No. 24 – Snack attack

My boys are serious snackers!  Weekends are an endless succession of meal, snack, another snack, another meal…you get the picture. They eat constantly! We rely on the usual healthy snack fare most of the time; fruit, nuts, seeds shots, hardboiled eggs, rice cakes slathered in peanut butter, and veggies dipped in hummus, but over the holidays I find myself relying more and more on processed ready-made snacks, which are often, nutritionally, pretty poor. When life gets busy I know all too well how easy it is just to grab some snacks from the supermarket. Guilty as charged! All that sugar, saturated fat, additives and preservatives – not great for little tummies and growing bodies (seriously, how much do boys grow in the summer time?!).

So, in advance of the fast approaching summer holidays, and the picnics galore that a British summer demands, its time to up my snack game and arm myself with some new recipes so I can be one step ahead of their next snack demands of, ‘Mum….I’m hungry’.

For me, an ideal snack to prepare for the kids would have:

  • very little sugar, ideally just naturally occurring sugars
  • plenty of fibre, protein, fruit or vegetables
  • be easily made up in a big batch to last for a few days
  • no long list of ingredients to shop for, just everyday stuff that I’d normally have in the fridge and cupboards
  • take less than 30 mins to make from scratch

Not much to ask is it?

After lots of research and recipe testing, I’ve got some great recipes to share with you, which tick all of my boxes, and what’s more important, they’ve all been taste test approved by my 3 seriously savvy snackers!

First up, a savoury snack which works just as well at breakfast or brunch as at a picnic. Cauli cheese bites are like mini quiches, without the heavy pastry case, and the basic recipe is made from just three ingredients; cauliflower, a little cheese and eggs – easy peasy, and scores big points on my snack requisite list. We love the simplicity and cheesy taste of this version. The recipe is super adaptable however – why not try adding peas, shredded spinach and mint leaves to make the recipe a bit more fancy for a special picnic, or how about replacing the cheddar cheese with feta and adding chopped bacon and tomatoes for a quiche Lorraine style twist? Here’s the basic recipe below, all ready for you to adapt and add your favourite flavours to.

Cauli cheese bites, makes 12

Ingredients

  • Small cauliflower, about 375g of florets
  • 70g grated cheddar cheese
  • 5 eggs

Method

  1. Add the cauliflower florets to a food processor and blitz until the florets have become crumbs – you may need to do this in stages depending on the size of your processor
  2. Whisk the eggs in a large mixing bowl before adding in the grated cheese and cauli crumbs
  3. Grease a muffin tray and spoon the mixture into the greased muffin cups
  4. Pop the tray into a preheated oven at 180c for about 15 minutes until the cauli bites feel just firm to the touch
  5. Leave to cool for a few minutes before serving

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Cauli cheese bites – easy peasy, and scores big points on my snack requisite list

Next up, how about a crunchy cracker, a guilt free biscuit if you will, with the main ingredient being chickpeas? We eat a LOT of chickpeas in our house, so I know that I always have tins in the cupboard, and breakfast is usually porridge, so we have oats-a-plenty too.  Add some garlic, flour (can be gluten free), lemon juice and olive oil, and you’ve got these oaty chickpea crackers, packed full of fibre, protein and slow release carbs (all of which makes me happy), that get gobbled up quickly by the boys every time I make them. They are perfect for babies who are starting to feed themselves as they don’t crumble to pieces in little sticky hands, but are soft enough to be chewed by gums and sore teeth.

If there’s any left for me, I like to dip the crackers in hummus or smashed avocado, or if I’m in a less angelic mood, they also go perfectly with a slab of blue cheese on top, accompanied by a large glass of red wine. Mmmmmm!

Oaty chickpea crackers, makes about 24

Ingredients

  • 400g tin chickpeas, drained
  • 110g oats (can be gluten free)
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • Juice of half a lemon
  • 60ml olive oil

Method

  1. Add the drained chickpeas to a food processor and blitz until they are smooth
  2. Add in the oats, garlic and lemon juice before blitzing again
  3. With the processor running, slowly add in the olive oil, and blitz until the dough comes together
  4. Line a baking tray with baking paper and dollop the dough on top, then cover with another sheet of baking paper and either roll out, or just squash the dough out flat with your hands to about 1/2 cm thick (kids love this bit!)
  5. Score the dough into cracker pieces, I did 6 x 4 pieces, to make it easy to break up once baked and prick with a fork all over to ensure an even bake (another good kid friendly job!)
  6. Pop the baking tray into a preheated oven at 180c for 45 minutes until the crackers are golden, then leave to cool before breaking into pieces and eating!

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Oaty chickpea crackers – get gobbled up quickly by the boys every time I make them

To finish, how about something a bit sweeter, which also packs in the good stuff too? These muffins are made from avocado and banana, and are sweetened just with a few choc chips.  You could use dairy free choc chips if required, or you could always just leave them out if you are making the muffins for a baby under one. That first birthday is always a benchmark for me – after that, pretty much anything goes food wise, on special occasions at least!

I love that these muffins have healthy fats and vitamins from the avocado, and fibre from the bananas.  The boys love the choc chips and the fact that the muffins are slightly green, making them ‘Hulk muffins’. Everyone’s happy – winner!

Avo/banana/choc chip muffins, makes 12

Ingredients

  • 1 medium avocado (make sure its ripe)
  • 2 medium sized bananas
  • 2 eggs
  • 320g flour (can be gluten free)
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 100g choc chips (can be dairy free)

Method

  1. Add the avocado flesh, the bananas and the eggs into a food processor and blitz until they are all combined
  2. Add the flour and baking powder to a large mixing bowl and stir to incorporate the baking powder evenly, then add the choc chips and stir through again
  3. Add the wet ingredients to the dry and stir just enough until the batter is well mixed – don’t overwork the mixture, or the muffins will be too heavy
  4. Spoon the muffin mix into cases and pop the tray into a preheated oven at 180c for 20-25 minutes until the muffin tops are golden and the choc chips melted.
  5. Leave to cool slightly (if you can) before devouring!

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‘Hulk muffins’. Everyone’s happy – winner!

None of these tickle your fancy? There’s more snack ideas here which might be more your thing. Or if you’ve got a failsafe snack recipe that the whole family enjoys, please share it with me! I’m always on the look out for new recipes to put my own twist on in an attempt to fill up my bottomless pit boys!

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