Saturday, April 12, 2008

After school snack

My kids, like many, have activities every day after school each week which run the gamut of music lessons to sports. My son is usually starving after school and on some days he will munch on the remains of his lunch, but like most of us, he likes to dig into his packed snack to see what I packed. Typically on these nights, it is well after 7PM before we get home, so I pack something substantial enough to hold him over until dinner. I tend to pack more than they will eat so there is enough for me to graze a bit as well.

This is a typical snack before athletic days: Air popped popcorn; mini fruit bento consisting of half a sliced kiwi, sliced strawberries, and red grapes, sandwich bento containing a mini corn muffin, tuna salad wedge - solid white tuna, mayonnaise, salt, pepper, and a bit of horseradish on whole wheat bread and a bit of lettuce, sliced red and yellow bell peppers and cucumbers, and a mini corn muffin; homemade trail mix containing walnuts (great vegan source of Omega-3's), raisins, and milk chocolate chips; chocolate soy milk in a reusable drink container.

When I make after school snacks, I make a point to include a healthy dose of protein, whether it's some tuna or peanut butter. I also include some whole grains as either bread or crackers. Air popped popcorn is a great choice because it has a fun texture and flavor and it's quite filling without saturated fats found in many other salty snacks. Fruit, in some form or another, is a must and in the warmer months I make sure there is a bottle of water, reusable, of course.

Sometimes I throw in a fruit bar, such as the ones available at Trader Joe's because my son doesn't like raisins. My daughter, on the other hand, picks them out of the trail mix with the chocolate chips and leaves behind the walnuts. While some parents might question the chocolate chips and chocolate milk, my feeling is that a little bit of chocolate is ok in moderation. I don't want my kids to feel deprived of treats, so a few chocolate chips and some chocolate milk a few times a week goes a long way.

One treat that they get once a week at most on skating days is a drink box of Horizon Organic Chocolate milk. It's sooooooo good. I started buying it as a healthier alternative to the nasty, sugary sweet hot cocoa at the concession stand at the skating rink. Normally I avoid drink boxes in favor of reusable containers, but when it comes to this chocolate milk, I just don't have the self discipline to let a half-gallon container sit in the refrigerator, lonely, dejected, and sad among the juice, soy milk, and regular milk. Out of pity, guilt, I could polish off a gallon of this stuff at one sitting. It's that good. So in favor of my budget and my waistline, drink boxes it is. Exercising the restraint not to drink those is tough enough. Our rink is so cold, however, that occasionally I give in and let them have cocoa, although I split the contents into two cups and add a bit of milk to cut the sugar factor a bit. Having the really yummy chocolate milk, however, has proven to be a tasty alternative for them and now they rarely ask for cocoa.

Thank you, Shushi Masi, for the lovely hand-loomed and handpainted napkin brought back from India. Profits from these homemade textiles can support an entire family in rural India for a month. We are very lucky to have a set of six of them!

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