The snack. It’s that “hump moment” in our day where our brains tell us we need a little something to get us through to the next meal. The mistake we make often though, is to go for refined foods like carbs or sugary foods when that little voice starts whispering – because they’re bloody everywhere, pretty cheap and so damn easy! And if you have kids, and you haven’t planned for it being out and about, snack time can often mean a knee jerk packet of popcorn, packet of rice wheels, chips, shapes or bikkies. These “snacks” might fill the void and seem innocent at a glance, but in terms of nutritional density, they have the density of an air bubble, and in many cases, lots of additives that are very confusing to little bodies, in fact big ones too!
Have a read of this interesting american article on the addictive nature of carbs (refined sugar and flour)! It’s a great summary of the facts and fruits of many studies.
If that wasn’t enough to get us changing our munching tune, how about this in the lead up to winter: because refined foods demand so much attention from your digestive system to be processed, your immune system is subsequently weakened – they change the way your white blood cells respond to invaders, meaning anything that’s floating around in lurgy land, is headed straight for you my friend and then it’s doctors, pharmacies and cash down the drain – not to mention feeling crap!
SO, le snack: Let’s review this excellent and tasty little moment in our day and list some seriously nutritous, body & brain building options that are immune building to boot!
My 5 snack suggestions to get you and your favourite people through the day!
1. What you might normally make: A milkshake or milk/soy based smoothie. What I suggest instead:
My Kefir, Coconut & Banana Smoothie: Makes 2
1 cup kefir or good liquidy yoghurt (Kefir yoghurt is a probiotic wonderland which means awesome things for your immune system and is available now in all health food stores and online. If you’re keen like me you buy the powder or grains and make it yourself but don’t feel pressured! Supermarket milk and soy milk are quite processed and factory dairy cows are hideously treated, so for my ultimate smoothie, they don’t make the cut!)
1/2 cup coconut milk (normal, NOT reduced fat. coconut contains saturated fat, yes, but it’s gods gift to health and a strong immune system & it is a type of fat that is really well utilized by the body, so as long as you’re a reasonably active person, it won’t be making it’s way down to your butt’s real estate for a long term investment!)
a ripe banana (or a mango, handful of blueberries or raspberries work great too for variety, depending on the season)
tiny splash vanilla extract (optional, but you know you want to!)
1 tablespoon genuine maple syrup or raw organic honey or 2 drops of Stevia if you’re sugar free.
blend it all up and serve. delish!
variations: if it’s just for you, a teaspoon of flax oil or rice bran powder is awesome for digestion and well being, but a bit too much for little people.
for little boys: why not put a 1/4 teaspoon of spirulina in there to make it green. it’s pretty potent stuff so you don’t need much but the little guy will love the novelty & you can stir a bit more into yours for an additionally nutritious super food boost!
for little girls: make it extra pink with a tiny bit of beetroot juice. I buy a small beet juice every now and then and freeze in little ice cubes and then chuck into a snap lock bag in the freezer, so that any time i need to color something pink, I have it at hand and it’s totally natural!
No 2: What you might normally go for: A store bought dip + Rice Cakes. What I suggest:
My Holy Guacamole & wholegrain crackers, almond meal crackers, veggie sticks or organic corn chips.
2 avocados (never make just one serving – always double batch to lessen the work) scooped out and mashed into a bowl.
Add 1 teaspoon chopped flat leaf parsley, 2 sprigs thyme with stalk removed, so only the little leaves are in there, 1 clove garlic, finely chopped and mushed to a paste with 2 pinches salt, 1 pinch pepper, 2 tablespoons sour cream (live cultures are present in sour cream which are great for digestion, and lots of commercial mayos are bad news with corn syrup and other additives, so I pick sour cream or yoghurt over mayo to add my creaminess!) and 1 pinch chilli flakes if it’s for the grownups!
i also add a good couple of pinches of Dulse Flakes – a Sea Veggie that is incredibly nutrient dense, and this wonderful super food goes unnoticed in a myriad of things like mash, soup, dips and sauces, and is a great little secret defense weapon for us all! head to the health food shop for a bag that lasts you months!
mix it all together, and further season to taste if you have to!
Use this as suggested, or in burgers, tacos, on sourdough or sprouted grain toast as a snack. It’s the goods! A storage tip: press baking paper onto the surface of the dip to stop it going brown – it’s the oxygen that makes it go brown. This way you have it on hand for a snack one day, and then part of a meal the next without having to make it again!
3. What you might normally have: A piece of fruit on it’s own. What I suggest: Fruit and cheese
I grew up with this, and adored this snack. Mum used to cut up granny smith apples & serve with sticks of gruyere or another mild style of cheese. It’s so simple and quick, and the protein and nutrients from the dairy, give you a more complete, satisfying result. (Nimbin Natural is the only supermarket “main aisle” cheese i’d trust. Most of the others if not all, are highly processed and use skim powders et all, which really aren’t good for anyone!)You could do pear of course, or prune and walnut log as the sweet element too. That sweet and savoury combo is heaven and a welcome afternoon treat and you really don’t need bikkies to go with it!
4. What you might normally grab: Banana bread, muffin or cupcake. What I suggest? Jude Blereau’s Everyday zucchini bread from her Wholefood for children book http://www.wholefoodcooking.com.au/
This is a fantastically dense and nourishing bread that takes 5 minutes to put together once you’ve done it once and you’re familiar with all the bits. I bake it in muffin tins instead of whole as a bread, so that it’s quicker and easier to take out and about than slicing etc. It lasts a good 4 days in the fridge. Perfect for the work snack or trip to the park. Get the book, it rocks or one of her other books if you are someone living the free life sans child and enjoy! As for the bread, although it’s supposedly for my son’s benefit, my husband and I really dig it!
5. What you might normally grab: White bread or multigrain toast with jam or vegimite. What I suggest? Wholgrain toast, sourdough or sprouted grain toast with either a good additive free paté or a nut butter (ABC butter is my choice and it’s delish: Almond, Cashew & Brazil nut combo available at all supermarkets in healthy section). This can be done as a sandwich too if you’re on the go or the usual parent out at the park or on the busy after school pick up. Swap that sweet or vacuous spread with a more dense, nutritious option containing protein and then you have a snack that’s not just carb but really good brain and body food.
As a random aside, I also love cooking more than enough sweet potato at night, and taking a few cold chunks of it for the little man and me the next day for morning tea or afternoon. Another one is the boiled egg or half avocado with a little salt, ready to scoop at the park, which was apparently socially acceptable when he was under 1 1/2, but now I’m the weirdo who hasn’t progressed to Sakata and Tiny Teddies. I get funny looks, yes, but this is real food and he loves it and you can take your msg crackers high in cheap salt and your toxic teddies and shove them.
Ha! Enjoy your snacks and hopefully from my suggestions you get a few new ideas, or can now come up with some of your own. Please share & comment on successes and challenges always,
Real Food. Happy People. Happy Planet