School Snacks! Soccer Snacks! Church Snacks! Playdate Snacks! Afterschool Snacks!
Snacks are everywhere in a kid’s life. Some kids probably eat more calories in “snacks” than they do in meals. So, they need to be healthy, right?
I had a debate with my sister a while back about kids’ snacks. She is from the school of thought and I understand it, that “food is love” (my words, not hers) and giving kids cookies, candy, etc. as snacks is fun for them and they enjoy it. It is just a little bit, right? So, she thinks it is OK to bring those kind of treats as group snack for school, athletics, etc. On the other hand, I worry that kids get too many snacks each and every day and so snacks have to be considered as part of the total food for the day. They are no longer a “special treat”, so they need to be healthy.
Normally, when I provide a group snack, it is fresh fruit, dried fruit and nuts, veggie sticks with hummus, unsweetened applesauce, cheese sticks or something in that vein. My kids keep healthy snacks on hand at school in case the group snack provided by another parent is not a healthy choice. I am happy to report that many of the other parents do send healthy snacks. Yesterday, the parent sent clementines as the group snack for school and the girls came home raving about how sweet they were and how their classroom smelled pleasantly of oranges after all the kids peeled the clementines themselves. I am sure my next trip to the grocery store will include clementines. But, on other days, frosted cookies from the grocery bakery or pre-packaged peanut butter cheese crackers or rice krispies treats are sent and my girls have to have one of our snacks instead.
I recently read an interesting article called “Children are hungrier for snacks, study finds” where the author expresses some of my concerns about how kids seem to be eating way to many unhealthy snacks because each individual that gives it to them doesn’t realize the cumulative effect of all those snacks. Each snackgiver thinks that they are being nice to kids, but when 3-5 different people a day give kids cookies and candy, it adds up. That is probably part of the reason that the childhood obesity rate continues to climb. There is another article in the same vein called “Join me in Rethinking Institutionalized Snacking“.
I want to state that I hold no ill will to snackgivers, I just wish they would ask parents if they really want their kids to eat those cookies, cakes, and candy. Then stop and think about the fact that this kid will probably get 2-3 more snacks during the day from different sources and if they are all cookies, that is 250-300 extra calories worth of cookies in one day. If you give my kid cookies at school snack, then I can’t also give them a cookie for dessert at dinner. You are taking away my ability to give my children treats at home since I don’t want them to have too many treats.
I hope the articles help you understand where I am coming from. I think there are other parents that agree with me. Either way, I always try to ask other moms if their kid can have some of the snack I am giving my kids before I hand it out. I am not mad at well-meaning snack givers, it just annoys me to have to take food out of my kids hands and then try to explain to them why we don’t eat that kind of food, but then tell them that other people do choose to eat it and so please don’t tell them they are eating unhealthy because it hurts their feelings.
Telling them that other moms make different food choices for their own kids is not understandable to them at this age. For them, if something is unhealthy for them then it is universally unhealthy. They even have trouble understanding that some food is very healthy (green veggies, most fruit), some is pretty healthy but don’t overindulge (whole wheat bread, fruit juice, nuts) and some is not at all healthy but can be eaten occasionally as a fun special treat (cookies, cake, candy).
What are your thoughts on the amount, sources, and types of snacks that your children are given each day?
OK, now for the recipe…WHOLE WHEAT BANANA MUFFINS. It is a healthy banana muffin, but it is still a banana muffin which is essentially an unfrosted piece of cake. Am I guilty of what I just criticised in others?
I made them this morning for one of my daughters to take for school snack tomorrow. I based it on the Whole Wheat Banana Bread recipe at the “100 Days of Real Food” blog. It was originally for a loaf of banana bread, but I made mini-muffins to make it easier for the kids to eat. You will note that all the sweetness comes from bananas and some honey; there is no refined sugar. So, they are not the sweetest muffins in the world. Also, the flour is 100% whole wheat. But, are they healthy?
Note: My bananas were small, so I used four instead of the original three and I like nuts in my muffins, so I added 1/3 cup of chopped pecans to the batter. I also added ground flax seed for Omega-3s. Since the muffins were smaller than the loaf, I only baked them for 16 minutes at 350 degrees. We will see if the kids all like them.
Whole Wheat Banana Muffins
- 2 1/4 cup whole-wheat pastry flour
- 3/4 tsp baking soda
- 1/4 tsp sea salt
- 2 Tbsp ground flax seed (optional)
- 4 ripe bananas, mashed
- 1/3 cup plain yogurt
- 1/4 cup honey
- 2 eggs (use pastured local eggs if you can get them)
- 1/3 cup peanut oil (use whichever flavorless oil you prefer)
- 1 tsp real vanilla
- 1/3 cup chopped pecans or walnuts (optional)
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F and grease 24-muffin mini-muffin pan.
- Whisk together the pastry flour, baking soda, salt and ground flax seed.
- In a separate bowl, mix mashed bananas with yogurt, honey, eggs, oil, and vanilla.
- Fold the banana mixture into the flour mixture until blended. Do not
- Add optional chopped nuts and pour batter into prepared pan. (Note: I ended up with a bit of extra batter, so made a 5″ cake pan too.)
- Bake muffins for 15-18 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. I gave the small cake pan an extra 5 minutes.