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Posts Tagged ‘snack ideas’

Making your own trail mix could not be easier or more forgiving (have fun with the ingredient choices and portions below to make it to your liking)! I threw some together for a preschool class snack and it took less than five minutes and, best of all, I could prepare it the night before and not have to fuss with it in the morning before school.

Serve it in Dixie cups for a kid-friendly snack or pack it bags for the trail.

Serve it in Dixie cups for a kid-friendly snack or pack it bags for the trail.

Homemade Trail Mix

Ingredients:

1 large container of organic raisins
1 small packet of organic dried cranberries (or other dried fruit of your liking — chopped apricots, pineapple, mango or dates would be good)
1 tub of salted or unsalted peanuts
1 tub of salted or unsalted sunflower seeds (or pepitas, almonds or cashews)
2 cups or more of dark chocolate chips, milk chocolate chips, carob chips or M&Ms

Optional:
2 cups or more of plain stove-popped popcorn

Instructions

Pour all the ingredients into a bowl and stir them together. Package into serving sizes or serve in the bowl.

This homemade trail mix is high in calories (which is what you want in a trail mix, right?) but if you want to reduce the calories for a healthier snack, add in the plain stove-popped popcorn and that cuts the calories per serving significantly.

Survey: Do you call it trail mix or GORP (“Good Old Raisins and Peanuts”)? I called it GORP as a kid but I’d forgotten all about that!

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Monday meant back to school for my kiddos and that meant back to “work” for me. Three or four weeks per year I bring the snack for the preschool class. What compelled me to be on the list for the week after winter break I don’t know. Thank goodness I put it on my calendar and remembered! I even researched a healthy, fun snack that was inexpensive and easy to prepare. It turned out so cute I’m thinking of serving it for the next kids’ book club meeting for my 2nd and 5th grader and the rest of the moms.

Cucumber Cups with Ranch Dressing and Carrots for Dipping

Ingredients for 30 cucumber cups, 2 each for 15 people:
5 large organic cucumbers (you want to leave the skins on)
1 large bag of at least 60 organic baby carrots (you could use regular, peeled and cut carrot sticks)
1 bottle of organic or homemade ranch dressing

Tools:
melon baller or similar scooper
knife

Prep time:
20 minutes

Rinse and scrub the cucumbers. Slice off the ends of the cucumbers. Cut them into 2-inch sections, about 6 sections per cucumber depending on the size. Use a melon baller to scoop out the center of each section, creating a “cup” for the ranch dressing. Reserve the scooped-out cucumber to use in a salad or cucumber soup.

Step one: cut a two-inch section of cucumber and scoop out the center, leaving a cucumber "cup."

Step one: cut a two-inch section of cucumber and scoop out the center, leaving a cucumber “cup.”

Into each cucumber “cup,” pour a small amount of ranch dressing and add two baby carrots or carrot sticks.

These fun dipping cups end up looking like rabbit ears or sushi.

These fun dipping cups ended up looking like rabbit ears or sushi.

I knew I had a hit on my hands when my 8- and 10-year-olds wanted to help me make — and EAT — these before school. The preschool kids loved them too. When I asked my 4-year-old if the class liked them, she said they loved them. “Everyone ate 2, or 3, or 4, or 5! I had the most!”

If you’re looking for other healthy snack ideas, check out:

Ants on a Log
Four Fun Pirate-Themed Snacks

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Ahoy mateys! In order to make snack time fun for Pirate Week at my daughter’s preschool, I created four different pirate-themed snacks:

They were super easy to do and a big hit with the four-year-olds and their teachers.

Pirate Ships

First off, the snack that was the most fun and nutritious, and happened to be peanut-free to boot (my daughter’s class is not nut-free but it was last year so I pay attention to these things!) I made pirate ships from apple slices, mild cheddar cheese and white cheddar cheese. Supplies for 14 servings (28 ships, two ships per person):

– 7 medium or large apples (any variety, preferably organic!), cored and cut into fourths
– 1 block of mild cheddar cheese, cut into 28 thin 1-inch long slices
– 1 block of white cheddar cheese (or swiss or monterey jack), cut into 28 thin 1-inch long slices
– lemon juice (optional, to sprinkle on the apples to keep them from browning – I skipped that)
– toothpicks
– stiff white paper, markers, and glue for the pirate flags

Lucky for me my mom was in town and she helped me prepare the pirate flags the night before I needed them. She made a simple flag shape template and traced and cut out all the flags. She used glue to adhere them to the tops of the toothpick “masts.” On the morning of school, I cut all the apples and cheese slices, and my kids volunteered to assemble the ships: one apple slice stacked with one cheddar and one white cheddar, all speared with the toothpick mast. We had a blast working together and it was very satisfying to see our fleet of pirate ships!

