Wednesday, April 13, 2011

attack of the snack apple a day...
apple a day...

Let's talk about snacks. 
I am a big fan. Especially when I'm training for something I am aaaaaaallllways hungry. 
And of course, children are hungry all hours of the day.

For me, pre-baby snacking was never really something I put thought into--I was usually too busy to find something to eat, or I just ate whatever I could quickly find. 

But when you are a new mom, with a new baby, that soon turns in to a wee person who needs snacks all day, it's easy to look to the center aisles of the grocery store for anything labeled "snack". Packaged perfectly in portions for pint sized little hands. (sometimes I cannot resist a little alliteration in my life). You are bombarded with coupons and advertisements for snacks, and since their packagages boast something about kids, or toddlers, or fortified with something amazing for your growing child, you quickly grab it off the shelf.

Let me tell you a secret. Kids don't need any kind of special "kid" snacks.....they can eat the same thing YOU are eating. Really! For the most part anything labeled with the word "snack" in the store is probably not that good for you, your child, your great aunt, or anyone else you may be feeding.

So rather than wasting your money, and filling your body with packages loaded with "fortified" (note: I have an upcoming post planned on why the word fortified drives me crazy, and misleading package labels) empty calories, 
here are a few of our favorite snacks.

fruit. easy as that. this time of year there are new choices coming into season every few weeks! Grab something new and try it out for a healthy snack.
vegetables. plant a small garden to get your kids excited about eating their veggies 
(check out this post, as well as all the comments, for ideas on how to get your kids to try new things)
roasted broccoli

hummus + veggies/crackers/pita chips
peanut butter + banana
nuttella + .........anything
cheese and crackers (this is a favorite of ours, and the possible combinations are endless!)
"trail mix" (whatever nuts+dried fruit you have on hand + a few chocolate chips) here we have almonds+dried cranberries+chocolate chips
dried fruit
our homemade larabars (here and here)
homemade popcorn (the EASIEST) snack you could make. Buy some popcorn kernels and follow the instructions on the label. I'll blog it next time we have it, but it's super easy to figure out, promise.

And when you're running around and need snacks on the go:
-string cheese
-I love a lot of Annie's products (the bunny crackers are our favorite)
-Barbara's products
-fruit leather (we get a big box at Costco....I'm unsure of the brand right now but they are tasty and have no added sugar)
roasted broccoli

Here's a quick dish that can be eaten as a snack, an easy side dish, or.....both. It is so simple and tasty, and there are excactly 1000 different ways to do it.

Roasted Broccoli

Toss broccoli pieces with a few drizzles of olive oil until coated, and sprinkle with a bit of salt.
Spread onto a baking sheet, and roast at 450° for 30-45 minutes.

Add a few squeezes of lemon and enjoy.

other options:
-mince a garlic clove or two and toss with the broccoli
-add crushed red chili flakes
-add cauliflower to the mix
-toss with your favorite italian dressing or vinaigrette
-top with parmesan cheese
roasted broccoli

If you're are reading this saying "but my kids only like fruit snacks", let me say this.
Just don't buy them.

If I handed my kids a box of fruit snacks right now, I would bet you a bazillion dollars that they would eat the entire box. They would--what kid doesn't like fruit snacks? So I just don't buy them. Between school and friends' houses, I'm certain they will not be fruit snack deprived.

Instead we buy different kinds of dried fruit (dried mangos, cherries, blueberries, apricots.....anything. Bulk sections are great!), that they think is a huge treat. Yes most have added sugar, but this is a much better option than fruit snacks. Because really, what are those?

Maybe your kids love Gogurt. 
Just buy real yogurt--plain or vanilla, and let them choose what fruit to mix in. This cuts the sugar way down (especially if you use plain yogurt), and real fruit beats out artificial fruit flavoring any day.

