As you may have guessed from the lack of blog entries over the past few weeks, things have been a little hectic around here with summer activities. The other day as I was grabbing a snack for my boys as we headed out the door to baseball I stopped for just a moment and took note of the difference in our snack choices this year over year's past. Before I transitioned the way I fed my family our kitchen cupboards were lined with rows of bright, cartoon-filled boxes & bags filled with fun shaped food my kids loved to eat! While I knew those snacks weren't the best choices for my kids I didn't think they could be that bad. In fact, some of the snack packs actually looked quite healthy. Boy, was I wrong...
After doing some research I found that most of the packaged snacks I was feeding my kids on a daily basis were loaded with trans fats, BHT (which has been banned in most countries including Japan, England & Australia just to name a few), food dyes, and of course sugar...LOTS and LOTS of sugar! Remember, it is recommended that children (ages 4-8) consume no more than 12 grams of sugar/day and teens should limit sugar to 21-33 grams/day. It's amazing how much sugar my kids were consuming on a daily basis, much of which came from those convenient snacks I relied on to tide them over until meal times.
As if the excess sugar wasn't enough, when I looked deeper into the ingredients list and found that most of the foods contained trans fat I was mortified. Some of you might rememberthis post where I talked about the importance of Omega-3's to help keep kids' brains functioning at full capacity. I've since learned that when children consume foods that contain trans fat it goes and parks itself in spots reserved for Omega-3's. Maria wrote about this topic here saying "When this happens, our neurotransmitters responsible for focus, mood, and memory have a hard time finding and recognizing their receptors due to the inflammation of the membranes on the brain cells caused by the consumption of trans fats."
Now that we've shifted the way we eat in our home, those convenience snacks no longer line the shelves of our cupboards. Instead I have jars of snacks I keep stocked with goodies along with a lot of fruits and veggies so I always have healthy snacks available when needed. Because the snacks are made with all kinds of healthy goodness the kids stay full longer and don't spend the day begging for snacks...a nice change of pace around here.
I thought I'd spend some time over the next few weeks posting summer snack ideas. This week our snack jars are filled with the following: chocolate no bake protein bites, granola bites, roasted nuts, granola, almond flour chocolate chip cookies (recipes below):
(From left to right):
Almond Flour Chocolate Chip Cookies:
Recipe adapted fromwww.comfybelly.com
2 1/2 cups of blanched almond flour
1/4 teaspoon of salt
1/4 teaspoon of baking soda
8 tablespoons of butter (if you want the cookies a little chewier add 1-2 TBS additional butter)
1 tablespoon of vanilla
1/2 cup of honey (I use sugar-free honey from Nature's Hollow)
1 cup of chocolate chips (I usesugar-free chocolate chips)
1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F.
2. Combine the dry ingredients in a bowl and blend well.
3. Add the wet ingredients and blend well again.
4. Prepare baking sheets with parchment paper, and drop a spoon full of cookie dough on the parchment paper, spacing the cookies about 2 inches apart.
5. Bake for about 15 minutes, or until they start to brown on the edges.
Granola bites (adapted from a Weelicious recipe):
1/2 Cup Peanut Butter (I use Trader Joe's Valencia Peanut Butter with Roasted Flaxseeds)
1/2 Cup sugar-free honey
1 Cup Whey Crisps
1 1/2 Granola (I make my own...see recipe below)
1/4 Cup dried fruit such as; cranberries, cherries, blueberries and/or raisins (I use dried fruit VERY sparingly in my house, but they are a nice addition to this recipe)
1. Place the peanut butter and honey in a small saucepan over low heat and warm until it becomes smooth and combined.
2. Place the remaining ingredients in a bowl and stir to combine.
3. Pour the warm peanut butter mixture into the bowl with the granola mixture and stir to combine.
4. Roll into 1 inch balls (I used a mini ice cream scooper to scoop out each portion, but you could also use a tablespoon) .
5. Serve or store in an air tight container
Maria's No-Bake Chocolate Protein Bites:
1/2 cup cocoa
1/2 cup coconut oil or butter
1/2 cup vanilla orchocolate almond milk (optional)
1/2 cup natural Peanut Butter
1 tsp vanilla
3 cupschocolate whey crisps
1. Combine the first 4 ingredients in a saucepan and bring to a rolling boil for 1 1/2 minutes
2. Add the other three ingredients, stir well.
3. Drop by tablespoon on wax paper.
4. Let cool completely.
Granola (this is great by itself with a splash of unsweetened vanilla almond milk or sprinkled on smoothies, etc...):
2/3 cup honey (I use sugar-free honey)
1 Tbsp. molasses
1/3 cup oil (I use coconut oil...you can find this in the whole foods section at the store)
5 cups oats (old-fashioned rolled oats...I use Bob's Red Mill)
1 cup ground up flax seed (I buy fresh flax seed and grind in my blender just before using)
1 tsp. cinnamon
1. Mix honey, molasses, and oil in a saucepan. Heat until melted and mixed.
2. Combine oats, wheat germ, and cinnamon in a 9x13 pan
3. Pour honey mixture over dry mixture and mix well.
4. Bake at 375 degrees for 10 minutes. Stir and cook for about 5 more minutes.
5. Let cool before eating.
mixed nuts of choice (I like almonds and walnuts)
1. Soak nuts in a large bowl with water and a few pinches of sea salt overnight.
2. Drain nuts and place on a baking sheet.
3. Bake at 200 degrees for 18-24 hours (or use a food dehydrator)
** Please note: If peanut allergies are an issue you might consider swapping out the almond flour for coconut flour and sunbutter in place of the peanut butter in some of the recipes I post.