Healthier Snack Ideas for Kids

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There are decent granola bar options for kids to snack on.I decided to sit my kids down the other day to see if I could figure out some healthier snacking options for them.  I started off by asking them what their favorite junk foods are.  My oldest said, “the middle of those chocolate sandwich cookies, chocolate caramel pretzel granola bars, lattes (He’s joking, he’s never had a latte.  That I am aware of.) and ice cream.  My youngest said, “ice cream, any kind of chocolate, pretty much all candy and gummy fruit snacks.”  I wasn’t surprised by their answers.  And that was a good starting point for trying to give them better options while still getting a little bit of what they want.  What do you think your kids would say?

Both of my kids love chocolate so I try to cut down the amount they get by pairing it with fruit or pretzels. Studies show that dark chocolate has good properties, right?  And moderation is the key.  So I am fine including chocolate in their snacking.  But I make sure that it isn’t the entire snack and that I pair it with fruit or pretzels, both of which go AMAZING with dark chocolate.  This way, they aren’t eating an entire chocolate bar, or a bunch of chocolate candy, but getting a little to satisfy their cravings.

Dried fruit can take the place of high sugar gummy snacks.My youngest would happily survive on gummy snacks if I let him.  So I decided to try swapping them with straight up dried fruit.  While there is still a lot of sugar in dried fruit, there isn’t all the other funky chemicals like in those crazy-colored, super chewy fruit gummies.  At least I am pretty sure there isn’t all that other stuff in there…

sunflower seeds make a healthier snack for kids but is still crunchy with some salt.Sometimes they ask for chips or sugar cereals for a snack.  Due to food allergies, we can’t give them nuts, but salted sunflower seeds are a great substitute.  They are crunchy and salty with good fats which their little bodies need.  I, on the other hand, need to be careful with these in the house because I want to eat them by the spoonful.  So yummy.

sunbutter and banana "quesadilla" is a great after school snack idea.When they get home from school I like to give them a snack that is a little bit more hearty.  If I don’t, I find they ask for more food several times leading up to dinner.  For this snack I make Sunbutter and banana “quesadillas”.  There is no cheese in these, they just look like a quesadilla.  The Sunbutter is a great substitute for peanut butter (dumb allergies) and the banana is a nice sweet touch.  You can make it even a little bit more decadent by spraying a non-stick pan with a little bit of spray oil and then grilling it up.  Oh man.  Try this.   [Read more...]

Healthy Snacking and Meal Tips for Kids

Motts logoboys-hanging-outThese boys excel at snacks.  Put a plate of food in front of them and they won’t touch it.  But give them smaller quantities of things that are individually wrapped and they will eat them ALL.  It is something that I struggle with especially because I want to make sure they are eating healthy foods.  But if you look at most diet plans, they suggest snacking in between meals can be healthy.  That just means that I need to make sure I keep healthy snacks that the kids will eat in the house at all times.

oat-banana-smoothieMy boys love sugary cereals and convenience foods in the morning.  And I can’t blame them.  I love them too.  But they also love smoothies.  So I try to make sure that they have smoothies whenever we have time for them.  This Banana Oat Smoothie is a favorite and helps to keep them full for quite a while.  Any time I can get fruit in my kids before lunch I call a victory.  We usually use yogurt for protein and little to no sweeteners in our smoothie so I feel really good about them having a large serving.

keep-healthy-snacks-lowI still have my littlest home with me two days a week.  I have learned to keep the healthier snacks lower in the cupboard, easily in his reach.  While there might be cookies higher in the cupboard, he knows that if he can’t reach it, it is unlikely that he will get it as a snack.  This also helps me out when I’m right in the middle of something and can’t stop to get it for him.  He has also been taught that he can’t just go get something whenever he wants just because he can.  He still has to ask.  (Did you have to do this?  I have a clear recollection of being in high school and standing in the kitchen thinking, I can totally reach the snacks, I don’t really have to ask any more…)  More often than not, he will grab a Mott’s Snack & Go pack.  They come in a variety of flavors, which is awesome since my sons rarely like the same flavors.  They don’t require him to get a bowl or spoon and he can take care of it all by himself.  Kids love that, don’t they?

strawberries

Once the kids are home from school, I let them pick out a snack.  This can be pretty much anything, (their lunches are a sandwich, fruit and veg – pretty healthy) a cookie even.  But if they still need another snack before dinner it has to be a fruit or veggie.  While my mom freaks out about them eating a snack so close to dinner, I feel like this is the prime time to get something healthy in to them.  They think they are getting an extra snack and I know that they are really getting something good for them.  Please nobody tell them.

have-kids-pick-dinner-one-night-a-weekSomething happens when it is time for my kids to sit down at the table.  Suddenly they hate food and don’t want to eat.  Or they suddenly they don’t like the meal that used to be their favorite.  So now, I ask each child and my husband to pick a meal for me to cook each week.  When they have picked it themselves they eat more and take ownership of it in a way.  This also helps with the menu planning burn out that I often get.  It’s hard to come up with meal ideas all the time.  This has been working out great.  And I totally lucked out because the meal my husband asks for it SUPER simple.  Thank goodness.

