Posts tagged ‘healthy snacks’
Happy Sunday! This week, Chipper snacked on and played with one of his favorite nutritious foods, celery! Normally, Chipper picks up some celery every week at the super market. Did you know that celery provides anti-inflammatory health benefits? Or that the crunchy vegetable contains antioxidants such as vitamin C and flavonoids that help protect us from unwanted oxygen damage to our cells, organs, and blood vessels? It does!
This week, Chipper created flower prints from celery. It is an easy craft that can be created with materials that are lying around at home. All you need is: celery, a knife, paint, and a piece of paper! Here’s how:
First, take your bunch of celery and cut off the bottom.
Then, dip the bottom portion of the celery stalk in to paint and stamp away! Chipper used red paint.
The celery stalk ends up creating these fun, flower shaped objects.
Here’s Chipper‘s end product.
Chipper cut up the rest of the celery stalk and enjoyed it with some peanut butter.
According to an article by Harvard Health Publications, peanut butter has fiber, vitamins, and mineras, among other nutrients. Unsalted peanut butter contains a terrific potassium-to-sodium ratio, which “counters the harmful cardiovascular effects of sodium surplus….even salted peanut butter still has about twice as much potassium as sodium.” In addition, many research studies have concluded that people who “regularly include nuts or peanut butter in their diets are less likely to develop heart disease or type 2 diabetes than those who rarely eat nuts.”
With this craft and snack, teach your child the importance of being creative and snacking right all at the same time!
Let’s Go Chipper for creativity and healthy snacking!
Nothing puts a dent in your day like discovering moldy, wrinkled fruits and veggies in your kitchen. Here are four natural tricks to keep your produce fresher, longer! Are you Chipper for fresh food?
Case #1: Moldy Berries
The tragic tale of berries gone bad too soon (but they were so new!) doesn’t have to plague your kitchen any longer. All you have to do is take your berries, soak them in a bowl of vinegar and water, dry in a salad spinner, and put in a partially sealed, towel-lined bowl and voila! — they will be mold-free for up to seven days! Hopefully by that time you’ll have already used them in a delicious berry smoothie! Add some to your family’s morning cereal or in some yogurt as a tasty yet healthy snack!
Case #2: Browning Avocados
Avocados make for great party guacamole, but nobody wants to dip their chips in a bowl full of browned mush (besides, it tastes funny). Avocados turn brown when they contact oxygen. So, simple solution: don’t let air near your avocados. Many try to do this with plastic wrap or sealed containers. But let’s face it — that never works very well. (Plus, food doesn’t like plastic!) Instead, put the cut avocado in a bowl on top of some onion slices. Th e sulfur in onion’s will slow down the browning process! Plus, they’ll taste extra good when your make that guac!
Case #3: Ailing Apples
Avoiding ailing apples can be somewhat tricky. While uneaten apples are generally resilient to molding or bruising for about a week or even two, the moment you slice them open, they remain white for only a few minutes before they begin to turn yellow and brown…then your little ones probably won’t like to eat them when they open their school lunch! This doesn’t mean your apples are no longer fresh — really, they are! But the immediate browning can make it appear that those slices have been sitting out for a while. The reason for this? Apples, similar to potatoes, have a special enzyme in them that reacts when exposed to oxygen. The reaction forms a type of rust on the surface of the apple that we see as the browning effect, and it actually does cause the apple to spoil at a slow rate.
But there is hope! In order to keep your apples looking fresh, simply do the following:
After you cut your apple slices, immediately soak them into a bowl of cold water mixed with salt (about 1/8 of a cup of table salt mixed in one quart of water per apple). Afterward, rinse the apples under cold water. It won’t leave an overwhelming salty taste. Because salt acts as a preservative, it does just that: preserves the apple from oxidizing! Or, if you’d like to keep your fruits a bit more citrusy, you can also soak your apples in lemon juice, orange juice, or any other type of acidic juice, which will counter the oxidization process as well. Your healthy treat shouldn’t just taste good — it should look good too!
