I have been asked a few times now about healthy snack ideas.
I didn't act on this straight away as I'm a 'handful of nuts' and 'piece of cheese' kind of snack person. But after my workshop last week Lauren shared that her biggest challenge was not actual meals but the daily lunch boxes for her son. So I realised it's high time really I made a blog about this!
We are bombarded with packaged snack foods daily and from all sides so the concept of the convenient grab-and-go snack is probably deeply ingrained in most of us, and the idea of making our own often seems like an avoidable hassle.
But most of these can be easily made in batches to be used up over a week or even frozen, so stick with me here: Home-made snacks come with many advantages!
🎯 You control the ingredients so any snacks you make yourself are much healthier by definition (yes, even cakes and cookies!)
🎯 When you make it yourself (get your kids to help you too!) you build a mindful relationship with that food from the start: It's simply impossible to mindlessly grab & gulp something from a package if you made it yourself with some care and effort.
🎯 Home-made snacks are insanely better value and most probably cheaper in absolute terms too (an apple is still cheaper than a mars bar).
Ground rule: To easily boost with extra goodness get into the habit of adding extras to anything you are making, regardless the recipe (any of this will disappear if blended):
Nuts & seeds (whole, chopped, ground or as a nut butter)
Almond flour or coconut flour to replace all or part of refined wheat flour
Lentils or beans (blended in, i.e. invisible)
Grated veggies (likely invisible too, plus sweetish or neutral veggies like carrots and courgettes work well in sweet foods too - think carrot cake)
Herbs & spices (they add both flavour and goodness)
Linseed/flaxseeds or chia seeds (whole or ground) - these also help hold together things if soaked in water first, especially if not using eggs.
Nutritious sweetness to replace sugar: mashed banana, stewed apple/pear (aka apple sauce), chopped/blended dates, other dried fruit (especially figs and apricots), maple syrup, honey. You don't need to cut out sweetness - simply aim for less - it will still taste sweet!
Cocoa powder (100%), cinnamon and vanilla add to the perception of sweetness without adding any sugar content. Btw, cocoa is packed with goodness (antioxidants & minerals). It's the sugar and cheap processed fats in chocolate that are the problem, not the cocoa! Raw (less processed) cocoa is even better, sometimes labelled cacao in that case.
Here we go with some ideas:
Perfect little packets of a meal: sweet or savoury, loaded with veggies, nuts and seeds
Think frittata for savoury: sauté veggies (could also ad bits of meat/ham etc), mix with egg (and maybe cheese, ham etc), bake in muffin tray
Think carrot cake for sweet: grated veggies, raisins, nuts, egg (or a bit of batter) to hold together, bake in a muffin tray.
Check out few examples here, here and here, and you'll get the idea.
Variation: mini pancakes:
an egg & flour batter loaded with good things (grated veggies, cheese, mashed beans/lentils, fruit), fried by the spoonful to create fingerfood-sized pancakes.
Eat with veggies, crackers, bread sticks, fritters/muffins above, on a salad, with pasta or rice, or as a spread on sandwiches. Basically, a dip covers the 'concept' of mashed or blended ingredients (pulses, nuts or (cooked) veggies) made smooth with olive oil, brighter with lemon/vinegar, and tasty with spices & herbs
Mashed veggies: cooked carrot/beetroot/sweet potato/red peppers, blitzed with olive oil, nuts and spices
Sesame paste (tahini): this works well as a savoury dip (e.g. with soy sauce and lemon juice) or a sweet spread (e.g. with maple syrup and cocoa powder)
Nut butter dips (savoury or sweet versions, as in tahini)
Any of the above can be made colourful with added coloured veggies (e.g. hummus blended with green herbs or spinach, or beetroot, or carrot)
Asian style little rolls loaded with fresh veggie strips, maybe also bits of chicken, tuna, hard boiled egg (goes well with a dip too).
Use rice paper or sushi-type nori sheets as wrappers
Any other kind of wrap (tortilla, etc) or soft flatbread works too but may not be so easy to eat - the rice paper ones can be bite sized.
Load them with goodness: oats, seeds & nuts, dried fruit, coconut, and even grated veggies.
Now that you have some ideas, you know what you are looking for: It's now easy to search for sample recipes to use as a basic template as you start experimenting. I have added some examples below to get you started: please keep in mind these are quite randomly picked to illustrate the ideas; I have not tested any of these recipes (except my own).
Always remember: use recipes to extract ideas and methods/principles without getting tangled up in the recipe details as such.