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!

EGG FREE PUMPKIN CUPCAKES

My son and eggs do not mix well.

After planting 2 seeds of pumpkin  that months later brought fourth 8 really huge  pumpkins,i was left twiddling my thumbs on what to do with the rest of them .

Then i had one of  those now of my now rare light bulb moments……i decided to try my hand at making cupcakes packed with lots of vitamin  A and flavor to boot that he would not react to. what

I tinkered with a carrot cake  recipe i had and i replaced the butter  with sunflower oil which gives them a crumbly crust but a very moist inside……yummy.

Here is the recipe……

Photo credits:Broccoli Crazy!
Photo credits:Broccoli Crazy!

Ingredients

150 grammes cooked pumpkin well mashed

150 grammes flour

1/2 cup milk

1/3 cup sun flower oil

3 tablespoons grated white chocolate

2 tablespoons sugar

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon ground ginger

1 teaspoon vanilla extract/essence

 

Instructions

1. Pre- heat your oven to 150 degrees Celsius. Line a 12  section cupcake tray with liners.

2.In a medium sized bowl  sized bowl sift your ingredients,add your wet ingredients and using a hand mixer with whisk attachment,mix for 2-3 minutes till  combined.

3.Using an ice cream scoop,spoon  mixture into cupcake liners.It should be enough for all 12 of them.

4.Pop into the oven for 25- 30 minutes,you will know they are done when toothpick  inserted into the center of the cakes comes out with moist crumbs.

5.Remove from the oven,leave to cool for 15 minutes then remove them from tray and serve.

Can be kept in an air tight container in the fridge for 2-3 days.

Photo credits:Broccoli Crazy!

 

CHOCOLATE MILK POPSICLES

For the longest time i have wanted  to make popsicle for the kids and when i saw  this 4 piece mold at Nakumatt,i grabbed it  and i prayed there would be some sun soon so that i could try making some.

I waited six weeks , finally last Saturday i did get to make some.

How to get your kids to drink more milk...make popsicles1
How to get your kids to drink more milk…make popsicles1

Ingredients

250 ml chocolate milk(you can make hot chocolate,wait for it to cool then  use it)

Method

1.Fill the mold ,leave space of about a  centimeter from the top free to allow for expansion of the milk.

2.Freeze for 4-6 hours.

3.To remove the molds ,boil some water,dip the mold in hot water for 30 seconds,twists the  tops off,and remove from the mould.

4.Enjoy.

Try different flavors like strawberry and vanilla and roll the popsicles in shaved chocolate or toasted coconut for some extra kick.

UGALI WITH OOMPH!

It is strange that my spell check does not recognize ugali…a Kenyan delicacy like that needs to be put in the Oxford dictionary.

In my younger days i hated ugali because the wooden stick used to stir it frequently found a home on my derriere when i was extra naughty.

The more glorified form of ugali that plays is in the  league of gourmet food is the Italian polenta.

Instead of boiling water and mixing in with your usual maize flour try the following tips to add some oomph to kawaida /regular  ugali:

1.Add desiccated coconut to your ugali,fresh i s best but if you cannot get fresh the store bought variety works fine too.The flakes add crunch to your ugali and an absolutely out of this world  nutty  aroma will fill your kitchen as you cook.A tablespoon or two for each cup of water should do.

Coconut milk or cream will also give you great results ,bye bye bland ugali.

2.Add fresh cream to your ugali halfway during the cooking time ,adding  it too early causes the ugali to burn before it is ready.

3.Grate some cheese into the ugali ,stir it into the ugali  then serve.

4.Add sour cream,use it in the same way you use the cream.

5.Mix in millet flour with your regular stir  ugali flour,this should be thoroughly mixed before you start making the ugali or else you get lumps.Cook ugali made from millet flour on medium high heat it burns very  quickly.

6.If you have left over ugali,don’t throw it away,cut it into cubes make an egg/milk and chopped coriander  mix,then fry or bake and have them for breakfast

What other unusual ways do your cook ugali….please share.

