Healthy Snacks to Entice Your Kids to Eat Real Food
Susan Neal RN, MBA, MHS
Over half of Americans suffer from chronic diseases. One of the dominant causes is the poor quality of the foods we consume. The average American ingests loads of chemical additives and sugar. Unfortunately, our kids eat food-like substances packaged in colorful boxes and bags, and it hard to get them to even taste real food. Now their health declines as their weight increases. So this mom was on a quest to provide healthy, delicious snacks her kiddos.
I have spent several years studying healthy eating lifestyles and what type of plan to follow to best avoid food-related illnesses. Recently, I taught a Bible study, The Daniel Plan which focused on consuming whole, unprocessed foods. The plan encouraged you to begin with a two week fast from wheat, sugar, and dairy products. Being the teacher, I wanted to lead by example; and I encouraged my family to go along with the changes I was making in my personal eating plan.
I asked each of my three children to tell me their favorite snack food, which turned out to be crunchy, fat-laden potato chips; super-sweet sugar cookies; and salty, over-processed pretzels. At that moment, I realized my children were junk food junkies who preferred salty or sugar-laden snacks. They balked at the idea of giving up the familiar food they were used to eating.
One of my daughters asked, “If we went on this fast what would we eat?” I came up empty handed. It was difficult to think of healthy snacks that could replace the unhealthy ones; yet give the same delicious satisfaction. I needed to provide nutritious, yet delicious, snacks which my skeptical family would find to be great substitutes to the usual processed foods. That afternoon, I went to work in my kitchen and made the following nutritious snack foods: healthy, homemade granola; sweet and tangy dehydrated strawberries and mangos; refreshing fruit smoothies from frozen strawberries, raspberries, and blackberries; crunchy dark chocolate covered nuts, seeds, and currents; and delicious chocolate chip cookies made with almond flour.
The next day, my experiments were put to the test when my youngest daughter needed to grab a quick breakfast. She skeptically ate a slice of dried mango but ended up coming back for more. My treats were tested again when my middle child packed her lunch. She took two almond cookies and some dehydrated strawberries. My treats were a success!
These delicious snacks were the answer I needed! I was enthralled by how much our variety of food choices expanded when I got creative and brainstormed in the kitchen. The benefit our family has received is tremendous. I have lost weight, and my craving for carbohydrates has stopped! When you make healthy eating choices it positively affects the whole family. Seeing my family choosing healthy foods gave me the encouragement I needed to continue on this path.
I hope the following nutritious snack recipes get you excited about making healthy treats for your family. Enjoy a large variety of delicious foods, and the pay-off will be many more years of better health without food-related illness.
Granny Sue’s Granola
8 cups oats
1 cup almonds
1 cup pecans
1 cup walnuts
1/2 cup sunflower seeds
1/3 cup sesame seeds
1/3 cup pumpkin seeds
3/4 cup coconut or olive oil
1/2-2/3 cup of honey
Combine all ingredients. Pour into two large greased baking pans. Bake at 325 degrees for 18-20 minutes, take out, and stir. Cook for another 18-20 minutes, stir, and add the following ingredients: 1-2 cups of dried fruit: berries, dates, apricots, raisins, or craisens.
Cook for 10 more minutes. Store granola in two quart mason jars. Put one on kitchen counter and the other in the refrigerator.
A food dehydrator is a terrific investment when beginning to change to a more healthy style of eating. Simply cut your fruit into similar size slices. Place on dehydrator trays and turn on for the length of time indicated by your dehydrator’s instructions. If the fruit is in different sizes, the small pieces will get overdone and the large pieces will not be completed dried. Store dried fruit in mason jars.
Either pick or purchase your berries. Rinse with water and drain in a colander. Place berries on a ungreased cookie sheet. Make sure the berries do not touch. Place in freezer several hours until frozen. Place frozen berries in mason jars and put back in the freezer. Since the berries are frozen individually, you can take as much or as little out of the jar as you need when making your fruit smoothie.
1 cup coconut or almond milk
1 cup frozen berries
1 tsp coconut oil
Stevia to sweeten
1 cup ice
Protein smoothie: add 1/2 cup of nuts (almond, pecan, walnut) or 2 Tbsp. of almond butter.
Green smoothie: add 1/2 cup of spinach or kale.
Dark Chocolate Covered Nuts, Seeds, and Currents
Melt 1-2 bars of dark chocolate >70% cocoa, which is healthy and low in sugar. Add a mixture of nuts, seeds, and currents until coated. Drop by tablespoons onto a sheet of wax paper. As the mixture cools the nut clusters will harden.
Dark Chocolate Chip Pecan Cookies
3 cups of almond flour (Could substitute 1 cup with coconut flour)
1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda
1/4 cup of coconut or olive oil
1 tsp of stevia for baking
1/4 cup of maple syrup
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 cup dark chocolate >70% cocoa
1/2 cup pecans, almonds or walnuts (optional)
Combine dry ingredients. In a separate bowl, mix oil, stevia, syrup, eggs, and vanilla with a hand mixer. Slowly add dry ingredients. Mix by hand when adding chocolate chips and nuts. Bake at 375 degrees for 15 minutes.