Thursday, August 30, 2012

Choose Your Snacks Wisely & Get Creative

Around 10:30 in the morning or so, we take a break from school to "refuel" and have some snacks to help us make it through until lunch. This is probably more important for younger children in PreK - 3rd. There is so much energy being burned up by their little bodies and active brains, that eating more frequently is a must.

But to be honest, I think older children (and adults!) could benefit from eating smaller portions more frequently, too. The key, though, is what you eat. Instead of chips, cookies, or other sugary snacks, try more fruits, whole grains, and dairy products. Yogurts, bagels, muffins, bananas, apples, a glass of milk, and cheese are all great ideas for snacking.

I really loved the healthy snacks many of you shared on the MommyMaestra Facebook page when I asked which ones were your favorites. You gave me a lot of ideas to try out...

Thanks, Everyone!

Sometimes all you need is the perfect container. Nibble trays of carrots, grapes, cheese, and crackers are easy to make and enticing to people of just about any age. And just last week, we found these plastic popcorn holders at our local dollar store. My son was so excited to get home and make some popcorn (in our popcorn maker!), fill the holders, and gobble it all down.

During the weekends or for after school snacks, you might have more time to get creative with food. When your kids are craving sugary foods, make simple sandwiches irresistible with cookie cutters in shapes your kids recognize. A dinosaur or Millennium Falcon turkey sandwich is more likely to eaten with less resistance than a plain square one! (Trust me on this.)

Making food art is along similar lines and immediately develops a story in your child's head. It also nurtures their creative spirit, inspiring them to create their own edible masterpieces. You can encourage them to eat more fruits and veggies by supplying them with pieces of food and an empty plate or muffin tin and challenging them to put together a scene or character. Take a look at my Pinterest board on Food Art for inspiration.

One of my newest and most favorite tools for getting my kids to eat more fruit is the ZOKU New Triple Quick Pop Maker that makes three paletas (popsicles) at a time in as little as seven minutes. It is easy and fun and my kids love it to pieces. I love the fact that we are making desserts that are healthy and nutritious because we only use fresh ingredients, mostly fruits.

The Zoku is really easy to use. I didn't know very much about it when I got it, and thought you had to plug it in. So my kids were a little disappointed when we took it out of the box and realized it had to sit in the freezer for 24 hours before using it. But the next day? Whoa! We made sandía paletas by blending up watermelon slices - seeds and all - in a blender then pouring the puree into the Zoku. Less than 10 minutes later my kids were licking away, happy as they could be. (More about the educational benefits of this product coming soon!)

For our next round we added strawberry slices before pouring in the watermelon. We were thrilled with our beautiful and edible creations. Cantaloupes, peaches, even orange juice all freezes nicely. Throw in a few blueberries or banana slices to add texture and color. You can even simply pour in chocolate milk and - vaya! - instant (wholesome) chocolate popsicles. I got their Quick Pops recipe book, too. It is full of yummy goodness! I will never buy a popsicle again. Just looking at the ingredients on the packaging makes me ill.

Take a look at how easy it is to make these healthy paletas!

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