So let's play a little game. I will try my best to help you out if you have something you or your kids love, but want to switch out for a better, healthier option--I'll tell you what I would switch it out with.....I'll leave my suggestions in the comments.

Your challenge this week is to try a new snack--make something easy like popcorn or trailmix, or swap out one of your favorites for a better option.

And I would love to hear YOUR favorite snacks!

happy snacking.


kristen said...

I love this. Totally need to try harder with my kids and stop buying fruit snacks! I agree there should be no such thing as "kid" food. The thing I struggle with is making all these important changes and your friends/family thinking you're a crazy "organic" weirdo because you don't want to eat bologna and go to mcdonalds all the time. How do you teach them and deal with that? Thanks.

Bridget said...

yes yes yes! love this: Kids don't need any kind of special "kid" snacks.....they can eat the same thing YOU are eating.

so true.

before dinner is when mine are always getting squirrely and dinners not yet ready... so they get a bowl of carrots and some annie's ranch on it.

and wheneeeever they're telling me 'im hungry' fruit is my go to. have you tried larabars? they're awesome too.

whitneyingram said...

Edamame with some kosher salt. It's delicious and fun to get out of the shell.

Unknown said...

im guilty of getting fruit snacks every once in a while-and tend to finish them off myself if i get a chance.

a lot of great snacks I have found in the sprouts snack section. my daughter loves a lot of the yogurt covered raisens, dried fruit, and all the nuts.. they are all really easy to take around anywhere.

we also loves spinach smoothies, kale chips, carrots are our favorite snack, cereal, and homemade granola. we love it all!

Kaitlyn Luce said...

Yes yes yes! PB&banana, PB&apple. Those are my faves.

I've never tired carrots and PB. I'll have to try it out.

tanalicious said...

have you seen the recipe for homemade fruitsnacks on skip to my lou? it uses jello and unflavored gelatin, but i'm sure you could just use all unflavored gelatin and fruit juice. my kids like them just fine..

yesterday i made granola (to go with the yogurt!!!) and i wanna try making my own fruit leather. i've got a recipe. i'll find it and send it to you, although, im sure you already have one..

Unknown said...

These are great snack tips for grown-ups too. But like you said, kids and adults can eat the same thing. I'm always looking for good snack and lunch ideas to take with me to work.

Great post.

melissa said...

ha, "kid snacks" are so weird. i don't even buy "baby food" so when "kid snacks" come along calvy will surely survive without them.

i eat a lot of apples & cheese or pb for snacks and so will he.

Anonymous said...

wonderful post! edamame beans are one of my favorite snacks! i'm surprised you guys eat nutella. that stuff is dangerous! ;)

Rachael said...

What you said about a garden getting kids to eat veggies- so true! I can't wait to see my son pulling sugar snap peas off the vine and eating them as he plays like last summer.

That said, sometimes he's not a great eater. It's not about what he'll eat, but how he won't sit still for a meal. On those days, rather than spend an entire day arguing over it, we put together a snack plate that stays on the tablee - cut fruit and veggies, crackers, toast, or tortilla slices, ranch dip, cheese cubes and whatever else might be lurking in the fridge- and he grazes all day. It kills the arguments or meals and keeps him eating healthy!

Amelia PS said...

love the roasted broccoli...

My kids also like crunchy, fresh veggies like fennel bulb, cucumber, and zucchini

Lula. said...

(except right now i am snacking on a handful of jelly beans--- and hiding from my children. oops)

Rachael said...

Great ideas! Not just for kids, for adults too! I for one, am someone who eats 'bad' food a lot. And I really need to stop.
One thing though, I love fruit, but I hate that they go bad really fast. Maybe dried fruit lasts longer?
Love the new look of your site by the way! The header and little details...nice.

Ang said...

a hard boiled egg - quick & packed full of protein + nutrients. they're perfect for eating on the go and keep for up to a week in the fridge (so you can make a "batch" at a time if that's easier)

also, sometimes i mix a handful of pretzels with some chopped up dark chocolate - if you like sweet and salty, you'll LOVE this snack! said...

