Healthy Snacks for Kids

Snacks become part of the routine with kids.  I find my guys after a good morning of running around, that usually starts after our 6 am breakfast, are hungry mid-morning.  After nap time seems to be the other time my 3 year old goes poking around the cupboard.  I’m not sure if the after nap is hunger or conditioning from daycare.  Nevertheless, when it’s snack time you don’t want to be fussing around with anything complicated, but at the same time, you don’t want to be handing out a snack pack delivered fresh from a factory.

Our snack of choice is fruit, but if for whatever reason that’s not going to fit the bill our standbys are: yogurt, seeds, cottage cheese, maybe a couple of nuts, and of course, fruit.  Our nanny started this week (yes, it’s back to work for me) and in an effort to be more helpful than saying “they can eat what ever is in the fridge”, I started looking for snack ideas.  Here are some of my favorites:

  • Chopped vegetables & dip
  • Frozen bananas blended with milk
  • Rice cakes with nut butter
  • Individual boxes of soy milk (these are a life saver for us, we always have some in the diaper bag)
  • Edamame (never thought of these for a snack but they are fun to pop and very nutritious)

I found all of these suggestions in the “Healthy Snacks for Kids” brochure from the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine site.  It think I’ll be back to visit the site again as it appeared to have lots of content of interest.  For those who might have more time than I do, here are some snacks I think kids or adult would love, but they require more prep:

  • Dip banana in yogurt, roll in dry cereal and freeze
  • Inside-Out Sandwich: Spread mustard on a slice of deli turkey. Wrap around a sesame breadstick
  • Make snack kabobs. Put cubes of low-fat cheese and grapes on pretzel sticks.
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Menu – June 29

For my first week back at work, I have some fast and easy recipes, that make good left over lunch material. The chef salad is from Fine Cooking, but I couldn’t find a link to the recipe.

Sunday: Malasian Sambal – from the World Food Cafe, my favorite cookbook
Monday: Mexican Chopped Saladyummy lime, orange juice, cumin, garlic salad dressing!
Tuesday: Modern Chef Salad ( I’m making mine with with edamame, chickpeas and shrimp in place of your standard deli meat and cheese, here’s a collection of chef salad recipes)
Wednesday:  Burgers & Sausages (veggie… of course), roast potato salad, ceasar salad (hopefully from the garden)
Thursday: Make your own Pizza on a Pita
Friday: Shrimp & Coconut Milk Vermicelli Soup

On my night stand: June 28

This week I’ve got two great book on the go:

  • Same kind of differentSame Kind Of Different As Me: Is a fascinating story about the most unlikely of friends: a modern-day slave, turned homeless man and an international art dealer. Before starting the book I was a bit skeptical, as one of the quotes on the back is from Barbara Bush (George Senior’s wife).  It was exceptional, definitely a tear jerker in the middle.  I enjoyed the back and forth:  the chapters alternate between the homeless man and the art dealer perspective.
  • Why Gender MattersWhy Gender Matters: What Parents and Teachers Need to Know about the Emerging Science of Sex Differences: This is by far my favorite parenting book of all time. For any parents out there who’s kids are the opposite gender, you’ve no doubt found yourself saying: boys/girls really are different. I know I have. And the author of this book tells you why boys and girls are different and what difference it can/should make to parenting and teaching styles.  3/4 of the book is based on peer-reviewed research that the author summarizes for you, the last quarter, where there is not yet concrete evidence, you get the author’s opinion.  I’ve found this book enlightening and would recommend it to all parents (even if your kids are the same gender as you!).

Sugar & Substitutions

And I’m not talking about sucralose or aspartame, both of which are on my 100% avoid list.  However, the natural food store in my neck of the woods created a great pamphlet regarding sugar substitutes.  Different substitutes work better or worse, depending on the original intent of sugar in the recipe.  When I read the pamphlet, high school science and home-ec memories memories started skirting and dancing at the fringes of my memory

Here are some of the tips:

  • In recipes, you can usually cut the amount by 1/4 without affecting outcome.  If the sugar is only in for taste, then you can cut further.
  • Honey — good for sweetening and baking; reduce cooking temperature in recipe as it brows at a lower temperature
  • Agave Syrup: sweeter than sugar, so less is needed, gives moist texture to baked goods.  (We have some in the cupboard, but I’ve never known what to do with it.  “Off Her Cook” has been experimenting, so we can learn from her)
  • Date Sugar: great with whole grain baking; watch carefully when cooking to avoid over browning
  • Apple Sauce: acts as a fat and fiber substitute; for best results combine with stevia
  • Stevia: increase liquids by 1/3 cup; will not brown, will not feed yeast (I’ve always found this one leaves a bitter after taste)

There most important tip is that: sugar is sugar.  “Too much sugar in any for and will increase fat deposits”.

Other sources for sugar info:

Thumbs down on the vegan ‘mac & cheese’

Wow. That was bad. Even if you forgot for a moment that it tasted nothing like a cheese sauce and thought of it more as a cream sauce, it was horrid.  One of the first meals in years that my husband has had to push away.  Both he and my 3 year old had peanut butter toast for supper.

Vegan Tip: If things don’t turn out, don’t add back in the regular ingredients.  I made the mistake of trying to improve things by adding parmesan cheese to the top.  A little ridiculous to add cheese to your ‘vegan’ meal, but I was looking for some help.  It only made things worse.  That’s hard to do, as there are very few things which are not improved by a little parmesan cheese.

The perfect hostess gift

It’s local.  It’s unique. It’s only $10.

Staying current on up and coming musicians and being a working mom don’t always go hand in hand, but it’s just been made easier by my friend Jackie.  She’s produced CD covering unsigned, up and coming Canadian talent.  You can pick-up the CD at the downtown Chapters here in Ottawa.  Not based in Ottawa? Contact her through her myspace page and you’ll no doubt be able to work something out.

You can read the background behind the project in today’s Citizen.  If you’re looking to be extra hip, you can attend the CD launch party Thursday, June 25 at the Parliament Pub’s outdoor patio @ 9pm.

The CD’s targeted at the tourist market, but I love that it’s got local artists and even though I’m based in Ottawa it’s going to be my default hostess gift for the rest of the season.

Be careful what you wish for

When I was pregnant the first time around, Walk the Line came out on DVD.  We enjoyed the movie, and picked up a couple of Johnny Cash CDs from iTunes.  So far, a harmless little story our taste in music.

When our son came along and he had colic, it was by complete accident that we discovered that he liked Johnny Cash.  I was dancing  him around when the CD player (yes we still had one in those days) switched CDs and right from the beginning of “Hello, my name is Johnny Cash”, he stopped crying.  Even the car was of no help to us in those early days. But the car, plus a Johnny Cash CD and we were good for at least an hour of peace.

This was a cute and quirky story that we got to share with friends and family.  Fast forward to the age of 3.5 and he’s walking around the house with his MP3 player (love this thing), which is of course loaded with:  Johnny Cash.

To fully appreciate this story, listen to this YouTube clip while you read the rest :

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Why did he have a beer for breakfast?
I’m not allowed to have dessert for breakfast, why did he have a beer?
See it’s ok to wear dirty shirts

At this point I pressed next on the MP3 to skip the song.  We discussed the song and decided that Johnny Cash must be singing about opposites:  beer is a drink some people have at supper time, not breakfast and shirts should be clean and not dirty.  I should have pressed the stop button, as the next song was a Boy Named Sue, which is beeped out when the boy in the song calls his dad an SOB.

Mom, my music player is broken; it’s beeping.  Why is it beeping?  I can’t hear the words!