HOW TO PREPARE HEALTHY SNACKS FOR YOUR CHILDREN

Snacking for children

A woman wields the  greatest  power over her household as she determines what gets eaten in her house ,she determines how healthy her family will be and most of us forget the power we have.You solely can  set the course over what kind of eating habits your children will carry with them through out their lives and well into adulthood.

As a woman many times I have found myself  asking this very simple question- ” why am I  here?” .

I don’t know if many others struggle with the same question ?This   feeling  that even though I may be doing very well in my career,business,relationships….I am not yet quite there.

It feels like we are in some kind of waiting room,you know like the one at the docotrs where you have to wait out your turn?

Hospital waiting rooms and waiting rooms of any kind are interesting places to get to see what people do when they have nothing to do but wait their turn.

Some are busy on their phones,reading newspapers ,magazine or a book or just people watching.

When you have children and have to take your children to the paedetrician,it is a great time to meet other mother,fathers as well though they are pretty rare.As a nutritionist it is also a time to see the kind of snacks children carry with them.Snacks are a great way to keep children  busy,their  very short attentions spans (15 minutes with my kids)means that they get bored pretty fast.They have very creative ways of keeping you busy as a parent with their trips to the dispenser pouring out cup after cup of water or making repeated trips to the bathroom to wash their hands.

Snack time is an opportunity parents can use to teach children to pick the healthy option rather than the one that looks tempting.Whether it is a hospital visit or packing snacks for school ,whatever snacks we put into their hands should more often than not be a choice that feeds their bodies and their taste buds as well.

Snack time is an opportunity to meet our nutritional requirements and growing children require more micro nutrients which are the vitamins and minerals than adults do.Giving them  a choice of fruits,nuts as well as vegetables is a healthy way of meeting their nutritional needs.

The trick to getting children eat more vegetables and fruits is to present it in a very attractive manner.

After the last post on the building blocks of your child’s nutrition some readers asked if I could give some ideas on healthy snacks they could give to their children .

Just before I share the suggestions I have  prepared I thought I should say some things to every woman who is doing her best to raise her children to eat better and have healthier habits.

A woman yields the  greatest  power over her household as she determine what get eaten and most do not  know it.You are the one that sets the course over what kind of eating habits your children will carry with them through out their lives.

A woman has the power to determine the kind of lifestyle her children,grand children and future great grand children will live.

A woman determines what ends up on the plates of her children,by the choice of the kind of foods she chooses to wean her child on, she is developing her child’s taste buds for healthy food .

The reason why we are told to wean children on a variety of natural foods is to develop their taste for nature’s goodness and not food from little  jars or boxes that is filled with a lot of sugar,salt and other additives and preservatives.

As much as possible try and develop healthy eating habits in your children as early as you can.

And even when you may have missed the opportunity earlier on,as long as they live under your roof you still have the power to change the course of their eating habits.

Children who develop healthy eating habits from an early age have fewer incidences of disease and hospital visits.They are more likely to perform better in school as well as socially.

You may want to read a post I did on why you should be reading food labels as well.

The foods that are great and healthy alternatives are foods you can pick from your local kiosk or grocery shop and when it comes to fruits,the best choices are the fruits in season,these offer you a fresh as well as cheaper alternative than those that are out of season.

1.Fruits

Fruits are best eaten  whole not blended.

Blending a few fruits for juice may seem healthy on the surface but fruits contain fructose a sugar and drinking too much fruit juice means  children while enjoying nature’s goodness in a glass of juice are also taking in too much sugar.

2-3 fruits daily are enough to meet a child’s dietary requirements .

Instead of blending 2-3 fruits to make fruit juice have your children eat the fruit whole,if it is an orange,slice it and let them have the orange.If an apple let them crunch their teeth  through the skin of the apple or let them peel the banana .Peeling bananas is a good way to develop your child’s fine motor skills as well.

As we live in the tropics,Kenya is never out of fruits,we enjoy a wide variety of fruits all year round,be sure to have your child eat at least 2 in a day by packing them as a snack for school and having another as an after school snack.

3.Salads

Salads are a great way for getting your children to meet their dietary requirements for  vitamins and minerals .

Making salads is a fun and easy way to get children to eat more of their vegetables.

Better still is if you use your own dressing,forget the one you buy from the supermarket that is loaded with preservatives,sugar and salt.Home made salad dressing are easy and tasty.

Try making them with some olive oil,freshly squeezed lemon juice ,black pepper,pinch of salt ,honey and use that dressing to toss your grated cabbage and carrot,or lettuce tomatoes and carrots.

Salads can be served for dinner or over the weekend and are a great way to get kids involved in preparing healthy meals ,lessons that they will definitely carry with them through adult hood and when they bring up their own children as well.

4.Nuts and seeds

Before you start giving your children nuts and seeds,ensure they do not have any nut allergies.

