Sarah Pope is a local chapter leader in Florida. She also blogs as The Healthy Home Economist.
Transcript: Healthy Snacks Video
Developing the habit of keeping healthy snacks on hand is a wise practice in homes with growing children and for those whose metabolisms require small, frequent meals.
Unfortunately, refined store-bought carbs are the primary snacks used in lunchboxes and after school. Even organic brands of cookies, chips, and crackers are not ideal choices as most contain rancid vegetable oils or too much sugar.
The best snacks are made at home and combine healthy amounts of fat with protein and alimited amounts of carbs, which will satisfy and nourish without promoting weight gain or that grumpy attitude that children get when they are on the blood sugar roller coaster!
Soaking and Dehydrating Nuts and Seeds
Nuts and seeds make excellent snacks and the wide variety available ensures that at least a few choices will satisfy even the pickiest of eaters.
Wise parents do not serve these snacks raw, however. Careful preparation of raw nuts and seeds with an overnight soak in salted water and then drying in a warm oven or dehydrator is necessary to eliminate difficult-to-digest anti-nutrients and enzyme inhibitors present in the hulls of all seeds.
To give you an example of how the soaking process works, let me show you how I prepare spicy pumpkin seeds, also called pepitas, a favorite snack in my home.
To prepare, mix 4 cups of raw hulled pumpkin seeds, 2 TBL of sea salt, 1 tsp of cayenne pepper and enough filtered water to cover in a large glass bowl.
Leave on the counter uncovered for a minimum of 7 hours or overnight and then drain and dry in a warm 150 degree F oven or dehydrator.
Soaking and drying a variety of nuts to maximize nutrition and digestibility and then mixing with dried fruit into little containers of trail mix make excellent lunchbox snacks or a great afternoon pick me up.
To make 5-6 cups of trail mix, mix one cup each of pecans and almonds or skinless peanuts which have been soaked for 7 hours or overnight in a bowl of filtered water and ½ TBL sea salt. After draining and drying in a warm oven, mix with 1 cup of raisins or dried cranberries and 1 cup of unsulphured apricots cut into pieces. 1 cup of carob chips may also be added if desired.
Making healthy pancakes where fresh flour is soaked overnight to eliminate anti-nutrients and significantly improve nutrition was demonstrated in the Preparation of Grains and Legumes Video.
When making soaked pancakes, be sure to make extra so that any leftovers can be dried out in a warm oven to be used for quick snacks.
Crispy pancakes are delicious topped with raw honey, apple butter, or homemade cream cheese. Homemade cream cheese is demonstrated in the Fermented Foods and Beverages Video.
Don’t forget raw, full fat cheese as one of the simplest and most nourishing snacks available! Be careful of cheeses labeled “raw” in healthfood stores as these cheeses have usually been heated to just below pasteurization temperature and are not truly raw.
Refer to the Weston A. Price Shopping Guide westonaprice.org/shoppingguide for sources of artisanal cheeses and raw cheese retailers.
Popcorn is a treat that delights both young and old but since the corn is not soaked or fermented, be sure not to eat it too often!
It is also best to avoid microwave popcorn and to make it the old fashioned way on the stovetop or with an electric popcorn popper.
Take care to seek organic popcorn since most conventional popcorn will have been sprayed with pesticides.
To make popcorn on the stove, add 2 TBL of expeller pressed coconut oil and ¼ cup of popcorn in a heavy skillet. Cover with a glass lid and warm on medium heat shaking a few times until popping begins. Lower heat and continue shaking until popping dies down.
Place popcorn in a large bowl and drizzle on ¼– ½ cup melted butter or coconut oil and sprinkle on sea salt or nutritional yeast if desired.
Nourishing cookies contain fresh flours or arrowroot powder, natural sweeteners and butter or coconut oil. Please refer to the Natural Sweeteners Video for ideas on which whole sweeteners are best.
Ginger snaps are an easy cookie recipe to try first if you don’t have a grain mill available right away.
Place 1 ½ cups of crispy almonds (as described in the trail mix recipe) in the food processor and process until finely ground. Mix the almond meal together with ½ cup of softened butter, 1 cup arrowroot powder, ½ cup of sucanat, 1 TBL water, 1 ½ tsp ground ginger, 1 tsp cinnamon, ¼ tsp nutmeg and cloves, and ½ tsp of sea salt in a bowl.
Form walnut sized balls of dough and place on cookie sheets coated with coconut oil or parchment paper. Bake at 300 degrees F for 5 minutes and then press each cookie down with a fork. Bake an additional 15 minutes. Let cool and store in airtight containers in the refrigerator.
These cookies are one of my all time favorites for school lunches!
Macaroons are another low carb snack that is quickly made with a few leftover egg whites.
To make about 2 dozen macaroons, beat 4 egg whites with a pinch of sea salt in a glass bowl until stiff peaks form. Beat in 2 TBL arrowroot powder, ½ cup maple syrup and 1 TBL vanilla extract. Fold in 2 cups of dried fine and unsweetened coconut meat if desired.
Drop large spoonfuls on parchment paper-covered cookie sheets and bake at 300 degrees F for 30 minutes. Reduce oven temperature to 200F and bake another hour or two until cookies are completely dry and crisp.
Fudge is universally considered a decadent treat but in your own kitchen, it can easily be transformed into a nourishing snack that will still bring squeals of delight from your children.
To view a video how to for making healthy fudge, please refer to the free video library on my blog.
I hope this video has gotten you thinking about some easy ways to transform the snack situation in your home from one focused on refined snacks from the store to homemade nourishing treats you can feel great about serving your family and yourself.
This is Sarah Pope, TheHealthyHomeEconomist and Chapter Leader for the Weston A. Price Foundation and until next time, I’m wishing you all the best in the kitchen.