brussels-sprouts-and-mushroomsSomething else I try to do is mix something the kids like with something new or that they aren’t sold on yet.  My oldest recently began to love mushrooms.  I try to make them for him often.  But I also try to mix them in with other types of veggies and flavorings so he can try more things.  It doesn’t always work (for instance, he prefers his Brussels sprouts with bacon) but is worth a try.  It is also a great way to work in some leftovers if you don’t have a ton of one thing.

snacks-for-hiking

Weekends might be the hardest time of all for snacking.  Since my boys are always hungry, I always make sure to have snacks with me.  There is nothing worse than being out on an errand and having only whiney children with no food for them.  However will they make it through?  Mott’s® Snack & Go applesauce packs are the perfect thing!  They are easy to take with you and are pretty much mess free.  I always have these in my purse.  I’m so grateful for these snacks!

Mott’s® Snack & Go is the nutritious applesauce kids love in a squeezable pouch they can take with them wherever they go.  Mott’s is also the only applesauce brand with Box Tops for Education, helping to support kids’ schools.  Visit motts.com to learn more.

*Disclosure:  Compensation was provided by Mott’s via Glam Media.  The opinions expressed herein are those of the author and are not indicative of the opinions or positions of Mott’s.

A Dreamy Summer Afternoon with Friends

*From time to time Pottery Barn sends me product to check out. This is not a sponsored post. The colors of the rug inspired me to create a simple tablescape.
end of summer entertainingHere is what my dream afternoon with girlfriends would look like.  I am usually drawn to really bright colors, but there is something about the Gianna rug that I just love.  The colors remind me of late summer, in the twilight hours, feel really earthy to me.  Nothing relaxes me more than spending time with good friends.  So for my perfect afternoon, I would keep it simple, keep it tasty and keep it refreshing.

cheese-and-crackers-on-woodWho doesn’t love cheese with something crispy?  Super easy.

thin addictives by nonniFor a little sweet, because you know I love me some sweets, I’d put out these ThinAddictives.  The crunch is perfect and snacky with the perfect amount of sweetness.

snacks with friendsIced tea is one of my favorite beverages of all time.  Adding a hint of fresh herbs like mint or basil makes it so summery.  By clapping the herb in your palm a few times and adding to the top of your tea, each sip is scented and makes for a sensory treat.

grapefruit chamomile and cardamom sodaI’m a sucker for cardamom so when I saw this Joia Soda I had to try it.  It was perfection in a bottle.  Not too sweet, not to spice-y.  And it is always fun to having something new for your girlfriends to try.

late-summer-colors-and-iced-teaThe perfect summer afternoon.  If we are lucky it would be overcast and stormy without being humid and cold.  This is a dream scenario after all right?

iced tea and cardamom sodaWhat is does your dream afternoon with friends look like?

Rug c/o Pottery Barn.

Candy Popcorn Recipe for Valentine’s Day

Candy Popcorn Recipe TutorialFor someone who doesn’t post a lot of holiday stuff I got totally wrapped up in Valentine’s Day this year.  And most of it was last minute but I really wanted to share it.  One thing that was planned out was this candy popcorn recipe that I collaborated on with Kristin of Meringue Bake Shop.  Many people know her from her cupcakes and PushCakes.  But she is SO much more.  Twice she has made this delicious candy popcorn for parties for me and it is always a hit.  And it can’t be more perfect for Valentine’s Day.

ingredients for candy popcornThis candy popcorn recipe is totally easy.  I’m afraid to use a candy thermometer so that is why I wanted Kristin involved.  I thought this would be too hard for me to make considering I am not a great baker.  Or cook.  Or dishwasher…But color me surprised when I found out all you need is popped popcorn, sugar, light corn syrup and flavored Jello!  I will be making this.  A lot.  And then buying bigger pants.

add flavored Jello for candy flavorYou make an easy syrup mixture on the store and add the Jello for flavoring.

Add candy mixture to popped popcornSimply pour the syrup over popped popcorn and stir to coat.  Whenever I made caramel corn I buy a disposable roasting pan from the store.  It makes stirring easy especially when you’ve got hot sugar your dealing with which is just waiting to coat your finger and leave you an unpleasant burn.  Not that it has happened…This also makes clean up a cinch since you just throw the pan away when done instead of having to clean of that hard candy coating.  But this is also wasteful.  So I should really just buy a legit roasting pan.  But then I would have no where to store it.  And that, my friends, is my inner dialogue.

candy popcorn and my husbandAnd this is my husband.  I think he was feeling left out because our kids are always in posts.  He wouldn’t leave until I took a picture.  But he’s pretty cute so I decided to leave him in.  But if your husband isn’t as cute, just skip this part.

close up of candy popcorn on sheet panThen you spread out the coated popcorn on a baking sheet to finish off in the oven.  This steps makes it crispy instead of gooey.  Gooey is fine too, but a good crunch never hurt anything.  You can sort of make out some little gold hearts here.  Remember when I added stars to champagne?  Well I also had the edible hearts.  And they just make sense to use on a Valentine’s Day snack.  We added them to the popcorn before baking so they would stick to it.

candy popcorn with hearts for Valentine's DayAnd there you have it.  Super easy candy popcorn for Valentine’s Day.  Or any day.  Kid’s love this, in case you had any doubts.  And those hearts make it super romantic.

