Talk about a crazy couple of weeks with Hurricane Isaac. I know it left many of us either on the road for hours to higher and dryer land, or stranded afloat in our own homes with no power for days! We are sending our thoughts to all of you in hopes that you suffered no damage during this brutal storm.
Emma and I actually stayed in Texas with my parents to avoid the storm, and even though we were safe and out of harm’s way, our “on-the-go” schedule persisted. When you pick up and travel like that, it’s hard to stick to your daily routine and daily grocery stop to Whole Foods or Fresh Market! I’ve gotten so spoiled having a Whole Foods, Fresh Market and the Farmer’s Market within blocks of my house that when I go anywhere, even to grandma’s house, their snacks will just have to do. I’ve been pretty particular about what Emma eats and really try to push organic, whole grain foods. It’s hard to stick to this when you’re on the road, traveling in an unfamiliar city, etc. But, I did learn a lot these past two weeks about healthy snacking on-the-go for kiddos (and myself!) after being on the road, stuck at grandma’s house and without power upon our return home! When we got back to New Orleans and started cleaning out the fridge, it was really hard to throw out all that healthy (but now spoiled) food. That’s why I thought for this week’s post we could talk about some healthy snacks to take on the road, on the go, or just keep around the house for an afternoon rainstorm (hopefully not another hurricane anytime soon). It’s a good time to clean the fridge and fill it with lots of healthy and fun kid-approved foods!
Cheese: The protein in this kid-friendly snack keeps energy levels high until dinnertime. We like to stick salt-free pretzel sticks into cubes of low-fat cheese to make “cheesy stick figures,” but you can also make cheese more interesting to kids by cutting it into fun shapes with a cookie cutter and making kabobs with your favorite fruit. Our favorite cheese sticks are Sargento Natural Blends Double Cheddar Cheese sticks and the Laughing Cow Mini Babybels (which can be safely stored in cool, dry conditions for a limited length of time rather than in the fridge).
Peanut Butter: This childhood favorite has plenty of protein and fiber. For something new, try making PB&J sandwiches with toasted mini waffles or rice cakes (if I do use bread, I toast it beforehand to keep it from getting soggy). I started Emma on the Natural Peanut Butter and Almond Butter, so just be sure to check the packages before you buy – some nut butters contain lots of sugars. If you don’t have time to make a sandwich, grab a Sammy Jammy or Grammy by Plum Organics. They are individually wrapped and one of Emma’s favs!
Pretzels: Rich in carbohydrates but low in fat, pretzels give kids plenty of energy to keep on going. We buy twists and sticks, but there are shapes and sizes to suit any fancy. If you’re concerned about nutrition, look for the whole-grain variety, which will have more fiber, and the unsalted or low-sodium packages. And why not add something extra fun – like hummus or mustard for dipping. We use Synders Organic Whole Wheat & Oat Sticks made with organic whole wheat flour, organic oat flour and oat bran, organic chia seeds and sweetened with organic blue agave syrup and organic sunflower oil.
Snack Mix/Homemade Trail Mix: Make a big batch of your own snack mix. You can make it as nutritious as you want and tailor the ingredients to your taste. We mix up almonds and other nuts; dried cranberries, raisins and other dried fruits; pumpkin seeds and shelled sunflower seeds; whole grain Goldfish crackers, dry cereal — anything you like. Nuts contain must-have minerals such as magnesium, iron, and zinc. Emma loves the Multigrain Cheerios, Sun-Maid Vanilla Yogurt Raisins and raw Almond mix. Raisins have a lot of good things going for them such as fiber, potassium, and vitamins. If you have a favorite snack mix for your kiddo, please share it! We’re all about trying something new.
Popcorn: This is a natural whole-grain food that’s high in fiber. It’s also naturally low in fat. If you pop and season the popcorn yourself, you can make sure that it’s tasty and stays healthy. Corn popped in an air popper is good (just use canola or another healthy oil to cook it in). Lower-fat microwave popcorn is also fine. We like to add a little Parmesan cheese, garlic powder, chili seasoning mix or other dry spices to ours.
Here’s our favorite Cheesy Chili Popcorn recipe!
8 cups popped popcorn
1 tablespoon butter or margarine, melted (optional)
1 teaspoon chili powder
1/8 teaspoon garlic powder
2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
Eggs: One egg provides a 4-year-old with almost one-third of their protein requirements for the day. Keep a bunch of hard-boiled eggs in the fridge (they last for about seven days), or scramble an egg and roll it up in a flour tortilla. Hard-boiled eggs are so easy to take on the go, for Emma and Mommy! What an “Egg”-cellent idea!
Sweet Potatoes: Sweet spuds are some of the most nutritious vegetables around: They’re packed with vitamin A and are good sources of B6, C, and folate. These simple, delicious chips are a great alternatives to the greasy, store-bought variety. I’ve made my own in the oven, but when we’re on-the-go, we grab the Terra Sweet Potato Chips. Emma loves the sweet n’ tasty flavor.
Smoothies: Kids go crazy over these delicious “drinkable” treats, and they’re packed with nutrients. Use nonfat vanilla Greek yogurt, 100 percent orange juice, and a banana as the smoothie’s base, then experiment with a combination of fresh or frozen fruit. It’s a great way to sneak two or three servings of fruit and fiber into your child’s diet.
Dried Fruit and Veggies: Emma loves fresh fruit and veggies, but it’s not always easy to travel with it. I recently introduced her to dried fruits and veggies like kiwi, strawberries, banana chips, and carrot and zucchini chips. I don’t think she prefers dried over fresh, but it’s definitely one of her new favorite snacks! We found them at Fresh Market on St. Charles Avenue.
Oatmeal: What kid doesn’t love cookies for snack time? Instead of buying the high-sugar, high-fat varieties from the store, I bake up my own batch of low-fat Oatmeal Cookies. I add in things like raisins, cranberries, dried apricots, or nuts to boost the nutritional value and taste. I usually make a big batch the night before and then take some cookies to go with a Horizon milk box – milk and cookies!
Hopefully this gave you some new, healthy snack ideas to try the next time you’re on-the-go with your kiddos! There’s no need to skimp on nutrition, even when time is short. If your kids are on the go as much as you are, having healthy snack options on hand will make life so much easier. We are faced with growing levels of childhood obesity in our culture today, so start now by laying the foundation for a lifetime of healthy snacking for your children – don’t let your busy schedule get in the way of something so important.