Case #4: Atrophied Asparagus
Packed with fiber, antioxidants, and vitamins, asparagus is always a great vegetable to add to your diet. Yet while it is renowned for the health benefits it provides, it is simultaneously notorious for its shelf life. Asparagus stored in the refrigerator lasts for only about two days after it is has been bought from the market. If you are an avid asparagus eater, you know that the stalks shrink in size, crispness, and taste if you don’t cook them within 48 hours. Their shriveled and wrinkled appearance isn’t an indication that the thermostat in your fridge is too low, but a result of asparagus’s respiration rate (or the rate in which fruits and vegetable spoil), which is high. Of course, the best way to enjoy this delicious veg is to cook it the day it’s bought. But that isn’t always going to be the case!
So here’s your plan B. Another great way to ensure that your asparagus doesn’t become your next produce casualty is to do the following:
Cut off about an inch from the bottom of the stalks. Then, store upright in a cup, vase, or jar of room-temperature water. Lastly, cover the tops of the asparagus with a plastic bag (grocery bags or ziplocs will work) to retain moisture, and store in the refrigerator. Your asparagus will last a few days longer and taste new and fresh!
Recipe: Kale Krispies
We are so Chipper for kale! This versatile veggie is a good source of potassium, calcium, and vitamins A and C. Making a salad or sauteing it with some garlic are some standard ways to enjoy kale. Sometimes though, our eyes are bigger than our stomachs and that big bunch of kale is starting to look a little wilted. So is it time to throw it out? No way! Instead, make a healthy snack for when you’re on-the-go. Kale chips are easy to bake and super tasty so your kids will love this healthy snack as well as you!
- a bunch (or two!) of kale
- 1-2 teaspoons of extra virgin olive oil (depending on batch size)
- sea salt
- cookie sheet(s)
- parchment paper
- a mixing bowl
Preheat your oven to 375 degrees and prep your cookie sheet(s) with parchment paper.
Rinse off the kale and remove the stem. You should now have some generous-size strips of kale. Tear the strips into smaller pieces and toss it in the bowl.
Drizzle (lightly) with olive oil and add a few dashes of sea salt.
At this point, you could spread the kale out on your prepped cookie sheet(s), pop them in the oven for 12-15 minutes (or until slightly browned around the edges) and come out with some yummy kale snacks.
You get a little creative with it! Add some crushed red pepper flakes to give it a little heat or whatever other seasonings you or the Kids love! Or add a lemon to the mix for some extra flavor. Maybe try some parmesan cheese or hickory BBQ seasoning on a batch. There are tons of possibilities, but whether you’re a vegetarian or just want to try something new, you’ll be addicted to kale chips before you know it! Let’s Go Chipper and eat some fresh and healthy food!
School’s started up again and making sure your child stays focused and alert during the day depends a lot on what and how much they are eating! Encourage mid-morning or afternoon snacks to keep you little ones energized. Tuck one of these healthy goodies into their backpack so they can have something to nibble on during the long school day.
The snacks below are packed with the flavors kids love, and the critical protein, whole grains, and vitamins they need to be their best! Each one provides a bit of sweetness for flavor and a burst of energy, plus vital nutrients, vitamins, and minerals. Having a tasty snack to munch on after school (when they are always impatient for some sort of food) also helps your children to avoid cheap junk food that may be available around or on school grounds. Try five these snacks out to have a Chipper school year!
1) Ants on a Log
This healthy snack is one that kids can make all on their own. Simply spread some crunchy peanut butter and sweet raisins over celery for a smart snacking option.
- 5 stalks celery
- 1/2 cup peanut butter
- 1/4 cup raisins
- Cut the celery stalks in half. Spread with peanut butter. Sprinkle with raisins.
2) Apple Cinnamon Bran Mini-Muffins
A big muffin is often too much for a little kid. These bite-size bran muffins, made with the goodness of apple and cinnamon, are perfect for preschoolers to preteens and are just the right size for snacking between meals.
- 1-1/4 cups (300 mL) natural bran (not cereal)
- 1 cup (250 mL) all purpose flour
- 1/2 cup (125 mL) brown sugar
- 2-1/2 tsp. (12 mL) baking powder
- 1/2 tsp. (2 mL) cinnamon
- 1/2 cup (125 mL) milk
- 1/3 cup (75 mL) vegetable oil
- 2 eggs
- 1 medium apple, peeled and finely chopped
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F (180 degrees C). Grease the cups in two mini muffin pans.
