends. Then cut into four rolls per bread slice. Serve immediately.
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.
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.
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.
The last time I made Rice Krispy treats, both my daughter and I couldn't eat them. They were too much marshmallow sweetness even for her sugar-crazed palate, and so I sent them off with my husband to work so we wouldn't feel obligated to eat them. But my kids like crisped rice cereal on occasion, so I figured we might as well give it another shot, this time with a little less sugar and a little more good-for-you ingredients.I bought a jar of almond chocolate spread at Trader Joe's, which is essentially an almond rendition of Nutella. You can use Nutella instead
or make your own
chocolate nut butter if you don't have a Trader Joe's nearby. And if you don't want to use chocolate, you can always go with a traditional nut or seed butter, like peanut butter, instead. But either way these rice crisp treats are tasty and better for you than the traditional recipe.You have the option of adding ground flax if you have it on hand. It'll add omega-3 fatty acids, which are a great fat for kids and adults. Just a tip for using flax- you can substitute it in for butter on a lot of recipes thereby cutting out saturated fats and replacing them with healthy fats. Omega-3 fatty acids are essential for good cognitive function, and are also linked with improving mood and important for cellular function. This is an optional addition though, so if you don't have any that's fine.Enjoy!Kiddo rice crispsPrep time: 15 minutesMakes: 15 squares
1/2 cup honey1/2 cup turbinado or raw sugar1 cup chocolate nut butter6 cups crisped rice cereal1/2 cup ground flax optional nutrition boostCombine honey and sugar over medium heat in a small saucepan. Cook until sugar is dissolved.
Add chocolate nut butter to sugar mixture and mix until smooth. Remove from heat.
Add crisped rice and flax (if using) and stir until combined.
Press into a greased 13 x 9 baking dish. Let cool completely to solidify, then serve.