Tag Archives: Snacks

Bananas

While shopping in the produce department of my local grocery store I spotted something I had never seen before – red bananas.  I was curious so I bought a few.

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Now, I’m always a little cautious with food related activities because I don’t want to encourage playing with food instead of eating it and sometimes negative food experiences can influence the children’s willingness to try new food items.

My plan was to compare the new red bananas with familiar yellow bananas so as I prepared morning snack I sliced the bananas like this;

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I tried a piece of red banana – advance preparation while the children were all still playing.  The experience was not what I expected.  For what seemed like an eternity I debated about trying to swallow the partially chewed banana slice or spitting it out.

I finally managed to swallow it.  It wasn’t the flavour that bothered me – actually, I wasn’t even certain that it had any noticeable flavour.  I was focused on the texture – it was horrible – grainy, dry…not like anything I have eaten before.

There was no way I could serve these red bananas to the children. Most of the children love bananas – these red bananas might change their opinion of bananas forever!  The children happily ate their YELLOW bananas with homemade biscuits and milk for morning snack.

The red bananas were left sitting on the counter while I did some research and debated about what to do with them now.  I wondered if they were maybe just not ripe?  I love under ripe yellow/green bananas because of the texture.  If the red ones were just under ripe would that account for the horrible texture?

I checked the red bananas daily – after a full week they finally seemed to soften a little.  Tentatively I tried another small piece.  It was fabulous! Wonderfully sweet, mild banana flavour and perfect texture.  Today we would have yellow and red bananas for afternoon snack.

I showed the children the whole red banana and asked them to identify it.  “Banana!” was the unanimous response so I asked if they noticed anything unusual about the banana.  The responses included;

  • “They are tiny.”
  • “They are straight, not curved.”
  • “They are made of meat – ham.”

OK, this is not at all what I expected.  I asked if they noticed anything about the colour.  They replied that the bananas were red – a fact they seemed to think was so obvious that it wasn’t even worth mentioning. Now, enough talking, let’s eat.

Everyone loved the red bananas as much or maybe more than the yellow bananas.  The only exception was the one child who doesn’t like yellow bananas – she wouldn’t even try the red ones.

I doubt the response would have been the same if I had given them the bananas last week.  I guess that they are ripe now but the colour hasn’t changed, just the flavour – and the texture.

Sprouts

We’ve been trapped indoors all week because it is too cold to play outside.  If I had magic powers winter would be gone and we’d be out in the garden.  Instead, I brought the garden in to us.

We haven’t had much success with our indoor gardening in the past.  Indoor ornamental plants do OK but our attempts to grow edible plants indoors have usually failed.  I decided that this time we would try growing sprouts.

First the toddlers checked out the sprouting supplies that I purchased from Sage Garden Herbs;

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We had two different types of seeds, an Ancient Eastern Blend, and a Crunchy Bean Mix. We put one type in each of the two sections of our sprouter;

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Then we rinsed them with water.  We used the little toddler sink so everyone could stand and watch the seeds and water mix;

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Then, we put on the cover and placed it on the counter until the next day.  At morning snack time we checked the sprouter.  Starting to grow already!

Sprouts - Day One
Sprouts – Day One

We rinsed them again and by Wednesday there were even more sprouts;

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Sprouts – Day Two

More water and Thursday – Wow!

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Sprouts – Day Three

Time to taste them.  Baby one just wanted to play with them;

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Baby two was unimpressed;

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Both the two-year-olds ate theirs.  One claimed they were ‘delicious’ but shuddered after every bite.  The other ate them by the handful and wanted more.

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I absolutely loved this gardening project which we could see from seed to harvest in under a week.

Replacing Crackers

I was at a meeting with other childcare providers and the subject of crackers came up.  Conversation centered around the use of crackers as the ‘grain’ portion of meals and snacks.  There was a brief moment of silence after I commented that I didn’t think the children liked crackers all that much so we rarely have them here.

Then I had to clarify my statement;  The children don’t like the crackers that I am willing to buy.  I have searched through the cracker aisle in the grocery store and read every label.  My husband has been near meltdown stage begging me to just pick a box and move on. I sigh and choose a variety that is somewhat (barely) acceptable.  I won’t advertise the brand but this is the nutrition label;

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The sodium level is still too high but it is less than some of the other types and at least it has some fibre.  Most crackers have none – even many of the ones that claim to be multigrain or wholegrain.  The only ‘benefit’ to this purchase is that this 200g box will be in my pantry for at least two months.

Yes, you read that correctly.  Even with eight children in care it will take about that long to finish a single box of crackers.  There are some types of crackers that the children really do like and will consume more of but the nutrition labels for them are nearly identical to that of a bag of chips.

Our four week menu has two snacks per day, five days per week for a total of 40 snacks.  Each snack has a serving of each of these food groups – fruit, dairy and grain.  Currently I only use packaged crackers for two of those 40 snacks.  So what are the other 38 you ask?

  • Oatmeal – the steel cut kind – I refuse to buy/make the overly processed varieties.
  • Store bought breads & bagels – always whole wheat or multigrain – the heavier the better.  We haven’t had any type of white bread here in the last 10 years.
  • Homemade breads etc – apple bread, raisin bread, pumpkin loaf, biscuits, and more.  I use only whole wheat flour even when the recipe calls for all purpose.
  • Breakfast cereals – high fibre with limited sugar – a processed item that I think is acceptable when only offered once per week.
  • Quinoa Pudding
  • Quesadillas made with multigrain tortillas
  • Homemade cookies and bars – all contain wholegrain flour and old fashioned oats

There are also a few snack items that I am considering eliminating.  Things like rice crispy squares and store bought waffles, and graham wafers. A total of six items in the four week menu that I’d like to replace – eight items if I replace those crackers too.

These items might be considered ‘treats’ but are certainly not necessities.  I’d even question the use of the term ‘convenience’ in reference to these items.  Healthier options are not a lot more work.  A big batch of biscuits or scones takes less than an hour to prepare, bake and clean up after.  They freeze well so they can be prepared in advance and used a required.

What about the cost of homemade snacks verses the cost of store bought items? Financially I think it varies but most of the homemade items are less expensive.  Time wise homemade items may cost more unless you are like me and spend hours in the store reading labels before you buy.  Nutritionally there is no contest – homemade always beats processed.

So, I’m off to find some new recipes.  I’ve got a long weekend ahead and a half empty freezer.  First up I think I’ll try something I’ve never made before – biscotti.  Maybe I’ll find a way to use all that pumpkin puree I have left from last fall…