- In a large bowl, stir together the bran, flour, brown sugar, baking powder and cinnamon. In another bowl, whisk together the milk, oil and eggs. Add the milk mixture to the bran mixture, stirring until just combined. Fold in the chopped apple.
- Spoon batter into the prepared muffin pans, filling each cup to the top. Bake for 12 to 14 minutes or until a toothpick poked into the middle of a muffin comes out clean.
- Makes 20 to 22 miniature muffins.
3) Apple Autumn Salad
This tart and tangy fruit salad tosses together tart green apples, dried cranberries, cherries and almonds in a refreshing vanilla yogurt for a delightful taste of fall.
- 4 tart green apples, cored and chopped
- 1/4 cup blanched slivered almonds, toasted
- 1/4 cup dried cranberries
- 1/4 cup chopped dried cherries
- 1 (8 ounce) container vanilla yogurt
- In a medium bowl, stir together the apples, almonds, cranberries, cherries and yogurt until evenly coated.
4) Banana and Peanut Butter Wraps
Kids go bananas for these simple after-school snacks. The peanut butter and banana filling, sprinkled with raisins and drizzled with honey, is a wholesome way to satisfy their sweet and salty cravings.
- 1 (6 inch) flour tortilla
- 2 tablespoons peanut butter
- 1 tablespoon honey
- 1 banana
- 2 tablespoons raisins
- Lay tortilla flat. Spread peanut butter and honey on tortilla. Place banana in the middle and sprinkle in the raisins. Wrap, and serve.
5) Juicy Fruit Salad
Juicy to the core, this tropical blend of pineapple chunks, orange segments, diced apple, banana slices and grapes makes a sweet gesture for your little ones when they’re looking for a quick snack.
- 1 (15 ounce) can pineapple chunks with juice
- 1 apple – peeled, cored and diced
- 1 orange – peeled, diced and juice reserved
- 1 banana, sliced
- 1 cup seedless green grapes, halved
- In a large bowl, toss together the pineapple, apple, orange, banana and grapes. Add the juice from the pineapple and orange and let chill until serving.
School Lunch Advice for Kids at Every Age
Try the tips below to make your child’s lunch healthy AND worth looking forward to.
For home-packed lunches:
- Avoid the morning rush by preparing lunch the night before and chilling it in the refrigerator.
- Put slices of tomatoes in a separate bag or container so they don’t make sandwiches soggy.
- Instead potato or corn chips, pack a healthier alternative like veggie chips, bagel rounds, or baked tortilla crisps.
- Round out the meal with kid-sized veggies—baby carrots, celery sticks, or broccoli florets—and a low-fat or fat-free dip.
- Low-fat, high fiber mini muffins make a great dessert alternative to cupcakes or high-fat cookies.
- Use a cookie cutter to transform a plain square sandwich into something unique.
- Turn a container of low-fat yogurt into a complete meal by sending along some stir-ins like granola, trail mix, unsalted chopped nuts, or whole grain cereal.
- Consider alternatives to sandwich bread like burger buns, pita rounds, soft tortillas, and large lettuce leaves (for a no-sog wrap for savory fillings).
For school cafeteria lunches:
- Look over the cafeteria menu with your child ahead of time. Try to agree on items your child like and that are healthy.
- Ask the school’s parent-teacher group to arrange a presentation by the food service department. Express your interest in ensuring that healthy food choices be offered in school cafeterias and vending machines.
- Learn more about new laws requiring healthier school lunches at the Healthy Meals Resource System web site.
Advice and tips for safe lunches
To prevent food-related illness, following the guidelines below when preparing and packing lunches.
Watch the temperature. Harmful bacteria grow best between 40 degrees F and 140 degrees F, so it’s important to keep perishable foods outside this danger zone as much as possible. Foods susceptible to bacterial growth—especially high protein foods like meat, poultry, fish, dairy products, and eggs—should never be in the danger zone for more than two hours (one hour in warm weather conditions). Foods destined for the lunch box should be kept in the refrigerator until just before your child leaves for school.
To maintain lunch food at a cool temperature, pack a frozen juice box or water bottle in an insulated lunch bag; you can also use a freezable gel pack. Try to position the coldest item at the top of the bag since cool air settles.
