“Mom! I’m hungry! What is there to eat?”
I could set my watch to my son’s after-school hunger pangs. Every day at 2:15 p.m., “the hungries” strike as my 6-year-old drops his book bag, wiggles out of his jacket and begs for cookies or crackers. I make sure he also gets some fruit – an apple or berries – but an hour later, rushing out the door to taekwondo or Scouts, the kid is ravenous again. What just happened here? An incomplete snack is what happened, says pediatric registered dietitian Kathleen Sheldon, L.D.N. Fruit is a good start, but foods with protein and fat are the building blocks to a snack that will keep kids sated from the school bell to the dinner bell. “Sometimes kids don’t know why they feel so blah after eating,” says Sheldon, who worked with my family for six months on our diet. But when a snack is basically all carbs – and, yes, that includes fruit and crackers – a kid’s blood sugar will spike and then drop, making him or her feel suddenly depleted of energy. “Protein and fat hold your blood sugar levels higher for a longer period of time, to carry you through the next few hours,” Sheldon says. I know firsthand that we parents are busy, and it’s easier to buy boxed snacks than to block out time for food prep. But this simple formula – fat + protein + fruits or veggies – could be as simple as a cheese stick and an apple, or baby carrots with full-fat Greek yogurt for dipping. Or, for something a little more fun, try one of these straightforward recipes, perfect for a kid on the go. Mango Lassi Adapted with permission from New Favorites for New Cooks by Carolyn Federman, copyright © 2018. Published by Ten Speed Press, an imprint of Penguin Random House, Inc.
“This mango ‘shake,’ traditional in India, is thick, cooling and filling,” writes Carolyn Federman, founder of the Charlie Cart Project, a nonprofit that supports food education in schools, and author of
her 2018 cookbook for kids. “For the most flavor, choose very ripe mangoes, either the Ataulfo or Alfonso variety. Both have a bright, golden-yellow color.” New Favorites for New Cooks: 50 Delicious Recipes for Kids to Make 2 whole, ripe mangoes or 1 cup no-sugar-added frozen mango 1 cup plain whole-milk yogurt ¼ cup water 5 ice cubes Tiny pinch coarse salt Pinch ground cardamom (optional) ½ tablespoon sugar or to taste (optional)
Chop the mango into cubes (see “How To Cut a Mango”). In a blender, combine mango, yogurt, water, ice cubes, salt and cardamom (if using). Make sure the lid is fit tightly onto the blender. Start on low speed and gradually work up to the highest setting. Count to 20. Turn off the blender and use a long-handled spoon to check the flavor and consistency; the lassi should be thick and smooth, with no chunks of ice. If desired, add sugar and return the lid to blend again. Strain through a fine-mesh strainer into tall glasses or car-friendly to-go cups to drink on the ride to an after-school activity. Drink shortly after making.
Per serving: 288 calories, 5 g fat, 3 g saturated fat, 17 mg cholesterol, 58 g carbohydrates, 52 g sugar, 8 g protein, 5 g fiber, 88 mg sodium Print Recipe
Nut-free Snack Bites
This recipe, featured in
The 101 Healthiest Foods for Kids, was created by author and blogger Sally Kuzemchak, M.S., R.D. “I have two boys, including one hungry, active teenager, so I’m always looking for quick, nutrient-dense snacks he can grab on the go. I can make these sweet and satisfying snacks with just a few ingredients.” realmomnutrition.com ¾ cup quick oats ½ cup sunflower seed butter ½ cup crisped rice cereal (use brown crisped rice cereal if you can find it) 3 tablespoons honey 1 tablespoon ground flaxseed 1⁄3 cup chocolate chips or your favorite substitute (for coating, optional)
In a small bowl, combine oats, sunflower seed butter, cereal, honey and flaxseed; mix until incorporated. Roll tablespoon-size portions into balls. If mixture is too sticky, add a bit more cereal or oats; if too dry, add a bit more sunflower seed butter. Place on a plate lined with parchment paper and freeze for at least 30 minutes. Store in airtight container, in freezer or refrigerator.
Optional: In microwave, melt chocolate chips in a small bowl, heating for 30-second intervals and stirring until melted. Dip one end of each snack ball into melted chocolate and place on parchment-lined plate. Freeze until chocolate sets, then transfer to airtight container and refrigerate. Per snack bite: 89 calories, 5 g fat, 0 g saturated fat, 0 mg cholesterol, 9 g carbohydrates, 5 g sugar, 2 g protein, 1 g fiber, 33 mg sodium Per snack bite with chocolate: 107 calories, 6 g fat, 1 g saturated fat, 0 mg cholesterol, 12 g carbohydrates, 7 g sugar, 3 g protein, 1 g fiber, 33 mg sodium Print Recipe Rainbow Veggie Skewers With Homemade Hummus
Get younger kids excited about vegetables and give them some agency over what they’re eating by turning the shopping trip into a scavenger hunt. At the store, ask kids to choose one vegetable from each color of the rainbow, says Jillian Griffith, M.S.P.H., R.D.N., L.D.N., and founder of Know Yourself, Love Yourself nutrition and coaching in Washington, D.C. From there, you’ll pop the veggies on coffee stirrers or wood skewers and pair with hummus. You can buy prepared hummus or make this easy, creamy recipe by Carolyn Federman, who says it’s “one of those things I love to eat and never knew I could just whip up right at home.”
