Rooted In Wonder:
Nurturing Your Family's Faith Through God's Creation
Master Naturalist, Bible teacher, author, wife, and mama of four! Join our adventures of discovering God while adventuring in creation.
Our two year old is a scrawny little stick. I recognize that it is simply his body type, but it still seems as though we are on a constant mission to fatten the kid up. More than fatten him up, we are really just trying to remind the child to eat! It seems as though building block towers, locating dead flies, escaping nap time, and counting trains, “one, two, fiy, ayt, ten!” is just so much more important than consuming food.
And despite my greatest aspirations and efforts, he is also picky. But we’ve found a way to remedy both his picky preferences and his forgetfulness surrounding eating: we make delicious (and simple) healthy snacks that he just can’t resist!
In preparation for this post I asked my readers via Facebook what one word came to mind when they thought of “Healthy snacking.” One reader responded with “Battle”. I love that response, because it speaks to my own feelings, at times, towards making healthy snacks for my family. There is a tension of not enough time, and that tension can only be relieved with the acceptance of this:
If we tried, then we’d have no time left for building tents, reading storybooks, and sitting and cuddling, which is what our children need so much more than granola bars made from scratch. But–what we can do is this: we can make sure that most of their snacks are made at home.
All of the snacks I’ll outline below are relatively simple to make and don’t require too much time. However, making food at home always requires some time sacrifice. Yes, we strive to always have homemade options for snacks available, but sometimes life gets sticky, time runs out, and bellies still grow hungry.
This means that on occasion I do hand out a snack cup with pretzel sticks or Annie’s organic crackers. Organic? Yes. Processed? Yes…. But we have to realize that we can only do so much! So do yourself a favor and celebrate what you can do, keep challenging yourself to learn and do a little bit more as you can, but don’t let anyone (including yourself) look down on you for not making everything from scratch!
That said, here are some of our favorite simple and delicious whole food snacks, all of them approved by my picky two-year-old!
First, why make your own trail mix? When there are vast options and mixes out there to choose from (just walk down the trail mix aisle at Target!), why would you want to take your time to make it at home?
Next time your at the market, take a look at the ingredient lists on trail mix packaging. Your likely to find a whole lot of extra ingredients beyond nuts and fruit. Most (if not all) of those trails already mixed in their bags contain candy, dried fruits coated in corn syrup or sugar, and nuts prepared with toxic hydrogenated (highly-processed) vegetable oils.
All of these unhealthy ingredients are unnecessary, and can be avoided by simply making your own trail mix at home. Trail mix is also a lot tastier when there’s an element of time and love mixed in.
I have found the best deals and selection of nuts and seeds at Trader Joes. This is where I buy all of the ingredients for this mix, except for the peanuts and raisins. Trader Joes does not carry raw (blanched) peanuts. They can be difficult to locate. If your local health store doesn’t carry them, you can substitute already-roasted peanuts, just add them after roasting the rest of the mix. And the only reason I don’t buy raisins from Trader Joes is because my two-year-old consumes an extraordinary amount of raisins, so we have to buy them in bulk elsewhere. Aside from these two ingredients, everything else comes from Good Ol’ Joe.
Purchasing your ingredients from Trader Joes, the ingredients for one batch (about 13 cups) of this trail mix will cost you approximately $26, which comes to about $2 per 1/2 cup serving. You might not save money making trail mix at home; nuts and seeds are expensive ingredients any way you buy them, but making food from scratch isn’t always about saving money, it’s about providing our loved ones with delicious, nourishing treats.
Store your trail mix in an airtight bag or container. I use the word “store” loosely, because 4+ pounds of trail mix seldom lasts more than a week around here. We keep ours in a glass airtight container on the counter, easily accessible for nibbling. Not even our busy little two-year-old can pass by that trail mix as it glimmers through transparent glass beckoning him come, come and push that little white lid, watch the magic happen as it pops open, and partake of the treasure within.
Whether your child is like mine—too busy to remember to stop and eat—or you’d just like to replace some of their more processed snacks for more wholesome (but simple) options, this trail mix is a great place to begin.
We’ve given this trail mix as gifts, and even used it as currency to pay babysitters. On that note—if you don’t feel like running out to Trader Joes to stock up on the ingredients, then feel free to come by our place instead and watch the boys for a few hours, I’ll happily trade some trail mix for that 😉
When you’re switching to a whole food way of eating, the thought of cooking everything from scratch is just too overwhelming, so start small. Here is my challenge to you: try making a new whole food snack from scratch every month. You can start with the list I gave above. As you introduce whole food snacks, they will naturally replace the processed snacks in your diet and home.
A couple of weeks ago I presented a challenge to readers for 2014: invest a little more time this year in your health. Replacing processed snacks for homemade ones is one small but powerful action step that will help you gain momentum in pursuing that bigger vision: a more abundant and healthful lifestyle!
Raising kids stirs something deep in our souls — an innate knowing that our time is finite. Taking my kids outside in creation, I’m discovering how to stretch our time and pack it to the brim with meaning. God’s creativity provides the riches of resources for teaching the next generation who He is and how He loves us. Join our adventure and discover inspiration and resources for refusing rush, creating habits of rest, living intentionally, and making the most of this beautiful life!