I really try not to judge…
…but I’m going to do it anyway so please excuse me while I climb on my soap box for just a sec. Here it comes:
The mountain of crappy snack foods that most children consume on a daily basis downright scares me. Call me crazy but a bag of Cheetos is not a meal! And no, this has nothing to do with the new-ish “I eat cleaner than you therefore I must be better than you” competition that seems to be going on everywhere. Honest to goodness, to me this is simply common sense.
While I’m pretty sure that one cupcake in an otherwise healthy diet has never killed anyone, I do want to avoid the vicious cycle of my kids eating too many empty calorie snacks, developing blood sugar spikes and cravings, not being hungry for and eating real meals, reaching for more snacks and so forth. Not to mention what this kind of eating behavior would do to their teeth!
This is not to say that I never let my kids eat holiday candy or birthday cake or potato chips at a BBQ. I do because I want them to develop a healthy relationship with food which in my mind includes learning about and practicing moderation. Otherwise, I would probably set them up for overindulgence at every opportunity they get when they are not with me.
My hope is to instill a love for nutritious, whole foods now so that they will be able to make sound choices going forward. At home, we typically eat three meals and one or two snacks during the day. For each they get to pick one “healthy” snack first (carrots, organic unsweetened apple sauce, blueberries, bananas, almonds, string cheese, hard boiled eggs, hummus, homemade yogurt, homemade cereal or fruit bars…). If they eat it and are still hungry they then get to have a little bit of a “sugary” snack (a handful of organic crackers, organic tortilla or pita chips, very rarely 50:50 diluted apple or orange juice…). As I have mentioned before, avoiding absolutely all processed foods is not practical for most, including myself. However, I generally try to stay away from GMOs, a long laundry list of ingredients, heaps of added sugar, fake dyes and artificial flavors.
To keep snacking wholesome and interesting, I’m always looking for some new additions to my bag of tricks and was thrilled when one of my best gal pals from Germany (a yogi and dentist!) send some yummy recipes my way. This one to make the above pictured bite-sized sweet yet refined sugar-free delights is pretty straight forward. After experimenting with a couple of different versions, I made the following a staple in my Haus:
- 1 cup dried dates
- 1/2 cup walnuts
- 1/2 cup pecans
- 1 tablespoon unsweetened coconut flakes; a little extra for “decorating”
- 1/2-1 tablespoon unsweetened cocoa powder
- 1 tablespoon maple syrup
- Put all ingredients in a food processor (I finally caved and bought a proper one…more on that later!)
- Chop/blend until mixture is smooth and holds together
- Take a tablespoon measuring cup to portion the mixture, then form with your hands into a ball
- Roll each ball in the remaining unsweetened coconut flakes so the outside is covered evenly
- Store in the fridge for a few days
- The above mentioned amount of ingredients makes about 12-14 balls. I recently tripled the recipe so Mr. Healthy Haus could take about 40 to a work potluck. Easy!
- Instead of dates you could use dried mangoes or apricots, cashews instead of pecans, and raw organic honey instead of maple syrup. Feel free to add a little bit of ground cinnamon or a tablespoon of seeds (chia, sesame, milled flax).
- These make for a delicious snack or even treat for kids and grown-ups alike. They pair great with milk or coffee. Just try not to eat them all at once.