I enjoy making muffins. Muffins are low-key, self-satisfying little cups of deliciousness that store well, trot along in a knapsack for later and fit perfectly in kid-type hands. An adventurous parent can easily decrease the sugar and increase the fruit content to produce something more nutritious than the traditional store-bought version. A few years ago I threw some ingredients together from my eclectic pantry, substituting sunflower seeds for walnuts, (school-safe) applesauce for oil, and when the aroma from the oven filled our little home with warmth, I knew I had the morning glory muffins I had always wanted.
The challenge with feeding children, particularly children we would like to keep healthy and eating their fruits and vegetables, is keeping them interested. ‘An apple a day’ is indeed a portable and healthy staple for your child’s snack, but if you don’t add a sparkle of creativity, your best intentions might end up in the teacher’s garbage bin. So, what to do?
What we need are a few healthy snack ideas. I have ideas. It’s like food magic over here, I tell you.
Ants on a Log: Remember that childhood favourite healthy snack (yours not mine – celery and I don’t get along)? A smear of peanut butter down a stalk of celery and you mustn’t forget the “ants”: Plump raisins. If this healthy snack will be making its way to school, you should swap out the p.b. for some pea butter – I like No Nuts Golden Pea Butter.
Dried Fruit/Seed Mix: A few dried apricots or even papaya as a healthy snack will satisfy a child’s sweet tooth and tide them over for a while. Dried fruit packs a high caloric and fibre punch which is too much for a child’s system. One cup of unsweetened, dried apricots hides 8 grams of fibre and 200 calories, that may not seem like a lot but the average 9 year old girl needs only 1600 calories a day.
Peanut Butter Banana Sushi: For this snack you will need one whole wheat wrap, peanut butter and one banana. Spread the peanut butter across the wrap, place the peeled banana near the bottom of the wrap. Roll tightly and slice with a sharp knife. Ta da!
Hummus and Veggies: There are so many healthy snack possibilities with hummus. You can have straight up traditional garlic hummus or this Sweet Pea version.
Happy Face Plate: Not nearly as fast food as it sounds. Look around the kitchen for various fruits; pineapple, bananas, raisins, grapes and apples work best. A cheeky apple slice doubles as a tongue! Kiwi slices and berries make some ultra fancy eyes!
Aside: Make a fruit dip out of Greek yogurt. Stir in a teaspoon of cinnamon or jam to plain yogurt, in the end you’ll still be better off sugar-wise than buying flavoured.
Popcorn!: Store in an airtight container and it’s a lovely healthy treat in a lunchbox for an unsuspecting child who has no idea mom has topped it with nutritional yeast so it tastes cheesy but is both vegetarian-friendly and packed with vitamins. Bonus points for air popping.
There is a reoccurring theme to these snacks; each can packaged and sent off to school with the kids, with minor modifications. Keep in mind that most schools are nut-free these days and to protect other children in the classroom (and save your kid’s lunch), follow the modifications. Have fun with it. Most children are pickers and will snack on foods instead of eating a huge meal; totally go with that and give them healthy snacks with a nutritional punch.