Monday, March 15, 2010

Favorite Healthy Snacks

So, I live in a household of snackers. My kids graze all day long. As long as the snacks are healthy and they cover all of the food groups, I'm happy to let them graze. What they love: popcorn (recipe below for make your own microwave popcorn), homemade chex mix, fruit/yogurt smoothies, string cheese.

I'm not going to give you the recipe for Chex Mix; you can find it right on any box of Chex cereal. I highly recommend following the instructions for microwave prep as it takes 6 minutes instead of the 1 hr 15 minute oven method. My daughter and I made a big batch this past weekend. We only had two of the three kinds of cereal called for in the recipe so we improvised and added some Cheerios as a substitution. It turned out great!

We love us some popcorn in our house! I am way too cheap (and health conscious) to buy microwave popcorn. I buy the popcorn seeds in bulk at Winco and store them in the fridge. I used to cook the popcorn the old fashioned way by standing over the stove and shaking the pan until I thought that my arms would fall off. The kids do like to watch the kernels pop, but I don't like putting forth the effort. Instead, I make it in the microwave and here's how:

Make Your Own Microwave Popcorn:

1/2 cup popcorn seeds
1 teaspoon vegetable oil or olive oil or butter
salt to taste

In a bowl mix the seeds, oil and salt until the seeds are well coated.
Pour into a small brown paper bag.
Place bag into microwave (right side up - do NOT place the bag on it's side).
Microwave popcorn for 2:30 to 3:00 minutes or until the popping sound is longer than two seconds apart.
Open the paper bag slowly as the steam will be hot.

If you want to be a bit naughty, check out A Thrifty Mom's recipe for microwave caramel corn! I could marry this caramel corn and live happily ever after - it's that good.

Smoothies: My son would love to have a smoothie every day for breakfast, lunch or dinner. I don't have a "recipe", but rather a method to my madness. Here are the key components: juice, yogurt, frozen fruit. In my blender I pour about 1 1/2 to 2 cups of whatever fruit juice I have on hand, I then add about 1 cup of whatever yogurt I have on hand, then add frozen fruit. The amount of fruit varies by how much I have on hand. I usually add 2 to 3 frozen bananas and half a bag of frozen strawberries. I've also added fruit from a can or jar. I just freeze the fruit on a cookie sheet the night before I'm going to make smoothies. It's a great way to use up odds and ends of fresh and canned fruit. Once you have everything in the blender, pulse it a few times to get the "juices" flowing and then blend on high until it is smooth. I'm getting pretty good at getting the right consistency so that they can be drank through a straw. If they turn out too thick, I just add some additional juice.

Do you have any favorite fast healthy snack recipes to share? Does anybody have a good one for granola or granola bars?

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