Healthy Homebodies - by Leanne Ely - firstname.lastname@example.org - © 2005 - Used by permission
It's almost summer, and the kids will be home all day. They're whining and most of all, they're constantly hungry. So what's a mom to do? Feed 'em!
Kids need snacks, but not constant grazing. You need to make sure the snacks are healthy and are going to do them some good, nutritionally. Just giving them the junk that they clamor for from watching too much TV is going to keep them eating continually. It makes sense, if you think about it. When your children (or you for that matter) don't get the nutrition necessary, their bodies are still craving those nutrients and will keep signaling that it's time to eat - even after downing a bag of Doritos and drinking a whole liter of Pepsi. They might be temporarily full - but never satisfied because the body was never fed. See why good nutrition is so important?
So let's get a grip on this summertime food issue. Not having a plan (as we well know!) is a recipe for disaster. You know how to make a grocery list - how about adding some of these items on your list this week?
VEGGIE RANCH. I think my son will eat anything with ranch dressing on it. It's not my very favorite thing in the world nutritionally, but if you blend it up with some non-fat cottage, you've got a fairly decent dip. Add baby carrots, celery sticks, broccoli flowerettes and even some cherry tomatoes and you have a veggie platter they'll love. Keep your ready-to-go veggies (separated in big plastic zip-top bags) and dip (in a container) within easy reach and let that be your first answer when they ask. Remind your children to pour their dip into their own bowls - you just KNOW they're going to double dip!
FAVOR FRUIT. Summer is fruit season. Snip some grapes from the bunch and they have a great snack to go. A banana is a seasonless fruit and easy to grab, too. Watermelon is perfect this time of year with the heat and everything - why not have it sliced up and cold in the fridge, ready to go? Ditto that idea with any melon. You might even make up a fruit salad of honeydew and cantaloupe. My troops love this treat and grab the plastic bowl and help themselves when it's in the fridge. And don't forget the perennial favorite: apple slices dipped in peanut butter.
POP UP. I am a huge fan of popcorn. Lots of roughage (like your grandma used to say) and a fun snack that won't take major bites out of your budget, too. Use an air popper (way cheaper than the microwave kind and none of those nasty hydrogenated fats either) and add a teeny bit of butter. We also add a little grated Romano cheese. My kids love this!
NUTS TO YOU. I keep raw almonds in the fridge and will mix some almonds with dried apricots. Talk about your fiber count--yee haw! Plus the added bonus of all those nutrients.
Great snack for kids and adults alike!
CHEESE WHIZ. Not that icky stuff you squirt out on a cracker. But string cheese and cheddar cubes, for starters. Skip American cheese - it's not cheese but cheese "product." That should be enough to scare you away!
There's five easy ones - give them a try and see what works with your tribe. Above all, don't lose your cool this summer when they start asking for snacks - give them one of these and you're covered.
Leanne Ely provides the answer to, What's for dinner? at http://www.savingdinner.com and find the solution! Check out her best-selling books, Saving Dinner and Saving Dinner the Low Carb Way (Ballantine). Both books available everywhere.
Note from Lois: For cooling off, how about making fresh fruit smoothies into popsicles? Remember that a banana makes them creamier. Use strawberries, yogurt, frozen concentrated juices, etc. Also make a "walking apple" for walks or outdoor play with no garbage to toss. Core an apple, then plug the end with a dried apricot, fill with peanut butter and raisins, and plug up the top with another apricot or prune. Great camping or picnic snacks too!