Cashew nuts,macadamia nuts are   favorites with most children , we also have peanuts(some children have peanut allergies)  we also have almonds,hazel nuts that are not produced locally and cost more but are also healthy choices and are stocked in a variety of stores.

Before packing nuts and seeds as a snack for children ensure they are past the age of 4 years and can comfortably eat them in your presence as they are a choking hazard for younger children.

There are also nut butters available and these nut butters can be used on bread,on sandwiches as well and are healthier than margarine as well as most commercially produced fruit jams.

5.Dried fruits

Dried fruits like sultanas,dates  and raisins are also good but not too much though as sugar is used as a preservative to lengthen their shelf life.These you can mix in with your favourite nuts to create some variety or added to breads you make at home and to cakes as well.

Salads can be jazzed up with some nuts,dried fruits and seeds like sesame seeds as well.

6.Sandwiches

Everybody loves bread(at least I thought so until we started thinking gluten was evil)

You may want to read :WHY YOU MAY NOT REALLY BE ALLERGIC TO GLUTEN.

You can make sandwiches from left over chicken and add tomatoes and with a simple simple dressing of olive oil and lemon you will have  a really delicious sandwich.You can add some crunch to it by first grilling the bread,rubbing some garlic clove on it and what you will end up with your children will keep asking for every time you have left over chicken.

One of my favorites as well as my kids is placing a slice of bread on a plate and layering it with thinly sliced avocado pieces  ,slices of  tomatoes  and topping it with a slice of bread then slicing the bread  diagonally into 4 cute triangular pieces.

You can come up with as many sandwich varieties as you like depending on what your family likes and as long as it is a healthy.Make your sandwiches  irresistible  by cutting them into fancy shapes using cookie cutters,your children will love them.

The secret to  getting it right with  sandwiches is to buy sandwich bread which is denser in order to hold the filling(s )and pick a healthy filling as well.

Fillings for sandwiches can be anything from fruits like avocado,tomato  to salads like guacamole or left over roast beef,chicken,turkey or tuna.

6.Making your own fruit yoghurts

A lot of the fruit yoghurts available in the market have a lot of sugar in them,a great idea is to buy  plain yoghurt and it with a fruit of your choice and pack it for your child  which they can have  as a mid morning or after school snack when they come back home.

Fruits that will give you a really great flavor when blended with yoghurt are strawberries,bananas,avocado,blueberries and just  one fruit per serving of yoghurt at a time .

A few years back I bought a popsicle maker and would often make popsicles with fruit yoghurt. The kids loved it especially when the weather was hot.

You may want to read :BENEFITS OF YOGHURT

A great way to ensure you do not have to push your children to choose healthy snack options is to always have a fruit bowl in the house,make sure its filled with fruits like bananas,oranges,apples ,grapes and by keeping a jar of nuts and seeds as well so that when the hunger pangs strike then they know where they can refill from.

If this post helpful,we would love to hear from you.It is readers like Wambui and everyone else who sends in their questions that keep us writing.

We may not always get it right all the time but when we can get it right 75% of the time when we pick a fruit over a packet of crisps then we are doing the right thing.

See you in the comments section and thank you Wambui!

ZUCCHINI…..Little Pumpkin

My 6 month old baby loves Zucchini !

She practically smacks her lips with delight when she is having them with her favorite food so far…mashed green bananas.

So much does she seem to enjoy them that  i had to buy the seeds and plant some in my kitchen garden.

Zucca is the Italian name for pumpkin and zucchini is the dimuntive form of that…which means little pumpkin.

The zucchini comes in both green and yellow varieties,though in Kenya we only seem to grow the green zucchini/courgette.

It is a vegetable that is very versatile and can be cooked in all manner of ways .You can grill,fry,add it to stews,stuff and even deep fry it.

I will be posting zucchini a recipe for zucchini pancakes soon.

Practically everything this plant has is edible,from the flowers ,leaves and the fruit itself.

The leaves are cooked in the same way you would pumpkin leaves,while the flowers can be dipped in a light batter of flour and eggs and deep fried or stuffed with precooked rice,diced vegetables,meats and also deep fried.

The zucchini fruit is rich in folate,a B vitamin that the body does not store and whose intake is needed daily for the synthesis of DNA and RNA.

Folate intake is especially important for pregnant mothers because it helps prevent neural birth defects like spina bifida.

Zucchini are also rich in potassium,Vitamin A and scant amounts of manganese .

So next time you go shopping do not dare pass these delightful little pumpkins.

Here is a picture i took of grated zucchini and carrots that use to thicken my stews…it does look lovely not to mention all the added nutritional benefits of two of my favorite vegetables.

Image

HONEY IN 6 AMAZING WAYS!

