By Chef Centehua
Since becoming a mom, I carry snacks with me all the time. I usually prep a few snacks in the morning after breakfast and then we’re good to go. When my kids were toddlers, throughout the day they grazed on fruits, veggies with nut butters, hummus, raw superfood cookies and flax crackers. I made sure their snacks provided nutrients rather than empty calories.
I was told as a child that snacking would spoil my appetite, but in actuality snacking gives kids a boost in energy; and that way, they don’t arrive at the dinner table with a cranky meltdown. Now, let’s not forget about Mom. She also needs good snacks loaded with nutrients, essential fatty acids and minerals. This is why I highly recommend prepping in advance so that you don’t end up with a bag of chips or a cupcake.
It’s important to know your and your kids’ personal cycles. How do you feel throughout the day? When are you the hungriest? For example, if I am processing emotions, I notice I crave sugar, so I make sure to pack enough fruit and a sweet, nutrient rich smoothie. And, some time between 2 and 4 p.m., I can feel my sugar levels decrease. That’s when my energy is at its lowest and I usually crave a nap. However, that is also the time when I am driving to pick up my kids from school, so I can’t always just relax. Driving around is a stressful activity for both kids and adults: you’re dealing with other people and multitasking as you focus on other cars, street signals, and things on the road — all while carrying on a conversation with your three-year-old or thirteen-year-old. This is when I like to hand my kids some water and a yummy snack. While driving, I also enjoy water and long deep breaths. When the light is red, that’s my cue to munch on some kale chips.
If you have picky eaters, snacking is a great way to introduce healthy foods, especially if you’re out and about, and they are hungry but have access only to celery with almond butter or sea weed rolls. Trust me: after a little resistance, they will end up eating anything when hunger strikes.
I love fruit. It is already wrapped and ready to go. Fruit provides nutrients, fiber and the sugars needed for proper brain function. I avoid white flours and refined sugars, for they do not provide the nutrients the body is asking for; rather, they promote inflammation and imbalances in the body. So, instead of a peanut butter sandwich, make some nut and date cookies, pack a banana and carrot sticks with hummus. Or how about some spelt blueberry muffins?
Having the right tools in the kitchen makes the process easier, of course. A food processor and a good blender are essential, in my opinion. One of my daughter’s favorite snacks is raw cashew cookies. They are sweet, filling and nutrient rich. Fats are so important for developing brains, and for weight management and a feeling of well being in any adult. Yep, eat fat and lose weight! But eat the right fats, of course. So before you reach for the cheeseburger, try nuts, coconut oil, avocados, chia seeds, raw nut butters, cacao ( raw chocolate), etc. These foods help you feel full and happy. I always have a little Himalayan salt and a couple of avocados in my bag. It’s funny when people comment, “Isn’t that a lot of fat?” as they slurp on nonfat, sugar-free oversized frappucinos.
As we educate one another and readjust our concepts and feelings around food, it’s important to think about where things come from and how they are made, and to focus on health rather than waist size. Brightly colored snacks and drinks don’t belong in our bodies. Many well-intentioned moms and dads are giving their active kids drinks that claim to contain electrolytes and hydrate better than water. This could not be further from the truth. Those neon yellow, blue, violet … you-name-it … sports drinks make the body acidic and, after the initial energy rush, the body crashes as it is depleted of minerals. These food-like products are chemical cocktails and should be avoided completely.
My snacks and drinks have increased in amount, for now I have teenagers. The first thing I hear when I see my son after school is, “Hi, Mom. I’m hungry.” He is sixteen, and plays rugby and football, so his body craves a lot of calories and minerals. His sports drink is spring water with lemon and a little maple syrup. I also carry liquid snacks by packing a little cooler with a couple mason jars of superfood smoothies. A great way to load nutrition into a liquid meal, these smoothies are full of chia seeds, hemp, spirulina, maca, lucuma, holy basil, turmeric, fruit and dates. We call it the super hero smoothie: it’s all you need to seize the day! Adding medicinal herbs such as turmeric and holy basil to your smoothie is great, especially for athletes and moms. Turmeric is a powerful anti-inflammatory and antioxidant. Herbs are our plant allies, ensuring we get the necessary medicine to boost our immune system and detoxify on a cellular level.
Smoothies are also a wonderful way to make sure your toddler gets proper nutrition. I pretty much raised my boy on spirulina and hemp smoothies because he was so picky at the dinner table. However, as a teen, he can hardly find a food he doesn’t like!
My priority is that everyone is fed well, so waking up a little early to prepare snacks is totally worth it. But I am not always as organized as I’d like to think I am. Sometimes I’m missing an ingredient or have a late morning, so we are out the door with our water bottles and maybe a banana. On these days, I make sure that the snacks I buy are clean and healthy. If I have to purchase a snack, I buy fruit or a packaged food that has less than five ingredients I can easily find in my pantry.
Once you get into the groove of prepping for the day, you’ll save money and have happy grazers until dinner time … which makes for a happier mommy, indeed.
Here’s the raw cookie recipe my daughter and I created, and the recipe for one of my favorite smoothies. I hope you like and share them.
Enjoy and happy snacking!
Raw kale chips: http://www.rawmazing.com/raw-food-kale-chips-9-ways