By Chef Joey
It’s all back! The fall season, school and me! It has been a while, but I am back at CECELIA with my trusty pen and a few easy tips for healthy snacks.
My Miss Gigi is in now in her second year of school and growing at a rapid rate that is fueled by a never-ending supply of snacks!
Toss in a few neighborhood kids during play time in our backyard and the volume goes up!
A pan, a drop of oil and 10 minutes gets you a snack. And if you shake some parmesan cheese on top, you add a splatter of protein and flavor, and your “Smart Food” just cost you a whole lot less.
Cookies, small cakes and muffins are always the safe way to go. Hermits, for example, are quick, easy to make, tasty as can be and full of healthy goodies like eggs and real molasses (recipe below).
My other favorite thing to make with molasses are cookies. You do not need to add extra sugar, and they’re loaded with eggs, cinnamon and ginger – kids love them! (recipe below)
Small cakes are fun, too, and easy to store and portion out. I bought mini-cupcake tins this year and make batches of 24 mini-cakes that I freeze. Pop them into the lunch bag and they are fresh and thawed by lunch! Google any cake mix and divide it in half – this gives you a smaller batch to make. I usually put in less sugar than the recipe calls for. A bag of flour is significantly less expensive than 1 box of premade mix and much healthier – and takes the same amount of time.
We all know about the healthy yogurt drinks/pouches and apple sauces that are available – finally unsweetened. These are a fantastic addition to a bag lunch and more appealing to a young kid than an apple!
Lunches can be boring, but not if you change the salad parameters! Subbing quinoa for salad greens is great, and you can add a protein (tofu cubes, tuna, diced chicken etc.), cook a double batch of the ancient grains and let them cool.
You can literally add anything: chopped red onions, scallions, shredded carrots, diced cukes or even feta cheese. Season with a great salad dressing, and you have a healthy multi-grain lunch that is low in calories and high in fiber. I also sub quinoa or faro for couscous and make tabbouleh with it – simply add chopped scallions, parsley, mint, diced cukes, tomato too if you want – add fresh lemon juice and some olive oil to taste – salt and pepper and you have another option that does not go soggy!
For lunches, I try and mix up the sandwiches. I start with fresh bread – Gigi loves Syrian bread, sometimes I make 3 cheese sandwiches – and a smear of butter inside – it’s a lactose delight that fills the tummy. I cut these in small pieces so it is more of a snack than a sandwich. The important thing to remember is making something that your kids like to begin with and turn it into something else – baked salmon, cold mixed with a little dill, mayo and a touch of Dijon mustard makes a great salmon spread instead of tuna! Frozen 4 oz wild filets are cost effective for this tasty lunch.
Taking the time to shop and look at the prices per pound is the way to shop – don’t hesitate to buy sale items and freeze them.
Another favorite is pork cutlets. Cut them thin, pound them out a little, pat them with flour in a bowl, beat 2 eggs, and in another bowl add some seasoned breadcrumbs. Dip in the egg, then the crumbs, and fry lightly until golden brown. Dry on a paper towel and place in the fridge – always a tasty snack! You can do this with chicken, veal or turkey! No bread needed!!
1 ½ cups soft butter (room temp to blend)
½ cup white sugar
½ cup brown sugar
½ cup molasses
4 ½ cups flour
4 tsp baking soda
1 tbsp ground ginger
2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp cround cloves
½ tsp salt
Mix the dry ingredients together – whip the butter until fluffy, add molasses and one egg at a time until light and fluffy.
Add the dry ingredients and mix well.
Chill mix for an hour.
Heat oven to 350 degrees – roll out into small balls and place on cookie sheet – bake 8 to10 minutes, depending on your oven and cool on a rack.
These cookies can be stored for up to 3 months!
1/3 cup raisins (cover in boiling water while prepping)
1 cup flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
½ tsp ground ginger
½ tsp ground cinnamon
¼ tsp salt
¼ cup molasses
3 tbsp butter melted
1 large egg
1 tsp vanilla
1/3 cup walnuts (optional)
Mix the molasses, butter, egg and vanilla – and fold in the rest – drain the raisins first.
Spread the batter (on parchment paper is ideal) using wet hands and form into a rectangle (divide batter into 2 batches, if you have small pans). You want the rectangle to be about 2 inches wide and 1 inch high to cut it into 1 x 2 cookies.
Bake at 375 degrees until the edges are crisp – around 10 to 15 mins. Cut into strips and cool on a rack!
Enjoy! And get plenty of recess!😉