Snacks for Your Kids (and Yourself)

Actually, the title could just as well be Snacks for Everyone. Because no one is on their best behaviour when they’re hungry. It’s hard to concentrate when your energy levels drop and you suddenly notice that you’re being difficult and cranky to everyone around you. And the reason for all that negativity is that you forgot to eat.

As a mother of two I know how important it is always to have an easy, nutritious snack in the fridge or in my bag. With a little bit of planning, you can easily avoid falling for a chocolate bar or bag of potato chips. Although, there is something to be said about NEEDING the occasional chocolate bar…

Vegetables and fruits

The best snacks ever. I love to bite into a whole carrot, but I’ve noticed that my children love them even more when they're cut them into little sticks. I’ll do the same with cucumber and bell peppers, break a cauliflower into florets and store them in a fridge so it is easy for the kids to grab when they feel the need for a snack. Put them in little ziploc bags and they're perfect on the go. No mess and soooo healthy. If you want dip to go with your veggies, I like to mix a few spoonfuls of mayo with natural yoghurt and pep it up with white or blue cheese and herbs. Have you noticed that cream cheese is actually a dip already? Add some liquid (milk) if you prefer a thinner consistency.
Fruit is another one of nature’s no cook-snacks. I enjoy apples, oranges and bananas as they are, but children often find it easier, if you cut them into smaller pieces. You know they are not going to touch that watermelon, before you slice it. Think seasonally and use the berries, fruit and veggies that are in season.

Nuts and such

As you see, my motto is not to make this snack business difficult. A bag of nuts and raisins is a good choice and need no preparation. But if you want, granola bars are easy to make. I like to use a combination of almonds, cashews, pistachios, dried berries, Rice Crispies (yes, I know they're not nuts) and sometimes even chunks of dark chocolate, mix everything with honey or syrup and bake in the oven for 15 minutes. Let it set in the fridge and then cut into bars.

Smoothies and shakes

Berries, fruit, lettuce or other greens, juice and oats. Put them in a blender, hit the button and you have a great smoothie. I find smoothies so convenient, refreshing and nutritious. A bit of colour-therapy is an added bonus. And those over-ripe, black bananas that no one wants to eat are no longer a problem. I peel and slice them and pop them in my freezer. What a great smoothie base they make! Sometimes your kids (read you) also call for some ice cream: a homemade chocolate or strawberry shake is hard to beat.

Bread

Bread is my all-time favourite snack. The possibilities are endless and you can turn it into a meal, if needed. Fill a sandwich with just about any kind of meat and vegetables, cheese and spread. You should try my tuna salad: drain a can of good quality tuna and mix it with 2 tbsp mayo and about the same amount of diced pickled cucumbers... Eggs are another family favourite. My son always insists on having fried eggs on the sandwiches I pack to take with us when we head for a speed-skating event.

Something sweet

When you've been good about eating your greens, following a well-balanced diet and sticking to nutritious snacks, you need to have something for the soul as well. I love to bake for my kids and I know they appreciate it. Right now it is the season for apple pies. Pancakes and cinnamon buns are both hits as well. I guess that doesn’t require a lot of explaining.

A Finnish secret

There is something I want to share with you, though. Pick your favourite berry. In Finland we often use lingonberries, but strawberries, raspberries, currants, gooseberries or cranberries also work well. Boil about 4 dl berry with 7 dl of water for 10 minutes. Remove the berries using a sieve, add 1 dl sugar and 1 1/4 of semolina and simmer for 10 minutes. Let the porridge cool completely and then whip it until is has a light and creamy consistency. It tastes lovely served with milk.
Note to self: Thanks for the reminder. There will be a bowl of berry-porridge waiting in the fridge when my son comes home from school.

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