Keep it clean. Always wash your hands (and your child’s) before preparing food. Wash them again after handling eggs or raw meat so you don’t cross contaminate other foods or surfaces. Be sure that utensils, counters, and cutting boards are also clean when you begin. If raw meat or eggs touches a surface, clean it with warm soapy water before allowing another food to come in contact with it.
Be aware of food hazards. Some common lunch foods pose health hazards than you might not expect. Some of the most common include:
- Raw eggs. Uncooked eggs may be contaminated with salmonella. Young children are especially susceptible to this harmful organism, so avoid giving them foods like homemade mayonnaise or uncooked eggnog.
- Peanuts. Children who are allergic to peanuts can have a life-threatening reaction to even microscopic amounts. This is why some schools have banned foods that contain peanuts. Unfortunately, many processed foods contain trace amounts of peanuts, even if they aren’t listed on the ingredient label. If you’re child attends school with a youngster who has a peanut allergy, be sure to pay attention to any guidelines given to you by the school. (To learn more about peanut and other food allergies, check out Medline.)
- Tuna. Albacore tuna—so-called “white” tuna—has relatively high levels of mercury. Though not considered dangerous for most adults, young children and pregnant women should avoid eating more than one meal (about six ounces) of albacore per week. Shrimp, canned light tuna, salmon, pollock, and catfish have less mercury, and are safe for up to two meals per week.
Is There Lead in Your Child’s Lunch Bag?
In 2005, tests by the U.S. Consumer Products Safety Commission revealed that some soft vinyl lunch carriers contained lead. Though the government insisted that the risk associated with these products is very low, parents have reason to be concerned. Lead is an insidious nerve toxin that can lead to retardation and other health problems. Young children are especially vulnerable to the effects of lead.
Although the Food and Drug Administration has asked manufacturers and suppliers to stop using lead in the lunch carriers, it is possible that these products remain in homes and on store shelves. It is also possible, though not likely, that other types of plastic lunch carriers might have lead in them.
To protect your child, consider taking these safeguards:
- Avoid soft lunch carriers made from vinyl (or PVC).
- Look for carriers from reputable suppliers that are certified as lead free.
- If you have a soft lunch carrier and want to know if it contains lead, pick up a home lead testing kit at a well-stocked hardware store or home center.
Check out these environmentally-safe Lunch Totes from Let’s Go Chipper! Perfect for school lunches or summer picnics!
Sometimes kids just need a little inspiration to try new things. There are a collection of ways to make food more fun! Encourage kids to play with their food so they’ll eat it with creative snacks like the Nutterfly! It’s a delicious, healthy snack from nut butter and apple slices that looks like a butterfly. It may taste the same as regular apples and peanut butter but your little ones will get much more excited about eating it when it looks like a Butterfly! The next time you are struggling to get your picky eaters to snack on nutritious food rather than processed junk, try this simple solution! As Chipper always says, “Healthy before sweet, can’t be beat!” but style can definitely come into play ; )
- Nut butter
- Simply make a nut-butter sandwich using apple slices, cut it into quarters, arrange the pieces as shown, and add a trimmed carrot stick. Getting you kids Chipper about healthy food has never been so easy-peazy lemon-squeezy!
Are you Chipper for fruit? Fruit is full of nutrients and a fruit smoothie is a delicious way to incorporate fruit into your daily diet. With smoothies, you and your kids are getting all the benefits of whole fruit in a drinkable form. Smoothies are quick and easy to make before you go to bed or in the morning before work and school. Increase the health benefits of a fruit smoothie by adding milk, yogurt or even a few vegetables. A fruit smoothie will curb your sweet tooth in a healthy way, reducing the risk of overeating or indulging in unhealthy sweets. Since many fruits are full of fiber, they improve your digestive regularity and keep you feeling fuller longer!
Fruit is full of various vitamins and minerals. Fruit is high in vitamin C, vitamin A, B vitamins and folic acid. Smoothies are also a good way to sneak in healthy fruit or veggies that you or the little ones may not like! Just cover up the taste with other fruits! Many fruits and berries that taste great in a smoothy are full of antioxidants.
