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Put the Fun Back in Snack Time


By Cathe Olson

Right about 10:00 or 10:30 in the morning, the kids start getting bored and I run out of ideas for new activities. Maybe for you, it’s the afternoon that seems endless. Or perhaps you’re in a snack slump. It’s hard to think of healthy snacks for kids every day – especially one your children will eat.

Why not turn quick, healthy snacks into a fun activity? With a little help from you, kids can make easy, no-cook treats that I’ll call snack balls. Children are more likely to eat food that they make themselves, and they’ll have fun doing it. Snack balls are great whether you have one child or many. Making these treats is also a wonderful daycare, preschool or party activity that fosters healthy eating habits.

Healthier alternatives
Many store-bought snacks contain large amounts of sugar, sodium, hydrogenated oils and/or preservatives. When making your own treats, you can use whole, natural (and preferably organic) ingredients. To provide extra fiber and nutrients, I use dried fruit to sweeten these confections rather than sugar or honey. I also start with fat-protein base like nut butter, seed butter, or cream cheese. This helps the sugar to be absorbed more slowly, preventing skyrocketing blood sugar levels.

One of the best parts of this treat is that it doesn’t require cooking. Snack balls can be made in minutes using your food processor or by hand. The kids can roll and shape them.

Here are a few recipes to try. Use them as a starting point and then customize them to your own taste. Snack balls are a great opportunity for you and your kids to be creative and continue, or begin, eating healthy. Try setting up cups of different ingredients and let your children create their own concoctions.

Almond Butter Raisin Chews
These treats are a great source of protein and calcium.

1/2 cup raisins
1/2 cup almond or peanut butter
1/3 cup dry milk powder (soy is fine)
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 tablespoon water

Suggestions for rolling:
Minced nuts, wheat germ, flaked coconut or sesame seeds

Place raisins in food processor. Pulse until they are coarsely chopped and start sticking together. Add remaining ingredients and process until smooth. Pour your choice of rolling ingredient into a shallow dish. Scoop out teaspoons of nut butter mixture and drop into dish. Shape into balls and roll in topping until coated. Keep leftovers refrigerated. Yield: About 16

Note: If you don’t have a food processor, chop raisins by hand and mix all ingredients in a bowl with your hands.


Cream Cheese Bon-Bons
These luscious treats taste like cheesecake! We like to make them with golden raisins.

1/2 cup raisins
8 ounces cream cheese (dairy or non-dairy substitute)
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
Suggestions for rolling:

Minced walnuts, wheat germ, flaked coconut or sesame seeds

Place raisins in food processor. Pulse until they are coarsely chopped and start sticking together. Add cream cheese and vanilla. Process until smooth.

Pour your choice of rolling ingredient into a shallow dish. Scoop out teaspoons of cream cheese mixture and drop into dish. Shape into balls and roll in topping until coated. Keep balls refrigerated until ready to serve. Yield: About 18

Variations:
Cream Cheese-Almond Bon Bons: Substitute almond extract for vanilla.
Cream Cheese-Apricot Bon Bons: Substitute dried apricots for raisins.

© Cathe Olson


Cathe Olson is a mother, freelance writer and the author of Simply Natural Baby Food and Beyond Rice Cereal. The Olsons raise organic vegetables, herbs, fruit and free-range chickens on their farm. Cathe writes newsletter columns, articles and books on whole foods cooking while caring for her daughters. Learn more at SimplyNaturalBooks.com.

 

 

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