Healthy Cook: After school time (or any time) snack ideas

“Mom, I’m home and there’s nothing to eat and I’m hungry.”
The answer was easy for Eve: “Go pick yourself a piece of fruit . . . but not the apples.” Life is more complicated now. And the neighbor’s citrus is out of season for a quick snack.
This is a wonderful opportunity for bonding between parent and child – working together when there is time to make simple, healthy snacks to be eaten later.
Plain, old oatmeal is a simple ingredient that’s easy to make fancy and nutritious.
Start with yogurt, a little fruit and oatmeal. Layer these in glasses, ending with oatmeal and a sprinkle of cinnamon. Cover tightly and keep in the fridge until the kids get home.
“If you don’t like them you don’t have to eat them, I will,” seems a good preamble to a batch of vegetable-laden healthy Martian Cookies. The recipe is from Better Homes and Gardens “Cookies for Kids” from 1983 (and it’s just as delicious today as it was then).
Martian Cookies
½ cup butter or margarine
¾ cup sugar
1 egg
½ teaspoon vanilla
1½ cups all purpose flour
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
½ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
1 cup quick cooking rolled oats
1 cup coarsely shredded (large holes) unpeeled zucchini
1 cup chopped walnuts or pecans
½ cup semisweet chocolate pieces
½ cup butterscotch pieces.
Heat oven to 350 F. In a large bowl, beat butter until it’s soft. Add sugar and beat until fluffy.
Add egg and vanilla and beat well.
In a medium bowl, mix flour, cinnamon, baking soda and salt. With mixer on low speed, gradually add dry ingredients to butter, mixing well. Stir in the rest of the ingredients.
Drop dough by rounded teaspoons about 2 inches apart on ungreased cookie sheets. Bake 10 to 12 minutes or until golden. Cool on rack. Makes about 48 cookies.
Note: let cookie sheets cool before baking a second batch.
Here’s a recipe we do a couple of times a week. It works hot when it’s fresh or cold later in the day (after school) and is delicious – and healthy.
Older children can cut and measure. Younger ones can pour ingredients into the bowl and mix.
Quick Fruit n’ Oat Breakfast or Snack
2 cups fresh or frozen blueberries (or whatever fruit you have)
2 bananas, sliced
½ cup rolled oats
1/3 cup orange juice
2 tablespoons chopped walnuts
1 tablespoon sunflower seeds (can use all sunflower seeds)
Pinch of cinnamon
Combine everything in a bowl that can put it in the microwave. Heat on high for 3 minutes. Mix and enjoy. Store some to enjoy cold after school. Makes 2 generous servings.
And speaking of the microwave, a child who is old enough to use one can have an egg on an English muffin in the time it takes for the muffin to toast. Mom or dad might want to try this first and demonstrate.
Mix the yolk and white of an egg in a small bowl. Add a few grains of salt. Put the muffin in the toaster. Cook the egg on high for 30 seconds. It will puff up as it heats and deflate as it cools. Carefully, the bowl will be hot, loosen the egg and slide it on to the crisp muffin. That’s it.
If you’re a hummus household, then the kids can help prepare another quick after school snack. They can portion hummus into a small bowl or plastic container. Cover with plastic wrap.
Depending on knife skills, someone can slice cucumber or zucchini about ¼-inch thick. Wrap in plastic wrap. Store side-by-side in the fridge. The sliced vegetables become scoops for the hummus. If the word “hummus” scares the kids, then call it bean dip. They can even add a little salsa for color.
Now it’s the kids’ turn to come up with ideas they might like to make . . . with the parent’s help of course, any meal or snack time can be made fun and full of good nutritional value.
story by TRENT ROWE, Food Editor

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