“I am wearing Ralp Lauren,no pants”-Barry Bee(Bee Movie)

A honey dip

One of my all time  favourite movies is the Bee Movie!I have watched it with my five-year old daughter countless number of times .

It tells the story of Barry the Bee who wants to save the bees from what he sees as  human exploitation.

If the law suit the bees had filed against human exploitation had gone through,it would have made it illegal for humans to say things such as “honey am home” or using honey in  beauty products and kitchens without paying royalties!.

It is a wonderful movie that captures in a very whimsical manner the really hard work and the complexity of bees..

Did you know a colony of bees will fly the equivalent of three orbits around the earth to collect just 1 kilo of honey!

Find interesting honey bee facts here.

Not only is honey great because it is a natural sweetener but it is also has anti oxidants that are  great in fighting off free radicals that cause disease ,Vitamin C,minimal amounts of phosphorus and selenium .

There are many things you can use honey for in the kitchen and they do not include using it as a bread spread.

1.In salad dressings

Mix a table-spoon of honey with the juice of three fresh lemons or lime an d use it as a dressing on fruit salads.

2.In marinades

Use it to marinade chicken or pork.Try out my sweet and sour chicken recipe.

3.In placeof sugar

Do you know it can replace sugar in most of your pastry recipes like chapatis,bread ,tea and other types of drinks that require sweetening.

4.In oven roasted bacon

Brush your strips of bacon with honey and then pop them under your grill.

5.In butter

Mix one tablespoon of honey with a few tablespoons of butter and you have honey butter.

6.”Hot” Honey

Add a few pinches of pepper flakes to honey,blend it together with some wine vinegar,olive oil,parsley,garlic  and you have a hot and sweet  dressing that can be drizzled over salads.

Its super yummy!

Like all things good,honey consumption should be in moderation as it is twice as sweet as  regular sugar.

WHY YOU DONT NEED ALL THOSE KITCHEN GADGETS..

Whisk used to whip up whipped cream

Have you ever wondered what people did when they never had rice cookers,deep fryers,mixers,blenders toasters,microwaves ,non stick pans and all manner of kitchen gadgets that fill up space in our kitchen cabinets?

Did they ever have pizza,blend their foods,have perfectly cooked rice,have fried food or bake cakes?

How was it ever possible when nowadays with the advent of advertising everyone is out to convince you   that you have to absolutely have that rice cooker that has at least 110 other functions?

Long before the advent of consumerism people survived and here is how.

1.Toaster/Pannini press

Instead of buying a fancy toaster that has leaves all manner of pretty designs on your bread here is how to toast bread.

Melt a teaspoon of butter in a pan and once it begins to melt,place the bread on the hot pan ,press it down till the bread begins to turn brown along the sides.This tells you a crust is beginning to form,flip it over and do the same for the other side.

You can have the same results without the butter,maybe with olive oil or none at all.

You can get the same results over a grill too.

2.Rice Cooker

For  perfeclty cooked rice every time without a rice cooker ,use 1 cup long grain rice with 1 and 3/4 cups of water and if using short grain rice follow this recipe
.

3.Food Processor

Want to grate your carrots and you do not own a food processor ,then some muscle work is involved,a good old-fashioned grater will do.

4.Oven for roast potatoes…?

Want roast potatoes but have no oven,here is a solution:Slit washed potatoes,skin on  in half,drizzle  some olive oil some salt and butter and wrap in foil.Throw over some hot coals on a grill/jiko,check after 10 minutes,perfectly cooked.

Check out other ways to use your grill here.

5.Blender

Wondering how to blend baby food or soups and you dont have a blender or want to   enjoy mashed potatoes,a good food mill will do the trick.

6.Garlic Press

Wondering how to mince your garlic and ginger,try grating it,chopping it finely,sprinkling 2 pinches of salt then rolling it fine with the help of a rolling pin.And if you can , get a pestle and mortar,gives you the same results.

7.Hand held.stand mixers

Long before you had mixers that came with dough hooks,whisk attachments,the good ol’ whisk was a life saver.

I will never forget having to cream together butter and sugar with a wooden spoon when I made my first cake on the grill,got some muscle work going and burned off a couple of calories too.

I always whip up  whipped cream with a hand whisk.

Also getting your hands a little bit “dirty” by mixing your doughs with the best things at the end of your arms ,your hands will become a labour of love.Nothing like taking pride in the work of your hands or is there?

8.Cake Oven

Did you know you can bake on your grill using just hot coals?when it comes to baking with a grill,you just need a large saucepan filled quarter with sand over a hot jiko or grill.Heat the sand till hot then place your cake tin with batter in the middle,be sure to have a large enough saucepan that will have space left over when you place your cake pan inside.

Cover the saucepan with a lid and place hot coals on top,be sure to check after 30-45 minutes ,its ready when a tooth pick or skewer inserted in the middle comes out clean and will depend on how hot your grill is,you do not want it too hot or it will not give yu the desired results.

