As their children prepare for summer break, nutritionally minded parents are reminded to indulge the child's natural inclination toward snacks and make a wide assortment of sweet as well as savory treats available, in addition to regularly scheduled meals, during the coming time away from school.
After lots of hard work and a year's worth of nutritionally sound meals, children are entitled to a few added calories. Researchers, in fact, are recommending that parents avoid restricting healthy children's diets and allow children the added calories they need for normal growth and to carry them through the activities of the day.
Unless a physician has determined the child to be at risk for heart disease or some other nutrition-related problem, such as obesity, the diet should consist of a variety of foods, with no single food group completely eliminated.
Foods Children Crave
The following munchies are developed around foods that kids crave, such as chocolate, plus some good-for-you-items such as whole grains, peanut butter and fruits. Yes, most of these treats are just that--rewards designed to satisfy a nagging sweet tooth or hunger pangs, but with the added nutrition candy bars and packaged snack cakes don't provide.
Older children will enjoy preparing some of these treats on their own with the help of the microwave oven, a safe alternative to sometimes-dangerous stove-top heating. Zapped Tortilla Snack, for example, combines tastes kids enjoy--peanut butter, bananas and apples--wrapped neatly in a flour tortilla holder that can be split and shared with a friend.
Trail mixes are another increasingly popular snack. In Fruit and Sunflower Crunch, chow mein noodles and sunflower seeds provide crunch while dried apricots and raisins provide fruity-sweet goodness.
For parents who desire to prepare kids' snacks a day ahead, Chili Cheese Puffs are in order. Frozen puff pastry is sprinkled with shredded Cheddar cheese and seasoned with chili powder for zip, rolled, sliced and baked. To make in advance, chill the pastry slices until ready to use, then place on baking sheet and pop in the oven.
1 package fudge brownie mix with can of genuine chocolate flavor syrup
1/2 cup coarsely chopped peanuts
1 (6-ounce) package semisweet chocolate pieces
1 cup peanut butter pieces
1/2 cup peanuts
Prepare brownie mix according to package directions, stirring chopped peanuts into batter. Bake as directed.
Immediately sprinkle chocolate and peanut butter pieces over hot brownies. Let stand 2 to 3 minutes until pieces are softened. Swirl with knife. Sprinkle whole peanuts on top and cool, then cut into 2-inch squares. Makes 24 brownies.
3 ounces cream cheese
3/4 cup sweetened wheat puffs or crisp sweetened rice cereal, fruity flavor
Fresh or canned fruit, sliced
Shape cream cheese into small balls, using about 1 tablespoon for each. Roll in cereal, pressing cereal onto ball. Arrange cereal balls and fruits alternately on wooden sticks. Makes 6 kebabs.
ZAPPED TORTILLA SNACK
4 (7-inch) flour tortillas
1/4 cup smooth peanut butter
1 medium banana, sliced
1 small apple, finely chopped
Apple and banana slices
To warm tortillas for easy rolling, place stacked together between 2 sheets of wax paper on microwave-safe plate and microwave on HIGH 25 to 30 seconds.
Spread each tortilla with 1 tablespoon peanut butter. Layer equal amounts banana slices and apple in center of each tortilla. Sprinkle fruit with cinnamon. Fold both ends of tortilla over fruit. Place each filled tortilla, seam side up, in center of wax paper sheet large enough to wrap around entire tortilla.
Wrap wax paper around tortilla and twist or fold ends to seal. Place on microwave-safe plate. Microwave on HIGH 30 seconds. Rearrange tortillas halfway through cooking time, but do not turn over. Microwave on HIGH 30 seconds longer or until filling is heated through.
To serve, cut each snack in half, secure with pretzel stick speared through additional apple and banana slices. Makes 4 servings.
CHILI CHEESE PUFFS
1 (17 1/4-ounce) package frozen puff pastry, thawed
3/4 pound Cheddar cheese, shredded
4 teaspoons chili powder
1 egg, lightly beaten
Roll both sheets pastry to 16x12-inch rectangles. Toss cheese and chili powder together, then sprinkle half of mixture on sheet of pastry. Salt to taste. Starting with long sides, roll opposite edges to center. Repeat with remaining sheet of pastry and cheese. Brush each pastry with beaten egg.
Chill rolls 1 hour and slice into 1/2-inch-thick slices. Place on greased baking sheets and bake at 425 degrees 15 minutes. Makes 5 dozen puffs.
CRISPY SUNFLOWER RANGER COOKIES
1 cup butter or margarine
1 cup brown sugar, packed
1 cup granulated sugar
1 tablespoon vanilla
2 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
2 cups oats
2 cups rice cereal
1 1/4 cups sunflower seeds