Hummus 1 15-oz can chickpeas 2 lemons, juiced ¼ cup tahini (a sesame seed spread available in most grocery stores) 3 tablespoons olive oil, divided 1 teaspoon coarse salt 1 small garlic clove, peeled and halved Pinch paprika 1 tablespoon fresh flat-leaf parsley, finely chopped (optional)
In a strainer set over a medium bowl, strain chickpeas and reserve the liquid. In a blender or food processor, combine chickpeas, ¼ cup of reserved chickpea liquid, ¼ cup lemon juice, tahini, 1 tablespoon olive oil, salt and half the garlic clove. (If you and your family love garlic, use the whole clove.) Starting on low speed with the lid on, blend ingredients together, gradually working up to the highest setting. Count to 20, and turn off the blender. Remove lid and use a long-handled spoon to check the consistency; if dry, add another 2 tablespoons of chickpea liquid and blend until very smooth, about 30 seconds.
Add more salt and/or lemon juice in small amounts to taste. Spoon hummus into a shallow bowl, drizzle with remaining olive oil, and sprinkle with paprika, optional parsley and a bit of lemon juice. Serve immediately with veggie skewers or refrigerate in a tightly sealed container. Keep up to five days. Per 3 tablespoons: 68 calories, 4 g fat, 0 g saturated fat, 0 mg cholesterol, 4 g carbohydrates, 0 g sugar, 2 g protein, 2 g fiber, 180 mg sodium Nutrition information for homemade hummus only. Nutrition information for skewers will vary depending on which vegetables you use. Skewers 1 red vegetable, such as 10-ounce package cherry tomatoes 1 orange vegetable, such as orange sweet pepper 1 yellow vegetable, such as summer squash 1 green vegetable, such as cucumber 1 blue/purple vegetable, such as 1 head purple cauliflower
Build your kebabs using wooden skewers (or coffee stirrers if you’re worried about pointed edges for young children). Slice veggies into medium chunks, and spear in color order of the rainbow: red, orange, yellow, green, blue/purple. If not eating right away, wrap in foil and pack in lunchbox with ¼ cup hummus in its own small, tightly sealed food storage container.
Print Recipe 4 cups rolled (old-fashioned) oats 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon brown sugar 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon Pinch salt ¼ cup coconut oil (can sub sunflower oil) ½ cup honey ½ cup roasted, salted pumpkin seeds ½ cup roasted, salted sunflower seeds ½ cup roasted sesame seeds (optional) ½ cup dried fruit (such as cranberries or raisins) Fresh fruit (optional) Milk or yogurt
1) Preheat the oven to 325 F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
2) In a large bowl, toss together the oats, brown sugar, cinnamon and salt.
3) In a small saucepan over low heat, melt the coconut oil. Once melted, measure to be sure you have ¼ cup. (Melt more oil if needed.) Return the coconut oil to the saucepan, add the honey, and warm until combined (about 1 minute), stirring once or twice with a wooden spoon. Turn off the stove and then pour the honey mixture over the oat mixture. Stir well with the spoon and then spread the oat mixture onto the prepared baking sheet in one layer.
4) Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, until crisp and lightly browned. Check after 15 minutes if you prefer it lightly toasted. Remove from the oven and immediately sprinkle the pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, sesame seeds (if using) and dried fruit over the top. Let the granola cool for 10 minutes, then remove it from the parchment and break it up into small chunks.
5) Serve in a bowl topped with milk or yogurt and optional fresh fruit. Granola may be stored in a jar with a tightly fitting lid at room temperature for up to 1 month.
Per ¼ cup serving: 132 calories, 6 g fat, 2 g saturated fat, 0 mg cholesterol, 19 g carbohydrates, 9 g sugar, 3 g protein, 2 g fiber, 31 mg sodium Print Recipe Extra-special Quesadillas
“These quesadillas are even tastier than the usual kind because they’re stuffed with cheese
and fluffy scrambled eggs,” Federman writes. This combo, along with a dollop of yogurt and drizzle of olive oil, provides lasting fuel for sports practice. 2 ounces cheddar or Monterey Jack cheese A few sprigs fresh cilantro (optional) 4 eggs 1 tablespoon plain whole-milk yogurt (not Greek style) Coarse salt and ground black pepper 1 ½ teaspoons olive oil 2 6-inch flour tortillas Hot sauce or salsa for serving (optional)
1) Grate the cheese into a small bowl. If using cilantro, pull the leaves from the stems and chop them.
2) In another small bowl, crack the eggs, removing any shell with a spoon. Whisk in the yogurt and a pinch
of salt and pepper until the eggs and yogurt are completely combined.
3) Put 1 teaspoon of the olive oil in a small saute pan. Use a rubber spatula to coat the bottom of the pan, and place over medium heat for about 1 minute. To test the heat, drop a bead of water into the pan. If it sizzles and evaporates immediately, the pan is ready. Pour in the eggs all at once, and turn the heat to low. Stir constantly, gently scraping the bottom of the pan and folding the eggs over on themselves for about 2 minutes. When eggs are just set, sprinkle with a pinch of salt and pepper.
4) On a clean griddle, drizzle the remaining ½ teaspoon olive oil and turn the heat to medium-high. Count to 20. Using the spatula, lay the tortillas flat on the griddle and heat until they start to soften, about 1 minute. Flip them over with the spatula and then sprinkle the grated cheese over the top. When the cheese is melty, move the tortillas to a plate and then turn off the stove.
5) Heap the eggs onto one side of each tortilla. Fold the tortillas in half, pressing down gently to close, and top with the chopped cilantro and salsa, if you like. Cut each folded tortilla in half to make triangles. Serve warm.
Per triangle: 200 calories, 13 g fat, 5 g saturated fat, 202 mg cholesterol, 9 g carbohydrates, 1 g sugar, 12 g protein, 1 g fiber, 308 mg sodium Print Recipe Both recipes adapted with permission from New Favorites for New Cooks: 50 Delicious Recipes for Kids to Make by Carolyn Federman, copyright © 2018. Published by Ten Speed Press, an imprint of Penguin Random House, Inc.