Homemade Snacks—Fun To Make And Great For Kids And Their Parents

Crispy Brussels Sprouts with Crushed Toasted Walnuts and Golden Raisins
Crispy Brussels Sprouts with Crushed
Toasted Walnuts and Golden Raisins

The basic idea or principle guiding homemade snacks is that they are both tasty and good for you, because you choose which ingredients to include and make sure they are nutritious from the beginning. Making a concerted effort to limit the amount of salt and sugar will double the likelihood that these treats will be healthy and delicious.
The magazine Eating Well, Mark Bittman’s Vegetarian Cookbook and my Midwestern mother helped me create several of these healthy snacks—and the ideas behind them. I hope you enjoy them as well.

Snacks by definition should be tasty and nutritious, but not so filling that you can’t turn to active sports and games shortly after consuming such delights.
The goal is to make the snack easy and appealing to eat without being too sweet or too difficult to consume. I have also minimized using white or brown sugar and instead have included fructose found in honey, fruit and berries and stevia, a natural sweetener that comes from a plant found in Latin America. It contains no calories and is as much as 300 times sweeter than cane sugar. It’s not for everyone, however, even though it’s sweet due to a somewhat unique flavor. I have avoided so-called artificial sweeteners, such as saccharin, Splenda and aspartame.

Here are a few suggestions I recommend to ensure that your snacks are enjoyable to prepare, as well as delicious to eat. First however, before climbing into this sandbox of goodies, I must emphasize that while it’s true that you can buy many of these snacks at your local store, it is the process of making them yourself with your kids or by yourself that is at the heart of home snacks. You know what’s in them, how nutritious they are and how easy they can be for your children to make on their own. And that’s the key to making homemade snacks extra special.

Healthy Snack Tor Toddlers
Eating Well magazine tells us that children are ready for solid food at about nine months. And Cheerios by themselves are one of the simplest snacks to consider. Here’s some of their advantages:
• Easy to grab
• Dissolve easily in the mouth
• 100 percent whole-grain oats
• Fulfills two-thirds of toddlers’ early whole-grain recommendations
• 1 gram of sugar
• 11 vitamins and minerals

Homemade Trail Mix with Nuts and Berries
Almonds, cashews, pecans, macadamia nuts, pistachios or sesame seeds are all terrific nuts that are good for you, low in calories when eaten in moderation and are filled with protein. They are excellent by themselves or in combination with one another. Adding a few berries like raisins, pomegranates, chopped dates or prunes results in a wonderful flavor, too.
Adding a teaspoon of balsamic with an even smaller amount of sea salt will be catchy and intoxicating for the hill climbers among you.

No-Bake Good-for-You Granola Bars from Mark Bittman’s How to Cook Vegetarian
¼ cup honey
½ cup packed brown sugar
¼ cup grapeseed or corn oil
3 cups granola

1. Place the honey, sugar and oil in a small pot and bring to a boil. Add the granola to a large bowl and pour the sugar mixture over the top while mixing; stir until the granola is well coated.

2. Press into an 8- or 9-inch square pan and let cool in the refrigerator. Cut into squares or rectangles and serve. Keep in an airtight container for up to four days.

Peanut or Any Nut Butter Granola Bars
Practically a power bar, substitute peanut butter or any other nut butter for the brown sugar.

Crispy Brussels Sprouts With Crushed Toasty Walnuts And Golden Raisins
Cut 1 lb Brussels sprouts into quarters and roast in the oven at 400F for 20 minutes, until crisp. Separately toast ⅓ cup chopped walnuts. Combine Brussels sprouts and walnuts with ⅓ cup golden raisins and 1 teaspoon of sea salt.

Send comments, questions and observations to Chef Alan Zox at azox@zoxkitchen.com. For details about past columns, catering or Chef Zox’s blog, visit www.zoxkitchen.com.

 

Dave Gil de Rubio
In addition to being editor of theNassau Observer, Dave Gil de Rubio is a regular contributor to Long Island Weekly, specializing in music and sports features. He has won several awards for writing from Press Club of Long Island (PCLI), New York Press Association (NYPA) and Fair Media Council (FMC).

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