USING WHITE WINE VINEGAR

Over the weekend i broke a record of sorts,i bought a  bottle of wine vinegar and 30 minutes later it was gone,lying broken on the kitchen floor.

Less than 24 hours late i was back at the store for a new one…*sigh*

The agony of having to fork out more money for another bottle was painfully sweet because wine vinegar is one of those pantry items that can last and last and is especially  handy when you want to kick your dishes up a notch.

You must be asking what use you can get out of wine vinegar.

Some basics first,white wine vinegar is as a result of the process of white  wine fermentation ,wine vinegar has a milder flavor than regular vinegar or cider vinegar.

Use wine vinegar in your salad dressings,for thinning mayonnaise r salad cream in place of fresh lemon juice.

It is also  great when added to marinades to white meat .

Store it like you would store olive oil,in a cool,dark place,its flavors develop over time like wine….

White wine vinegar..
White wine vinegar..

VEGETABLE SAUCE PASTA DISH

Do you know what goes really well with spaghetti especially if you are not a meat lover like i am…

It is cumber,carrots,red onions and lots of tomatoes.

My son loves this dish so much he almost always scraps his plate clean.

And it is a very very cheap dish too,no exotic ingredients in this dish.

Orange,green,red and pasta!!!
Orange,green,red and pasta!!!

Ingredients

1 medium sized red onion,chopped

2-3 cloves of garlic chopped finely/minced

1 medium sized zucchini sliced

2 carrots grated/chopped

2 tomatoes

1 teaspoon of tomato paste

1-2 tablespoons olive oil/vegetable oil for frying

 200 grammes of spaghetti

Method

1.Boil a medium sized saucepan half filled with water,then add a tablespoon of salt once its starts boiling.Don’t worry you will not taste the salt.

2.Boil till al dente about 6-7 minutes.

3.Drain the pasta but retain a cup or so of the pasta water,you will add it later to the vegetables.

4.In the same saucepan add some olive oil.vegetable oil then add your chopped red onion and sauté till tender,.

5.Add the minced garlic,sauté for 0 seconds,then add your tomatoes,carrots fry for a minute or so till softened then add your tomato paste and salt and stir.

6.Add the cucumber slices and cover for a minute to let the steam tenderize them.

7..After a minute add a few tablespoons of the pasta water,enough to cover base of sauce pan,let simmer for a minute to thicken the sauce then add your drained paster and stir then cover for 30 seconds and remove from heat.

Add a splash of olive oil and toss then serve.

Bouon  appetito!

MY BETTER THAN A THOUSAND ISLAND DRESSING

All you need for this dressing are these four things :

2013-02-19-1468

The salad dressing is great with your favourite vegetables or with pasta.
I had it with some blanched broccoli,grated carots,tomatoes,red onions and julienned cucmber slices…deliciously scrumptious is all i can say.

I prefer these recipe rather than go buy a bottle of ready made dressing because reading the labels of most commercial dressings,the ingredients are on a list as long as my arm.This allows me to enjoy my salad without all of the guilt of unhealthy ingredients i am  putting in my body as i saw that Kenya Orchards does try to keep their ingredients as simple as possible.
The only thing to note is the mayonnaise has eggs,for anyone with an egg allergy please do get an alternative.

Ingredients
4 level tablespoons mayonnaise
2 level tablespoons tomato ketchup
2 pinches of black pepper
freshly squeezed juice of 1 small lemon.

It should look like this...
It should look like this…

Method
In a small bowl add the above ingredients then thotoughly mix with a fork or spoon
Cover with cling film and let it rest in the refridgerator for flavours to mesh and develop.
A half hour before serving add your vegetables and toss then return to the fridge.
It can keep for a day.

ABSOLUTELY DELISH FISH FINGERS

This a really great recipe and will give you finger licking fish fingers that even my finickiness 3 year old loved loved loved.

The fish fingers are great as appetizers/starters or as finger food served with cocktails ,absolutely delish!

