Healthy Snacking in the Summer

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healthy-snacksThe school year has wound down around here, and that means that routine goes out the window. My kids go from 3 healthy meals and 2 snacks per day to continuous grazing, thanks to a mostly unscheduled summer. The problem is that this lack of schedule tends to lend itself to higher fat, higher sugar and less nutritious diet because the snacks my kids gravitate toward tend to be granola bars and freezies! So, although the summer is more free-flowing, to encourage healthy snacking, I find it important to have tasty and filling snacks ready to go. I plan ahead and make big batches, and freeze them, where appropriate.

I choose snacks that deliver high energy, pack nutrient-dense calories, and are low in added sugar. Here are some snack ideas for you and your family.

Fruit and Vegetables: Firm, crisp veggies help clean teeth as they’re eaten. Eating apples, carrots, broccoli, cauliflower and peppers also increases the flow of saliva, which in turn neutralizes enamel-damaging acid.

Creamy Kiwi Avocado Popsicles: Instead of the usual iced treat, this popsicle alternative adds protein, vitamin E, calcium and so much more.

8 kiwi fruit
1 ripe avocado
1/4 cup plain organic yogurt
3 tablespoons fresh-pressed apple juice
1 1/2 teaspoons honey

Pop everything into a food processor or blender and blend until smooth. Pour into popsicle molds and freeze.

Tofu and Egg Bites: These are quick and easy to make and are high in protein to keep you and the whole family satisfied.

• 6 organic eggs
• 1/2 of a 300 g package (2/3 of a pound) soft tofu (organic is best)
• Sea salt, to taste
• 1 large sweet potato, cooked, peeled and chopped (roasted is best)
• 1/2 red pepper, chopped
• 1 cup chopped broccoli florets
• 3/4 cup crumbled feta or grated cheddar cheese

Preheat oven to 350 F. Crack eggs into a large bowl and crumble in tofu. Season with salt. Using a whisk or hand blender, mix well. Stir in sweet potato, red pepper and broccoli.

Pour the mixture into a mini muffin baking sheet (with cupcake liners) or an 8-inch square baking dish lined with parchment paper. Sprinkle with cheese, and then bake for 20 to 25 minutes (for mini muffin size) or 35 to 40 minutes (square dish) until the eggs are set. Remove from the oven and let it stand for 5 to 10 minutes. If using the square dish, cut them into squares.

Buckwheat Energy Bars: These bars are easy to make and are a wonderful snack that helps keep your energy levels up. You can vary the seeds, nuts and fruits based on your preferences and what you have on hand.

• 1/3 cup organic buckwheat flour
• 1 cup chopped, unsalted nuts (almonds, hazelnuts, walnuts or pecans)
• 1/4 cup unsweetened shredded coconut
• 1/3 cup seeds (flax, chia, pumpkin or sunflower)
• 1 cup chopped, unsweetened dried fruit (cranberries, raisins, apricots, dates or cherries)
• 1 tsp cinnamon
• 1/2 cup unsalted butter
• 1/4 cup honey
• 1 tsp vanilla extract

Preheat the oven to 350 F and grease an 8 x 8 inch pan. Combine the dry ingredients and cinnamon together in a bowl. In a small saucepan, melt the butter and honey on very low heat, then stir in vanilla. Pour the butter mixture over the flour and nut mixture and stir to combine. Press into prepared pan and bake for 20 to 25 minutes, or until set. Let cool and cut into bars.

Spring Pea Hummus: Serve this delicious dip with carrots or whole grain crackers.

1 cup shelled fresh peas (frozen can be used too)
1/4 cup fresh cilantro
2 garlic cloves
1/4 cup tahini
salt and pepper to taste

Cook the peas in a saucepan in boiling salted water until just tender (6 to 10 minutes). Drain and cool. If you are using frozen peas, follow the instructions on the package. Toss everything in a food processor and puree. You can adjust the amounts of everything, depending on how creamy or chunky your prefer your hummus.

Sesame Energy Balls: These little energy balls are tasty and can be thrown into a container for a quick, healthy alternative to chips and candy bars. They deliver high energy, pack nutrient-dense calories, and are low in sugar. Made with a combination of sesame seeds, flaxseeds, almond butter and coconut, they are easy to make and can be enjoyed frozen or at room temperature.

1/2 cup almond butter
1/2 cup tahini
1/4 cup shredded coconut
1/4 cup sesame seeds, flaxseeds, or a combination of both
Agave syrup to taste

In a food mixer, blend all ingredients at high speed. Once well mixed, form into 12 balls and place in a container in the freezer.

Photo from here, with thanks.

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