raspberries

Snacktime can be one of the biggest hassles in a Mom’s day. It’s usually a busy time (late afternoon when you’re trying to figure out dinner or finish up the day’s to-do list), the kids are cranky, and the last thing you want to do is stop and actually make something. Before you resort to “fresh” from-the-package, nutritionally-void snack foods, take a look at these five snack options. All of them can be made ahead of time, when you’re already in the kitchen cooking; and all of them get a positive response from hungry kids and health-conscious Moms.

Peanut Butter Granola
Adapted from this recipe by HonorMyHealth blog.
Makes about 3 1/2 cups

3 cups old fashioned, rolled oats
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup peanut butter (natural, with no added sugar, is good; you can also use another nut butter if you have peanut allergies)
1/2 cup honey, molasses, or agave nectar
4 tablespoons oil (coconut, grapeseed, or other mild oil; olive oil is too strong for this recipe)
1 tablespoon high quality vanilla extract
Your choice of mix-ins – dried cranberries, dried cherries, dried tropical fruit, coconut flakes, nuts, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, chocolate chips, peanut butter chips…

  • Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. In a large bowl, mix the oats and salt together. Set aside. 
  • Heat the peanut butter, honey, and oil in a sauce pan until the ingredients are melted. Stir thoroughly to combine. Remove from heat and stir in the vanilla extract. 
  • Pour the peanut butter mixture over the oats and stir to coat all the oats. 
  • Spread the oats on a shallow pan (a cookie sheet with sides or jelly roll pan) and put in the oven for five minutes. Check and stir the oats, putting back in for three-minute increments until lightly browned. Be sure to check every three minutes as this can burn quickly.
  • Remove from heat, let cool, and stir in your other mix-ins. Store in an airtight container. 

Serve as is, with yogurt, ice cream, a smoothie, mashed banana, as cereal in the morning, however you like it.

Berry Bars
This is the most complicated recipe of the lot, but oh-so-worth-it. The original recipe, which I’ve tweaked to my liking, came from Smitten Kitchen. Originally tagged as breakfast bars, these luscious bites work great for an anytime snack or, of course, for a quick breakfast.

Crust and topping:
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
(or substitute 1 1/2 cups self-rising flour for all of the above)
1 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar
1 1/4 cups rolled oats
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, cut into 1-inch pieces

  • Heat the oven to 350. Combine all the ingredients in a large bowl or a food processor. Either use the food processor until the butter is reduced to small crumb-size pieces, or use a pastry blender to blend the butter into the flour. Reserve 1 1/2 cups of the mixture.
  • Butter a 9×13 inch baking dish. Pour the remaining crust mixture into the baking dish and spread out to the edges. Cook in the preheated oven for about 15 minutes.

Berry filling:
1/4 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 to 1 1/2 pounds organic berries, fresh or frozen (raspberries, blackberries, blueberries, a mix)
Juice from one lemon (or 1 – 2 tablespoons)
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled

  • Melt the butter and set aside. 
  • Combine the sugar, cinnamon, and flour in a medium bowl. Add the rinsed berries, the lemon juice, and the (now-cooled) melted butter. Toss gently until the berries are coated. 
  • Spread the berry filling over the cooked crust. Sprinkle the reserved crust mixture on top of the berry mixture. Return to the oven for about 40 minutes. 
  • Remove from the oven and let cool for a few minutes, then cut into bars and set on a wire rack to cool completely. 

Pink Hummus and Veggies
Not so much a recipe as a new twist on an old favorite, this idea came from the “Smart School Time Recipes” ebook by Alisa Marie Fleming.

  • Combine 1 cup of your favorite hummus (store-bought or homemade, your choice) with 1 large canned beet. Blend together in your blender or food processor for a pink and slightly sweet take on the ordinary hummus. Kids like the sweet tang, and girls especially like the color.

Serve with crackers, pita chips, and lots of fresh yummy vegetables. Pre-cut your vegetables for easy snack time.

White Bean Dip
This easy, make-ahead dip is great, like hummus, with any kind of whole grain cracker or fresh veggies for dipping. Why do kids always like dips? No one knows, but this particular white bean dip makes it kind of obvious. I’ll fight my kids for the last bit in the bowl…

1 large (19-ounce) can white beans (cannellini, Northern) [If you have dried white beans you'd like to use, just cook them till soft and use about 2 1/2 cups for this recipe.]1 – 2 cloves roasted garlic (The roasted garlic is a milder flavor for kids.)
1 teaspoon lemon juice
Drizzle of olive oil
Optional: 1 small jar roasted red peppers (pimientos) for flavor and color. These aren’t spicy, just scrumptious.
Sea salt to taste

  • Combine all ingredients except salt in a blender or food processor, puree, and add salt to taste. That’s it, really; so simple, and so delicious. 

This also makes a great spread on a sandwich or bagel or piece of toast.

Smoothie Popsicles
This one also is not so much a recipe as a simple, homemade snack that’s sure to win with the kids. Smoothies: a full serving of fresh fruit, they’re sweet and fresh and kids love them. However, in the middle of a busy afternoon, who wants to pull out the blender? Here’s what you do instead:

  • When you’re in the kitchen cooking anyway (or anytime you make a smoothie), make up a big extra smoothie. Pour the smoothie into popsicle molds (if you have them) or ice cube trays or any smallish plastic food container. Stick a popsicle stick in each one (the ice cube tray version can just be popped out, sans popsicle stick). 

Serve these as popsicles, which is essentially what they are, and which I’ve never heard a kid complain about eating even in the winter. These make a great substitute when you don’t have time to stop and peel the orange, or when you just ate the last banana, or when the kids really want something sweet and you’re trying to avoid more sugar.

Image: ilovemypit