Creative after-school snack options
That's the comment my son makes just about everyday after school. And I'm finding it especially hard to find something that would be sort of good for him, not completely ruin his dinner appetite and is easy to prepare.
I've found that by letting him get in on the preparation a couple of things usually happen. When the treat is one that has to be frozen, by the time we get through preparing the recipe he's usually over having that "hungry" feeling. The other thing that happens it that he feels a sense of accomplishment and will happily eat his concoction, even if it has broccoli in it.
The recipes I've selected for this week's column will help to fill the bill on those afternoons when your young ones come in saying "I'm hungry". Some are very old and some are new twists on old ideas. At any rate, by making these snacks at home, you have the ability to cut down or completely eliminate the fat, sugar and salt content of what your child eats.
The first recipe is one that will take a little time to prepare. It's best to plan ahead for this one. Maybe after the dinner dishes and the homework are done, your little chefs could head to the kitchen to prepare for the next days treats.
Applesauce on a Stick
One-half cup unsweetened pineapple juice
3 medium apples unpeeled cored and cut up
One-fourth teaspoon cinnamon
One-half cup dark raisins
1 tbsp. sugar or to taste
Process apples, juice, cinnamon and raisins in blender or food processor until smooth; add sugar to taste. It will taste less sweet when frozen. Spoon into 3-4 ounce paper or plastic cups or frozen sucker molds. Place in freezer. When partially frozen, insert a stick in each cup and finish freezing.
Most children (and grown folk) like to dip fresh veggies in a Ranch-style dip. The bottled kind or the containers found in the dairy section of the grocery store tend to be very high in calories, fat and sodium. By using the following recipe, you can cut down on all of those things. The recipe calls for mayonnaise. To further cut down on the fat content of this recipe, use the low-fat or fat-free variety of mayonnaise.
Easy Ranch Dip
Three-fourths cup plain yogurt
One-third cup mayonnaise
1 (1 ounce) package ranch dressing mix
1 tbsp. chopped fresh parsley (optional)
In a medium-size mixing bowl, blend yogurt, mayonnaise, and ranch dressing mix. Mix well with a wire whisk. Cover and refrigerate overnight. Sprinkle with parsley before serving.
Here's an old favorite. I believe they used to serve these in the lunchroom (minus the raisins) when I was in school. We won't even talk about how long ago that was. This recipe can be jazzed up in a million different ways. The celery, of course, offers the crunch that kids are looking for in a snack. The peanut butter is a great source of protein and is sweet as a bonus. I can remember that sometimes the peanut butter would be mixed with a little jelly before being spooned into that crunchy cradle. I have had the celery "logs" served filled with pimento cheese. Pretty good, if my memory serves me. You can probably come up with some other variations that your children would like.
Ants on a Log
5 stalks celery
One-half cup peanut butter
One-fourth cup raisins
Cut the celery stalks in half. Spread with peanut butter. Sprinkle with raisins.
If you trust your older children with a toaster oven or toasting in the regular oven, this next recipe can be a great treat. If you're not worried so much about fat in this recipe, you could lay a slice of American or cheddar cheese on top the apple before toasting.
1 tablespoon butter
4 slices white or whole wheat bread
1 tablespoon cinnamon
1 large apple, cored and thinly sliced
Set oven to broil. Spread butter on one side of each slice of bread. Place apple slices on buttered side of bread. Sprinkle cinnamon on top. Place bread on a baking sheet. Place in a preheated oven until toasted, about 2 minutes.
This last recipe is one that I'm sure we would all enjoy. It's relatively inexpensive and not too bad as far as fat content goes. I'm not sure if they make a low-fat chocolate chip, but if they don't and you're concerned about fat, you could eliminate the chocolate and put raisins instead.
1 cup dried banana chips
1 cup flaked coconut
1 cup chocolate chips
3 cup Cheerios (or other oat cereal)
Mix all ingredients in a gallon sized plastic bag. Shake well.
Check here next week if you're still looking for some tips on helping steer tiny appetites away from high-calorie, high-fat and high-sugar snacks. I have come across some other ideas that may be of assistance in that area.
Remember to ask for help in finding a lost recipe or to share a new one, simply send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org. I'm happy to help.
Until next week, Happy Cooking!!!