Easy, fun, and healthy summertime snacks!

I hope you are hungry because today we are going to make some snacks that are fun and healthy. These are simple recipes kids like you can do on your own or with a little bit of help from an adult.

When I was a kid, my mom gave my brother and I a cookbook for kids. Each week my brother and took turns choosing recipes that we would make for the family. Now, I don’t remember any true disasters but what I do remember is how proud and a little nervous I was about my family trying and liking my cooking. It was fun to cook together and be the one choosing what we would eat. I know cooking was not my mom’s favorite thing to do but I appreciate that she was patient and made an effort to instill joy in cooking and trying new things.

If any of you grew gardens over the summer, you may want to incorporate as many fresh ingredients as possible. I find that in the summer I crave a lot of fresh fruit and veggies; and, with it being so hot out lately, I want something that feels light and refreshing. Here’s a picture of me  with grapes grown in my backyard. I love being able to go out in my yard and eat the grapes and raspberries right off the vine. What’s growing in your garden?

Smoothies…fun and tasty! This is a great snack idea or something to go along with any meal. Smoothies are healthy and easy to make. You don’t need to have a blender (it helps, but you can also use an immersion blender or food processor). As a kid, I was never a fan of watermelon yet when a friend made me a watermelon smoothie, I was sold! I love the simplicity of a watermelon smoothie–it feels light, yummy, and there is not a lot of cleanup. Give it a little kick by adding mint to the mix. There are all kinds of smoothies, and something for everyone, like fruit smoothies, green smoothies, and even dessert smoothies. If a smoothie doesn’t leave you feeling full, try adding a bit of protein such as avocado, almond butter, peanut butter, flax, or chia seeds. You can think of this as a science experiment; try a different type of fruit each time. Ask yourself “what goes well with a banana?” or “hmmm, that didn’t taste how I thought it would!”. Mix it up every time you get into the kitchen! If you are doing a fruit smoothie, try a couple of different types of fruit: see the sample recipe for ideas.

  • 1 cup milk (non-dairy milks work best for consistency)
    • Tip: use 1/2 milk and 1/2 water or coconut water
  • 1 small banana, fresh or frozen
  • 1/2 cup fresh or frozen fruit (blueberries, strawberries, mango, apple, or kiwi)
  • 1/2 cup veggies (kale, spinach, raw fresh or frozen chopped cauliflower, raw fresh or frozen sliced zucchini, raw fresh or frozen sliced summer squash, roasted sweet potato, roasted butternut squash, steamed diced beets)

Optional add ins (pick 1-2): 1 teaspoon hemp seeds, chia seeds, or ground flaxseed; 1 tablespoon nut butter; 2 tablespoons avocado; 1-2 teaspoons cocoa powder; 1-2 teaspoons honey or maple syrup; 1 tablespoon rolled oats.

If you are using frozen fruit, especially in the winter, put your choice of frozen fruit cubes in a jar with milk. Place your smoothie in the refrigerator overnight, and then blend it in the morning. The milk will help to break down the fruit, and if in the morning the fruit did not dissolve completely, throw it in the blender. If you don’t enjoy the consistency of a smoothie, you can instead freeze them to make popsicles. So next time you are craving something sweet, try a smoothie or a frozen treat!

Fruit and Veggie Kabobs         

One of my favorite foods has always been kabob. I would choose it as my birthday dinner every year growing up. Fruit and veggie kabobs can be creative and tasty, something for everyone. Kids can go to the store to help pick out their favorite fruit and veggies and even a few new ones can add to the array of flavors and colors. Make a game out of it by challenging yourself to choose at least five different colors of veggies and fruits for the kabobs. Raw veggie kabobs can be made with carrots, cucumbers, tomatoes, or mushrooms…or ask an adult for help to throw them on the grill. Around this time of year the zucchini, squash, and tomatoes are ready to eat from the garden and they bring out a lot of flavor by tossing them on the grill. Fruit kabobs can make for a yummy snack or even dessert. Just wash, slice, and add to the skewer with fruits such as kiwi, bananas, pineapple, grapes, cantaloupe, melon, and blueberries. For the littles, this can be a fun way to learn colors and practice their counting. Hot off the grill or fresh from the garden, have fun trying new fruits and veggies this summer.

Desserts…yummmy!

  • Mango Sticky Rice: mmmmm, just thinking about this dish makes my mouth water. It is a traditional Thai dessert and only needs a few ingredients. You may need help with the first step of cooking some sticky rice. A rice cooker can be used or you can cook it over the stove. The following ingredients will be needed: rice, mango, coconut milk, sugar, salt, and sesame seeds.

In a bowl, wash rice well in several changes of cold water until water is clear. Soak the rice in cold water to cover overnight.

Drain rice well in a sieve. Set sieve over a large deep saucepan of simmering water (sieve should not touch water) and steam rice, covered with a kitchen towel and a lid, 30 to 40 minutes, or until tender (check water level in pan occasionally, adding more water if necessary).

While rice is cooking, in a small saucepan bring 1 cup coconut milk to a boil with 1/3 cup sugar and salt, stirring until sugar is dissolved, and remove from heat. Keep mixture warm.

Transfer cooked rice to a bowl and stir in coconut-milk mixture. Let rice stand, covered, 30 minutes, or until coconut-milk mixture is absorbed. Rice may be prepared up to this point two hours ahead and kept covered at room temperature.

While rice is standing, in cleaned small pan slowly boil remaining 1/3 cup coconut milk with remaining 3 tablespoons sugar, stirring occasionally, 1 minute. Transfer sauce to a small bowl and chill until cool and thickened slightly.

To serve, mold 1/4 cup servings of sticky rice on dessert plates. Drizzle desserts with sauce and sprinkle with sesame seeds. You can either just place sliced mango on the plate around the rice,  or cut the mango up in small cubes and mix into the rice as I prefer to do. I love my sticky rice to be cold before I eat it, so letting it cool overnight is helpful. Enjoy!

  • Carob Energy Bites: these are fun to make as a family and require few ingredients. I love having these on a hike, especially to give you that much needed push to get to the top of the mountain and they pack well. Ingredients needed: almonds, coconut, carob powder, and maple syrup. It is a very simple but delicious recipe to have for your adventures out this summer. Check out the complete instructions from Michelle Blackwood, RN and creator of Healthier Steps

For more cooking ideas, whether you are camping, a first-time cook, or just exploring flavors from around world, try one of these books from the Library. Thanks for joining me today to do a bit of exploring into the world of cooking…see you in the kitchen!

Cooking is at once child’s play and adult joy. And cooking done with care is an act of love. — Craig Claiborne

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