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What's Cooking? Cookies, Cupcakes, and Chips - No Way!

Summer is soon over…no more leisurely hikes under the umbrella of solitude in the woods, nor feeling the gentle waves at the beach serenely stroking  the tensions away.  Fun-filled days of vacation are winding down.  It’s that time again!  We have started the fervor of getting the kids ready for school. We hunt for school supplies and backpacks, shopping for clothing they have outgrown, arranging our schedules to align with work and school, and thinking of ideas for the kids’ lunches and snacks.

With the emphasis of healthy eating in our schools, junk food is a “no-no”.  As a matter of fact, many schools have sent letters home mandating the parents to provide only healthy snacks to bring to class. Cookies, cupcakes, chips and fruit roll-ups will face rejection.  Thus fresh fruits and vegetables, which are nutritious, low in fat and sugar, are very healthy snacks. Who can resist a jewel box of fruits like grapes, mango, strawberries, apples, blueberries or kiwis along with an assortment of julienned vegetables?  Kids love dipping. The crunchy crudités become more fun and attractive with the accompaniment of healthy dips such as guacamole, a silky hummus, an exotic Thai peanut dip, or a flavorful bean dip using black beans, lentils, pinto or black-eyed beans.  Cheese spread with raisins comfortably fill in the hollow of each celery stick and thinly cut apple slices complement both sweet and savory dips. Flatbreads such as oven baked pita breads, tortillas, and wonton wraps make crispy chips for dips or used as the base for toppings of salsa, cheese or honey with chopped nuts.

Wraps and pinwheels are versatile with its many fillings and easily cut up in bite-sized pieces. Be creative and combine ingredients that your children like to eat.  How about tortillas roll-up layered with a spread of cream cheese, sliced turkey, and a sprinkle of cranraisins or triangles of quesadillas with Monterey jack cheese melted over sliced grape tomatoes or pinwheels wrapped in lavish filled with apple, granola, and drizzle with honey?  Salads are a wonderful light snack.  Delight the eyes by arranging in a small container with soft lettuce on the bottom, rainbow rows of chopped avocado, chicken, cherry tomatoes, and hard-boiled eggs on the top. Here is your Cobb salad!   Black bean corn salad, tabbouleh, and quinoa salad fit perfectly in colorful portion sized bowls for children.   If we eat healthy, our children will too.

Some of these snacks require some prep work but they are well worth it.  A fun snack to prepare with the kids is portable cereal bars or granola bars. The good thing is there is no baking involved. Simple snacks like flavored popcorn, pretzels, finger Jello, cheese and crackers, dried fruits and nuts are always on hand when life gets hectic. Go for it if they make life easier.  Here is a tip: Need more ideas? I find them in books on appetizers or finger foods.  Appetizers are bite-sized just perfect as snacks for both kids and grownups. Who can say no to healthy snacks like jalapeno cheddar corn sticks, stuffed cucumber cups, or baked empanadas? Our favorite is the scrumptious mini muffin-sized quiches, so delicious!  Now I will go back to my snack of kettle potato chips and chocolate chip cookies without any guilt.  Everything in moderation! ;-)

Big snacks, Little Meals: After School, Dinnertime, Anytime by Rose Dunnington

Real Snacks: Make Your Favorite Childhood Treats Without all the Junk
by Lara Ferroni

Tiny Food Party: Bite-Size Recipes for Miniature Meals by Terri Lynn Fisher

The Sneaky Chef: Simple Strategies for Hiding Healthy Foods in Kids’ Favorite Meals by Missy Chase Lapine

Best Lunch Box Ever by Kaite Sullivan Morford

Salty Snacks: Make Your Own Chips, Crisps, Crackers, Pretzels, Dips, and Other Savory Bites by Cynthia Nims

Appetizers by Pillsbury

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