Baking on a grill is especially great with pound cakes.

9.Electric Coffee Makers

Long before there were electric coffee makers there were and there still are Moka pots.Read about them here.

Or that long before they were electric coffee grinders there were manual grinders that to me are just a work of art!

Vintage coffee grinders

Invented in 1901 they allowed people to enjoy espresso without worrying about electricity bills and if you ask me coffee from a Moka pot the old fashioned way is better than that from a plugged in device,but that’s just me.

10.Special Pizza Oven

Finally….want pizza?great pizzas are those that come from wood burning pizza ovens,just  ask the italians.

I am even  thinking of building one myself from bricks,minipizzas can even be made on the grill so long as you have hot coals.

See how cluttered our kitchen have become with too many gadgets that we use just once then put away.

What other kitchen gadgets do you think should have been on the list but i missed out on?feel free to share.

MY NO-BAKE FRITTATA

Frittata is a thick omellette that combines a varity of vegetables with eggs being the main focus of the dish.They are great as a breakfast item or as a filling for sandwiches and can be eaten hot or cold.

Omelette serving from www.123rf.com

Here is my no- bake recipe that my five-year old loves.

 

Ingredients

4 eggs

2 large onions chopped

2 medium-sized grated carrots

1 large onion chopped

2 cloves garlic crushed

1 tsp tomato paste (optional)

chopped parsley(dhania)for garnishing

3 tablespoons olive oil

salt and black pepper to taste

 

Preparation

1.Whisk together eggs,salt,pepper in a small bowl.

2.Heat a large pan and pour the 3 tablespoons of olive oil,it should cover base of pan.

3.Add the chopped red onion and saute’ it till it turns translucent.

4.Add the chopped garlic,cook for 5-10 seconds till the aroma fills your kitchen,make sure not to brown it as it turns bitter.

5.Add the tomatoes,fry till tender,then add the grated carrots season with some salt and pepper to taste and cover with a lid.

6.Let to cook for 5-7 minutes till the vegetables turn soft.

7.Add the eggs cover and sprinkle the parsley on top.

8.Cover with lid and let the steam cook the eggs till they bubble and they omelette pulls from the side of the pan,about 3-6 minutes.

9.Make sure top of the omelette is firm before you slide it onto a large plate.

10.Garnish with left over parsley and serve.

 

NB:If you like both sides of your omelette browned after step 9 just cover the plate with the pan again,turn omelette’s uncooked side onto pan and let cook for 2-3 minutes and serve.

Variations:You can add sausage meat,ham or bacon to make your frittata “meatier”.Or sprinke it with some cheese , melt under your grill..yum yum yum.

GRILLING 6 WAYS

If there are two things that describe Kenyans better than Brand Kenya can its Beer and Nyama Choma.

So much so that you cannot imagine East African Breweries doing a Tusker lager advert(one of our best exports if i may say so) without succulent goat ribs featuring somewhere on that ad.

Now nyama chama is our version of grilled meat and Kenyans love their grilled goat ribs,though on this side we prefer to call them roast.

But technically speaking we grill meat not roast it,roasting is done in the oven,in an enclosed space with an indirect source of heat doing all the cooking.

Now cooking terminologies done with,did you know you can grill anything and everything?

From vegetables to bread to  Tofu,most foods take very well to grilling .

Grill marks add some pizzazz to foods and not only is it healthy its tasty too.

1.Vegetables

Everything from tomatoes,onions,egg plants(aubergines),even lettuce can be grilled.

And what use are grilled veggies you may ask?with just some simple vinaigrette vegetables are taken from glam to fab!

2.Bread

Yes you can grill bread too.

Just  brush it with olive oil,rub a clove of garlic onto the hot bread and you have garlic bread.

Great accompaniment for soups as well as for making panninis or sandwiches.

Grilled Pineapples
Photo courtesy of www.kitchenproject.com

Pineapples,bananas,mangoes can ll be slightly grilled for extra sweetness because the heat caramelizes the sugar in the fruit and yum yum yum.

They can also be served with a side serving of either plain yoghurt or some whipped cream and you can hit the gym later.

4.Heathier alternative to frying

As an alternative to frying or boiling root vegetables like potatoes,sweet potatoes,plantains or bananas,grilling is a great way to get some extra flavour into these foods.

5.Oven

A grill can also be used as a sort of  oven,just wrap whatever food you want cooked and fish is especially good for this with some foil,even banana leaves will do and you have yourself a great meal with just the use of a charcoal stove/jiko and a grill mesh.

6.Mini pizza’s

Thiscan also be cokked on a grill,with just tomatoes,mince meat(already cooked),some cheese you can be enjoying one of Italy’s best exports right in your own backyard.

Bon appetit!