What a wonderful collection of snacks! Mine would be almonds, pumpkin seeds, chia seed pudding, and any and every fruit.

Meg said...

My go-to snacks are either a banana or wheat saltines. Neither are my favorite, but I always seem to have those on hand when I need a boost.

Heather Mattern said...

oooooooh that broccoli looks amazing!

Unknown said...

i'm so with you on these, there are some crazy products out there for kids.
speaking of homemade popcorn, i am posting a super easy popcorn method tomorrow for zupas on using a paper bag in the microwave. be sure to check it out. it's the easiest thing on the planet.

Lauren Missamore said...

Lately, I've been trying to come up with some green snacks. Otherwise I find myself indulging on walnuts, or a flat of strawberries. Which are delicious, one can't lie, but sometimes you gotta keep with the greens. Otherwise you get that overload of (healthy) fats, and sugars. I like to opt for a green smoothie, whole wheat toast with basil, tomatoes and sea salt or a bagel with spinach, sprouts, tomato, and avocado. Do you have any other tasty ideas?

Oh and I loooooove your page. It is quite adorable! I'm sure you hear it all of the time. But it is beyond true!

jenniferhoiyin said...

we love everything you mentioned, all except the cheese, for dairy allergy reasons. we also like to munch on edamame, flavored nori, and rice cakes. that sounds so asian.

We also love pretzels with a peanut butter/honey/coconut mixture in between. Perfect for road trips, not that we go on many.

sheena said...

Kristen-ha! crazy organic weirdo.....I love it!

The good thing is, most likely all your changes won't come at once. It has taken me years to get to where we are today--and I'm always looking for ways to improve still.

So rather than becoming a weirdo overnight:), they'll have a chance to get used to it slowly. And hopefully some of your healthy habits can rub off on them! It's a really sad world we live in that good eating habits are so easily made fun of--but it's so true.

Just work on food in your own house, and fingers crossed they start to notice!

sheena said...

Kate! I only get Nutella for a treat for the kids--I actually don't love it that much (don't tell:), so peanut butter is a much bigger danger to me!
but boy do they loooove Nutella and apples.

Kaylynn said...

The thing that has worked best for me is that my kids know that whatever is in the "fruit bowl" is fair game. They never have to ask (even if it is right before dinner) I keep it stocked with those little apples in the cheap bags. Bananas, almonds, baggies of cranberries, etc. They love the control that they have in being able to get what they want anytime they want it. It works for our family.

Colleen said...

You said it perfectly. Kids don't need all those special snacks. Those snacks are just marketing at its finest.

My little one thinks smoothies are the best treat ever, which is great considering that I sneak greens into it. We use homemade plain yogurt, frozen blueberries, a banana, and whatever else needs to be used out of the fridge. She loves them!

AnnieB said...

Sheena, found your blog today through the KSL link posted on Iris & Light's FB. Can I just say, the cake looks decadent and oh so good. I'm like you...I try to eat healthy and avoid processed foods as much as possible, but when I splurge, I splurge.

Another tip on the yogurt front. I also buy the plain yogurt and then mix in my daughter's favorite flavor of Smuckers Simply Fruit jam. Not sugar free--don't like the chemical sweeteners--but the jam that is sweetened only by fruit syrup. Good stuff...and oh, so much better than Gogurt. As Michael Pollan (In Defense of Food) says, "If your great grandmother wouldn't recognize it, don't buy it."

Leanne said...

You've inspired me. I just added "dried fruit" to my shopping list for tomorrow. I've got a 10 month old who's really digging finger foods right now...I've made all her baby food at home up till this point, but have struggled with finding portable, endurable, to-go snack foods that are also healthy (I admit she's just been eating that fortified packaged puff stuff, haha). Dried fruit! Ta-da! You've done it again--thanks!

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