Smarter After-School Snacks and Lunch Box Treats


Smarter After-School Snacks and Lunch Box Treats

Your little scholars have put in arduous hours of learning. Now they’re home and gearing up for homework sessions, extracurricular clubs and after school sports. Let’s get them fueled up with good food that they’ll actually want to eat.

These tasty treats can be easily served at breakfast, tucked away in lunch boxes or savored as mid-afternoon snacks. They are packed with flavor and highly portable. And, bonus points – they’re easy to make.

Do-It-Yourself Trail Mix

This is a super-simple recipe that the children can even prepare themselves.
For a grab-and-go snack make a large batch and divide it up into smaller airtight containers or snack bags and keep them where everyone can reach them.

1. Begin with a crispy, crunchy breakfast cereal. We prefer a whole grain oat cereal because it blends well with so many other flavors, but feel free to choose your family’s favorite. We just pour about 3 cups into a gallon size zipper bag.
2. Pick out a favorite nut (or if someone has a nut allergy, pick a seed). Pour 1 cup of nuts into the bag with the cereal. Some of our favorites are:
Almonds
Walnuts
Pecans
Cashews
3. Choose a dried fruit or even mixed dried fruits. We love dried cherries, dried mango and dried blueberries. Measure out about a 1/2 cup of the fruit. Note: If you’re using mango slices, dried plums or any of the larger fruits, you may want to dice them up first.
4. Now add a seed. Try something nutty like pumpkin seeds for a nice crunch. Or, the ever-popular and equally tasty sunflower seeds. And for a smooth and buttery flavor with lots of crunch, you may like roasted soybeans. We like to mix in 1 cup, but adjust the amount to your liking.

Red apples in basket on dark wood

Apples

These are ridiculously simple to make and they are a great craft project and snack rolled into one. Little ones will love to build their own apple snacks. Think of them as little fruit pizzas.

Wash and core one apple and then slice horizontally into disks – as thick as you prefer, don’t make them too thin as they won’t hold up to the toppings and they’ll be difficult for small hands to pick up. Pat each slice dry so the toppings stick a bit better.

Now the fun part – top with your favorites – slather on a small bit of peanut butter, almond butter, soy nut butter, sunflower seed butter, pumpkin seed butter or even honey; whatever you and your family prefer and is sticky enough to hold more toppings. Let little ones spread their own butter or honey and sprinkle on their toppings.

Decorate with dried fruit, crushed pretzels, coconut, seeds, nuts, veggie dices, fresh fruit dices, literally anything scrumptious and small enough to fit on a disk of apple.

Note: To make this a lunch box treat, simply put the nut butter spread into a sandwich bag and cut a small hole in one of the bottom corners. Secure that corner with a twist tie, so your child can untie it at lunch and squeeze the spread out of the bag with ease. Use additional bags or resealable containers to hold the other toppings. Now, your little ones have a build-your-own snack for school.

Craveable, Crunchable Chickpeas

Crunchy, salty, savory snacks are calling out to you. Treat your taste buds to this simple, smart protein-packed goodie anytime you are craving a satisfying crunch.

Roasted Chickpeas Recipe

2 cans chickpeas (garbanzo beans) or about 4 cups cooked chickpeas from dried beans
2 tablespoons olive oil
seasonings of your choice (see below for suggestions)

 

Directions:

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
Prepare the beans for roasting by draining and rinsing them. Let the beans dry on a towel until most of the excess moisture is absorbed.
Spread on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat. Roast the chickpeas in the oven for 45-60 minutes or until the beans are crunchy throughout. Test for doneness by tasting one. If they are still soft on the inside and there’s no crunch, keep baking and check every few minutes. (While the beans are baking, mix up 2 tablespoons of olive oil with your seasonings.)
Immediately (while beans are still hot), toss with olive oil and seasonings. Serve hot or at room temperature. They are super crunchy the first day, but you can keep them in an airtight container for up to 4 days.

 

Seasoning Suggestions

1. Spicy Lemon – 1 teaspoon grated lemon peel, 1/2 teaspoon sea salt, 1 teaspoon garlic powder, 1/2 teaspoon of cayenne pepper, 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
2. Sesame – replace 1 teaspoon of olive oil with 1 teaspoon of sesame oil, 1 teaspoon garlic powder, 1/2 teaspoon sea salt, 1 tablespoon sesame seeds
3. Garlic Parmesan – 1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese, 1 teaspoon garlic & herb seasoning, 1/4 teaspoon fresh cracked pepper, 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
4. Smoky Spice Blend – 1/2 teaspoon ancho chile powder, 1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika, 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder, 1/2 teaspoon cumin, 1/4 teaspoon fresh cracked pepper, 1/2 teaspoon sea salt, pinch of cayenne pepper
5. Sweet Honey Cinnamon – 1 teaspoon cinnamon, a pinch nutmeg, a pinch of ground ginger, 1/4 teaspoon sea salt, 2 tablespoons honey. Also, putting the coated chickpeas back in the oven for a few minutes with the honey glaze will give them a deep, caramel flavor.

Because chickpeas have a delicate flavor, there is practically no end to the flavor combinations. Your imagination is your only limitation. The same principle applies for the trail mix and the apple snacks – you can get as wild as you like. Mix it up with different sweet flavors paired with bold spices for something truly unique your whole family will enjoy.

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