During the summer, the kids are on the go! To camp, to the park, or beach days, they are in need of a energizing snack by the end of the day! Next time you are trying to plan a healthy, tasty snack for your little ones, try out these nutritious bites! They are easy to mass-produce and just as easy for players to pop in their mouths during halftime or whenever they need a boost. It’s one of Chipper’s favorite recipes since it includes nuts : )
- 1 small banana
- 1/2 cup chunky peanut butter
- 1/2 cup toasted wheat germ
- Finely chopped peanuts, mini-chocolate chips, or shredded coconut for coating
- In a medium bowl, mash together the banana and the peanut butter.
- Stir in the wheat germ. Roll individual tablespoons of the mixture into balls, then roll the balls in one, or a mix, of the coatings listed above. Chill until firm. Makes about 14 balls.
- Variation: For a peanut-free version, substitute sunflower-seed or soy-nut butter for the peanut butter, and omit the peanuts and chocolate chips (which can contain traces of peanut).
Summer veggies are in full stock at your local farmers markets and produce stores! As Chipper says, “Healthy before Sweet, Can’t be Beat!” Summer vegetables are low in fat, sodium and calories while high in potassium, helping to keep blood pressure at a healthy level. Get your kids to eat one to one and a half cups daily with this tasty summer recipe!
8 UNCOOKED lasagna noodles
1 TBSP. vegetable oil
1 MEDIUM onion
8 OZ. fresh mushrooms, sliced
1 MEDIUM eggplant, peeled and diced
1 (15 oz.) CONTAINER part-skim ricotta cheese
2 TSP. Italian seasoning
1 (26 to 28 oz.) JAR pasta sauce
8 OZ. part-skim mozzarella cheese, shredded
First, cook your lasagna noodles. Drain and cool. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a large non-stick skillet, heat oil. Add onion and cook until soft. Add mushrooms and cook about 5 minutes. Add eggplant and 1 teaspoon of Italian seasoning; stir. Cover and cook on low heat for 20 to 30 minutes, or until eggplant has softened. Combine ricotta cheese and 1 teaspoon of Italian seasoning in a bowl; set aside. In an ungreased 13×9-inch baking dish, spread 1/2 cup of the pasta sauce. Top with 4 lasagna noodles, half of the ricotta mixture, half of the cooked vegetables, and 1 1/4 cups of pasta sauce. Spread half of the shredded cheese evenly and repeat layers. Bake for 40 to 50 minutes, or until hot and bubbly. Let stand for 15 minutes before serving. Enjoy! (Makes 12 servings and each serving provides 250 calories, 12 grams of protein, 29 grams carbohydrates, 10 grams fat, 530 milligrams sodium, 3 grams fiber.)
Get healthy this summer by eating organic, in-season veggies like corn, green beans, spinach, tomatoes and zucchini! Use left over sauteed eggplant from this recipe with some diced tomatoes as a dip for crackers or store uncut, fresh eggplant in the refrigerator for 5 to 7 days later! Buy veggies from your local farmers market for the best quality and value and remember to always wash them before eating. Also, try out container gardening this summer with your kids by growing bell peppers, eggplants, and tomatoes in pots. They are beautiful, delicious, and filter the air! Get out and get Chipper after dinner by taking a 30-minute family walk to watch the sunset or talk about your yummy meal.
4 cups orange juice
Cut the tops off the oranges in a zigzag pattern. Hollow out the insides, remove the seeds and combine in a blender with the juice. Set the rinds in a muffin tin and fill with the mixture. Drop a cherry inside each orange. Freeze for 2 to 3 hours. Soften the treats for 5 minutes, then serve. Makes 4.
6 Popsicle sticks
1/4 cup peanut butter, softened
1/4 cup chopped peanuts or walnuts, granola, crispy rice cereal or sunflower seeds
Peel the bananas. Cut them in half, width wise, and push a Popsicle stick through the cut end of each half. Spread peanut butter on the bananas, then roll them in the nuts, cereal or seeds. Wrap them in waxed paper and freeze for 3 hours. Makes 6.
FROZEN FRUIT SALAD
Freeze the following bites for a fast and frosty treat: grapes, pineapple chunks, peach slices, apricot slices, banana slices, apple slices, cantaloupe balls, watermelon chunks, peas, zucchini slices, cucumber slices, orange wedges and fruit leather.