And they thought the cupcakes were chocolate By Sandy De Lisle
Fall soccer season looms and what parent doesn’t enjoy this ritual for so many children? After all, it’s fun to see your child learning the basics of this great sport. You know, dribbling, passing, scoring and snacking. For the uninitiated, the snacking I refer to is the obligatory post-game treat that has become standard in most children’s organized team sports. In fact, most of the teams my kids have played on pass out the Snack Schedule the first day of practice right along with the game schedule. As soon as the Snack Schedule is handed out, I immediately scan it to see when our family is assigned the snack. If I’m lucky, we’ll be at the beginning of the season so I can avoid the worst of the phenomenon known as Snack Escalation. It never fails: The parent who brings the junkiest snack is deemed the coolest (which is, of course, also a reflection upon the coolness of her child) and the ante keeps rising with each subsequent week. One season, a parent who had the last snack assignment felt such Snack Pressure that she provided very expensive bakery cookies made in the likeness of our team’s mascot along with a can of soda for each child. She won the Snack Competition hands down. Kids were still talking about her snack the following season. I’m embarrassed to say that before I understood the rules of the Snack Competition I actually--cringe with me--brought carrots and water for snack. I bet the kids were still talking about that the next season, too. I know, I know, a major faux pas. It’s just that so many of the games fall before mealtimes and I didn’t want to spoil anyone’s lunch or dinner. I now understand that mealtimes are not to be taken into consideration when selecting a snack. Yet another concern that you must throw aside is the overrated declaration that there is a nationwide epidemic of childhood obesity and poor nutrition. The alarmists who proclaim we are teaching our kids to eat junk have obviously not been involved in the Snack Competition. Post-game snacking is a matter of personal standing in the community and cannot be taken lightly. My children’s reputations are at stake--something I take very seriously. Nonetheless, I still feel a sense of guilt as I perpetuate this cycle of snacking. Don’t get me wrong; I’m not a food purist (although my husband, who detests my practice of offering both candy and raisins to trick-or-treaters, would vehemently disagree). In reality, my kids have had more than their fair share of sugar and enough hydrogenated oil to keep a fleet of Hummers greased and ready to go. All right, I confess. Truth be told, I’m a conflicted food purist passing as a “cool mom.” I know that in order to fit in socially my kids will eat things that I really don’t consider food, and I’m prepared to accept that, however grudgingly. I have quietly learned to work the system and choose my battles. But when it is my turn to provide the snack, I must take matters into my own hands. I recognize that my efforts to offer healthy snacks need to be somewhat subversive. I mean, I don’t want to create the stir that a suburban coach did last year when he proclaimed his team would be a Snack-Free Zone. The poor guy actually had parents boycotting him. Apparently one cannot deny a child the right to eat Doritos and drink Hawaiian Punch. I’m not prepared to go that far. Instead, I’ll remain a behind-the-scenes Snack Agitator and do what I did last year when I drew the short straw and was assigned the last snack of the season: make homemade chocolate cupcakes. It really was a grand slam success as far as the Snack Competition goes. All the other parents were so impressed that I had actually made something from scratch. And, the kids didn’t even notice the shredded zucchini. Proof that you can have your cake and eat it, too. If there are any other conflicted food purists out there, the recipes are here. Be sure to try my great chocolate chip cookie recipe with tofu, too. It’s a real Little League crowd pleaser.
CHOCOLATE ZUCCHINI CAKE
Dry ingredients: 3 cups flour 2 cups sugar 1/3 cup cocoa 2 teaspoons baking soda 1 teaspoon salt
Wet ingredients: 2 tablespoons vinegar 1 tablespoons vanilla ¾ cup canola oil ½ cup water 3 cups grated zucchini
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Mix all the dry ingredients together. Add the wet ingredients. Blend with hand mixer. Poor in lightly oiled 9-by-13-inch pan and bake for about 25 to 35 minutes (until toothpick in center of cake comes out clean). Or this recipe makes about 24 cupcakes (bake 14 to 16 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean). Note: If making cupcakes, make sure to bake in oiled muffin tins--not in the paper cups--these tend to stick to the paper.
TOFU HOUSE CHOCOLATE CHIP COOKIES (adapted from a Mori-Nu Tofu recipe)
1 cup unsalted margarine 1 cup refined cane sugar 2 tablespoons light molasses 4 tablespoons Mori-Nu Lite Tofu (firm), pureed 1 teaspoon vanilla extract 1¾ cups unbleached flour ¼ cup whole wheat flour ½ teaspoon baking soda ¼ teaspoon salt 12 ounces (2 cups) chocolate chips
Position two racks in center of oven and preheat to 350 degrees. Cream margarine, sugar and molasses with electric beaters or in heavy-duty mixer until light and fluffy. Add tofu puree and vanilla; beat for one more minute. Mix flours, soda and salt in small bowl. Add to creamed mixture and mix at low speed with the electric mixer or lightly with a rubber spatula, blending in all dry ingredients. Fold in chocolate chips. Drop by rounded teaspoonfuls onto ungreased cookie sheet and bake for 8 to 10 minutes. Cool on wire rack. Makes 6 dozen cookies.
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