SNACKS - We all eat them. We all enjoy them. We all feed them to our kiddos. Snacks seem like a harmless thing but could be causing more problems than you might realize. More often than not, we rely on processed snacks and those can be more expensive than you think, less nutritious than you think, and don’t ever really satiate your hunger. The worst part is, however, that they can be very addictive - and this is by design. Companies spend billions of dollars on research and development to make sure each chip has the perfect crunch and that a snack is salty, but not too salty. That it is sweet but not too sweet. You must know exactly what I’m talking about... the reason we crave crispy chips to accompany a soft and chewy sandwich, a sweet soft drink to sip with our savory burger. Snacks are supposed to be a nutritious boost of energy that helps hold back the hunger pains between meals, but this is no longer the purpose they are serving.
Snacking, in the way that most of us do it, is one of the primary causes that kiddos have so much trouble eating nutritiously at mealtime. Our little ones aren’t dumbies. They know that if they don’t eat their nutritious eggs at breakfast or carrot sticks at lunch, they can hold out for the “good stuff,” the goldfish or fruit gummies when they get in the car or sit to watch big sisters soccer practice. I totally understand this dilemma. Even with a good lunch, kids get hungry between meals, and it is all too easy to indulge - or even entertain - them with some tasty snacks as I try to get some work done or wait for big sis to finish her dance class. And when I don’t, my youngest daughter goes so far as to befriend other moms that she knows will feed her the ‘good’ snacks.
The war on snacks is one we can’t win. Unless we don’t play. Which I know as a mom is almost impossible, I've been known to offer up snacks in exchange for good behavior. That’s why it’s important to be selective with the snacks we purchase to ensure we are filling our kids up with nutrient dense foods. Foods that provide their growing bodies (and heck, ours too) the nutrients required to function as optimally as possible. The other big reason we need to pay attention to snacking is that we are teaching our kiddos habits for the future. If they grow to expect a bag of chips and a few oreos when they get home from kindergarten, by the time they are in high school, and making most of their food choices on their own, it will be a lot less likely that those choices will be healthy ones.
I recently hosted a healthy snacking workshop for a Clovis Unified elemengtary school. My favorite part was getting hands on and making healthy snacks with the parents. Showing them how to let kids get involved in the food decisions and preparation process, thereby empowering them to make good decisions with confidence.
One of my favorite snacks is protein bites. There are several ways to make them and several recipes on the internet. I usually use some sort of nut for protein and healthy fat and either honey or pure maple syrup for sweetener. Today’s recipe has 5 simple ingredients and is so easy to make. Little Miss asked to make them as her afternoon snack. Because she is only 3 years old, I helped to prep a little more than if she were older. I measured the peanut butter into the measuring cup and helped with the honey (because huge mess) but did let her scoop the other dry ingredients to fill the cups.
1 cup old fashioned oats
1/2 cup nut buter (almond, peanut, cashew)
1/3 cup honey
1/4 cup dark chocolate chips
2 TB chia seeds
Place all ingredients in a food processor and blend until a dough like consistency forms. Roll the mixture into golf ball size balls. Store in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 1 week.
Makes 12 balls.