Ingredients

4oo grammes of fish fillets cut into strips

juice of  1 small lime/lemon

1/2 level teaspoon cumin seed 

2 cloves garlic,minced

4 tablespoons corn oil

dash of salt and pepper to taste

5-6 tablespoonfuls wheat flour

deep frying oil

Method

1.In a small bowl,whisk together  oil and the cumin seeds till thick then add the salt and pepper and minced garlic and whisk further.

2.In a medium sized bowl put in the sliced fish fingers and pour the marinade on top and with clean hands rub it all over the fish,cover in cling film and set in the fridge to marinade for an hour before cooking.

3.On a flat plate dd the wheat flour and coat the fish fillets with the flour to get them ready for deep frying.

4..Heat a frying pan and add oil to just about 1/3 full with deep frying oil .

5.Add the coated fish fingers to he oil,a few at a time and space them out.

You should have pan that looks like this.

2012-12-18-1103

6.Fry for about 2-3 minutes till each side is a nice golden brown then transfer to a flat plate lined with grease proof paper or the disposable kitchen towels.

7.Fry the rest of the fish fingers this way and serve hot with lemon wedges or some tartar sauce.

OLIVE OIL:GIFT OF THE GODS

Olive oil is a favourite of mine,i use it for salads,for my skin and even at times for eczema .

I love the Pietro Coricelli brand and whenever i have money to spare i get myself a bottle.

Olives are mentioned in the Bible,they are synonymous with the holy land ,the  trees are native to the mediterranean region and in classical greek mythology it is said  the goddess Athena gifted the Greeks with the Olive tree.

Olive tree photo courtesy of Pinterest.com

The tree which bears fruits from which olive oil is pressed from can live for as long as 3000 year.

Olive oil has many uses outside the kitchen,I have used it on my hair ,as a moisturizer on my skin and on my little pumpkin Emma.

For the kitchen it is great especially when making pasta sauces,sauteing vegetables,making chapati/flat bread dough,in salads as  dressing,on bread,oven roasted chicken……..  the list is endless.

I imagine heaven smells of garlic sauteing in olive oil…

A gramme of olive oil gives about 9 calories and like all good things you should not gulp it down no matter how good it is,use a minimal amount to give your food the delicate flavour for which olive oil is famous for.

As a rule you never ever over heat olive oil especially the extra virgin and virgin oils as they easily burn.

Do you have any uses of olive oil you can swear by.

Share them  in the comments section

OATS

Oats have been cultivated for about 2000 years which is pretty young in grain years.

They were  a weed beforethey were domesticated.

They became very popular in Scotland and Ireland  as a food before their use spread to the rest of the world,interestingly in England oats were given to …livestock!

I was looking up ideas to help with breastfeeding when someone mentioned oats boost breast milk production and i decided to do some more research on their health benefits, to humans ofcourse.

Oats are great for breastfeeding moms as they boost milk production but they are also an awesome cereal for anyone looking to eat and live a healthier  life.

Immediately I went and got myself a pack of quick cooking oats which you can find in any supermarket

Here are the ones i got.

The oats…..

Cooking oatmeal porridge is fairly easy  and the pack I got had a recipe on its side ,after  modifying it to make a small bowl of oatmeal porridge, Emma was one well fed baby.

Read  some more about  the  benefits of oats here.

 

Oatmeal porridge

Ingredients

5  heaped tablespoonsfuls  of oatmeal(1/3 of a cup)

1 cup water

1/4 teaspoon salt

some milk/cream

sugar/honey to taste

Method

1.In a small saucepan on medium high heat  bring the cup of water to boil then add the quarter teaspoon of salt.

2.Once the water comes to a  boil add the oats and stir then let simmer for 5 minutes  on medium low heat.

3.Remove from heat and cover for a further 5 minutes then add cream or milk  and honey/sugar to taste.

Alternatively slices of fruits like bananas,a tablespoon of some dried fruits would be great too.

Bon appetito!

.