Perfect snack for Valentine's DayJust add some heart candies and homemade vanilla bean marshmallows (see I told you Kristin is awesome) and you’ve got the perfectly adorable Valentine’s spread.

Recipe from Jello Rainbow Popcorn Recipe

Ingredients:

8 cups popped popcorn (I have a microwavable bowl that I use with kernals but you can also use plain microwavable bags if you have to)

1/4 cup (1/2 stick) margarine – can also use butter but my food allergic son can eat it if I use his margarine = happy kid

3 TBSP light corn syrup

1/2 cup sugar

1 package (4 serving size) any flavor Jello – not the sugar free kind.  Gross.  We used cherry.  Amazeballs.

Preheat the oven to 300 degrees.  Line a baking sheet with foil and spray foil with a small bit of cooking spray so it won’t stick.  Set aside.

Place margarine and corn syrup in small saucepan on medium heat and stir until butter is melted.  Add sugar and Jello.  Stir to combine and until Jello is completely dissolved.

Bring to a boil on medium heat.  Reduce heat to low and simmer for 5 minutes.

In a large bowl, mix popped popcorn and syrup until well coated.  Spread on to prepared sheet pan and spread out evenly.  Bake 10 minutes.  Cool.  Remove from pan and break in to small pieces.  Or grab huge chunks and shove them in your face.

peach candy popcornKristin made this peach version of candy popcorn for Lauren’s bridal shower.  Mmmmmmmmmmmmmmm.

Thanks for doing this post with my Kristin!  Get excited.  Kristin is starting a blog where she is going to share a bunch more of her tutorials.  And not just on sweet treats.  She is a talented lady and has lots to share!

Image of peach popcorn by Dez and Tam

 

Everyday Treats are Better with COOL WHIP

 

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Thank you COOL WHIP for sponsoring this post. Join us on Facebook for inspiration and recipes for everyday treats. What you add makes it. #coolwhipmoms

My mom makes this delicious dessert using raspberry jello, COOL WHIP Whipped Topping and the most delicious pretzel crust that you ever did taste.  But it is a mutli-step recipe which means that I am unlikely to make it.  Skill wise I am capable.  But I’m lazy.  So I figured out how to get those great flavors from the full recipe in to a super easy afternoon snack for the kids and I.

Most days, the kid’s snack looks like this.  A mish mash of things in a bowl.  My oldest son loves to “cook” which means getting about 10 things out of the pantry and stirring them altogether in a giant bowl.

But some days deserve an extra special treat.  Maybe it is a delightfully warm Southern California afternoon.  Maybe the boys ate all of their lunch for once.  Or maybe I just want to make the boys smile extra big at snack time.  COOL WHIP makes our snack times extra special.  Our family doesn’t eat dessert after dinner (well I do, but the boys are already in bed.  I don’t like to share.) so snack time is where I can surprise them with sweet treats.

My mom’s recipe doesn’t contain chocolate chips but mine sure does.  And there is no real recipe.  This is one of those add what you like and leave out what you don’t type things.    Get yourself a container of fresh raspberries (although frozen would work as well, they would just be a little bit more wet), a bag of chocolate chips, some pretzels and COOL WHIP.  My sis was telling me about chocolate chip stuffed raspberries that she saw on Pinterest and I thought I would give it a shot.  Of course you can skip that step but those two flavors together are quite tasty together.  Crush up the pretzels in a plastic baggie to your desired consistency.  I kept them in pretty big chunks but a fine pretzel dust wouldn’t ruin anything.  And try to remember to put your COOL WHIP in the fridge to thaw ahead of time.

Grab a glass, bowl or jar (preferably one with a wider mouth than the one I used so it doesn’t get so messy when trying to layer the COOL WHIP like mine did) and add the ingredients like a parfait.  Don’t forget to finish it off with a dollop of  COOL WHIP!

The kids love it!  What normally would have a been a ho-hum everyday snack is made extra special by COOL WHIP.  It took everything I had not to eat the COOL WHIP off his cute little nose.

I made myself a fancy version in a vintage champagne coup.  Who says moms don’t need a special treat too?  And you know what else is made extra yummy with a little bit of COOL WHIP?

Fruit Loops!  I’m not kidding.  Try it!  There are very few products on the market that can make something common in to something super delicious and fun.  A spoonful of COOL WHIP does just that.

And don’t forget to see my post from last summer with another COOL WHIP based recipe that is a fave!!

 

Sponsored posts are purely editorial content that we are pleased to have presented by a participating sponsor. Advertisers do not produce the content. I was compensated for this post as a member of Clever Girls Collective, but the content is all my own.