Combine two cups rolled oats with one cup dried fruit, sweeten
with brown sugar, honey or maple syrup and flavor with spices like
cinnamon or ginger.
Toss mixture with two egg whites to get those crunchy clusters
we all crave. Bake at 325 degrees for 30 minutes.
Homemade granola will keep for weeks.
Goodbye lazy, unstructured days of summer and leisurely meals.
No more eating breakfast at 10 a.m., picnicking at the park and
enjoying family dinners on the deck. Hello rushed breakfasts, bag
lunches and hungry children running in the door at 3 p.m. As for
dinner, we squeeze it in between homework, music lessons and sports
For many Chicago families juggling school, work and activities,
the day starts early and ends late. Meals may be rushed affairs or
come at odd times. Finding healthy snacks that provide fuel for
kids on the go is critical.
Although the word "snack" may conjure up images of junk food,
eating between meals is not inherently unhealthy.
"Snacks are not only fun for kids, they provide essential energy
that their growing bodies need," says Deanna Segrave-Daly, a
registered dietitian, mom and blogger at Teaspoon of Spice
(teaspoonofspice.com). But for snacks to accomplish these lofty
goals, they have to be the right kind.
"Serve snacks that include fruits, veggies, whole grains or
protein, like low-fat dairy, nuts or nut butters versus empty
calorie food or drinks," she says.
Because kids often eat on the run, parents need snacks that
offer real nutrition and fit in a backpack. And remember, you can
pack the healthiest snack in the world, but you have accomplished
nothing if your kids refuse to eat it.
It is possible to avoid processed foods if you plan ahead. Bake
muffins or quick breads on the weekend to have packable snacks all
week long. Substitute whole wheat flour for half the all-purpose
flour and sprinkle in wheat germ to increase the nutrition of your
home-baked goods. Try banana bread, pumpkin bread, zucchini or
carrot muffins-the possibilities are endless. The kids will enjoy
helping you bake, too.
Another great kitchen project that will keep your family
snacking all week is homemade granola. When you make granola at
home, you can limit the sugar and use wholesome ingredients.
Dairy foods make great high-protein snacks, Segrave-Daly points
out. But again, it is important to plan ahead to make sure you are
getting the most nutrition without a lot of extras that you don't
want. Avoid buying pricey tubes of portable yogurt, which are full
of sugar and chemicals. Instead, buy a large container of vanilla
yogurt and scoop portions into small, reusable containers for
eating on-the-go. Mix in sliced fruit and homemade granola for a
nutritious yogurt parfait.
Fruit also fits the requirement for a tasty, healthy and
convenient snack. Many fruits are excellent sources of vitamins and
fiber and are easy to grab and go. Consider pairing fruit with a
protein or whole grain to keep kids satisfied for longer. For
example, grapes pair well with cheese and a banana is terrific with
whole grain cereal. Wrap wedges of apple in sliced turkey or,
better yet, combine turkey and apple in half a whole wheat
But what if, at the end of the day, your kids still demand
cookies for snack? Don't say no. Just make your cookies
I developed this healthy cookie recipe to work as a quick
breakfast or snack. With whole wheat flour, rolled oats, wheat
germ, pumpkin seeds and dried cranberries, these cookies are loaded
with protein, fiber, vitamins and minerals. My kids still go crazy
Even healthy snacks need to be fun.
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