Fleet of pirate ships

These pirate ships would soon be sunk by a mob of hungry preschoolers.

Pirate’s Booty

While this snack was one of the least nutritious, I think the kids enjoyed it the most! My nutrition motto is “everything in moderation” and that includes Pirate’s Booty, the puffed rice and corn treats. I chose the aged white cheddar variety. Good news on the allergy front: Pirate Brands’ products are produced in a nut-free facility and thus are peanut and tree-nut free.

While certainly you could serve this in cups or on plates, we went one step further and prepared individual serving bags of Pirate’s Booty. Supplies for 14 bags:

– 2 10-ounce (extra large) bags of Pirate’s Booty (buy extra if you’re worried as this was just right)
– 14 bags (I used brown paper bags but if you could find wax paper bags that would be better due to the grease on the puffs)
– white or beige paper for pirate treasure map labels (download my free printable template here)
– glue
– twine (optional to tie the bag tops like bags of loot — I just folded the top)

Again, my mom helped me print and glue the labels on the bags in advance. All I had to do on the morning of school was scoop the servings into each bag and fold down the top.

Pirate's Booty

A crossbones X marks the spot for Pirate’s Booty

Melon Cannonballs

This pirate snack wins the award for most beautiful.

Melon balls

Cannonballs packed with melon nutrition

It’s also a gold medalist in “messiest snack due to the likelihood the preparation will drip fruit juice all over your counter and down to the floor, guaranteeing your shoes will stick until you find the time to mop.”

If you have the time, energy and skill to go over the top with the pirate theme, you could carve the watermelon into a pirate ship (Google “pirate ship watermelon” and you’ll see some incredible examples). I stuck to the basics and just served the melon cannonballs in cups.

Supplies for 14+ servings:

– 1 large watermelon
– 1 cantaloupe
– 1 honeydew melon
– 1 melon baller
– cups and forks for serving

Again my children eagerly volunteered to help in the preparation of this snack. They took turns handling the melon baller while I prepped each piece of fruit for maximum scooping potential. (Tip: halve the watermelon. Scoop out a layer of balls. Then cut vertical slices down the short width of each half and scoop more balls out of each side of the vertical slices.)

My preschooler reported that these cannonballs achieved a direct hit. She did say that “some kids only liked one color [watermelon] but some kids liked all the colors [cantaloupe and honeydew too!].” Thank goodness I’d erred on the side of including more watermelon than the other melons.

Pirate Mix

The last snack is arguably the least creative but most guaranteed to please. Note though, that it is NOT peanut-free. In the “Pirate Mix” I offered pirate pegleg pretzel sticks, Gorilla Munch cannonballs, and “gold” “fish” whole grain Goldfish crackers. Supplies:

– 1 bag of pretzel sticks (I buy Snyder’s of Hanover because the pretzel sticks are free of corn syrup)
– 1 box of Gorilla Munch (yes, I know that just because it’s organic it’s not exactly the most nutritious)
– 1 box of Goldfish (I chose the cheddar made with whole grains)
– serving cups

By the fourth day of making pirate snacks for 14 people, I was happy to just open the above containers, mix everything together, and parcel it out into cups.

Pirate mix

Pirate peglegs, cannonballs and “gold” fish

Easy-peasy. A little sweet, a little salty, something to please everyone.

Other Pirate Snack Ideas

Two other cute ideas I saw on the web involved pirates walking the plank. The first was ants on a log — take a slice of celery, fill it will peanut butter and top it with raisins (one of my favorite snacks although I decided the preschoolers might not like it the best and I didn’t want to send peanut butter to school. You could substitute SunButter for a peanut-free alternative). Another cute idea was making a plank out of a long cookie topped with a Teddy Grahams teddy bear with an eye patch painted on it in chocolate icing.

One Final Snack Reminder

Note that the applicable child care laws in California require that preschool snacks include servings from at least two different food groups. Any snack that didn’t include two food groups was served with organic milk instead of water. Yes, I am a rule follower.

Do you have any pirate-themed snack ideas to share? How do you make snack-time fun? I think getting the kids involved in choosing and/or making whatever you plan to serve is the best way to ensure they’ll eat it.

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