Are your kids big snackers? Well then the holiday season is the perfect time for them! Bite sized foods abound at various holiday gatherings, school parties and family celebrations. Everything from healthy nibbles like cheese and crackers and fruit, to more indulgent cookies, chocolate, and candy. The hardest part is making sure the kids don’t overdo it! But hey that’s what New Year’s is for, right?
Now, for grownups, making meals out of snacks is a holiday extravagance (of which I am more than happy to take part of!). But young kids really do require a couple of snacks throughout the day to fuel their bodies and minds. Guidelines state that two small snacks, morning and afternoon, are necessary for little ones, and for school age children, a healthy afternoon snack will help bridge the gap between lunch and dinner.
With kids like mine, who would gladly eat snack foods for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, we just have to make sure snacks take place at least an hour before the next mealtime, or they will leave their regular plate untouched. Also, in order to keep to our no grazing policy, I won’t allow my kids to let snacks replace meals, so we keep them very small.
With that said, I have no problem including some more snack-like foods to change up our mealtime routine a bit. Around here one of our absolute favorite appetizers turned meal has to be the party dog, aka pigs in a blanket. So they will surely be making their holiday appearance soon. Yogurts, cheese and crackers, and cut up fruits and veggies are often part of our regular meals as well.
So you feel can pretty good about serving up some fun holiday snacks for after school or nap time, or to send to your kiddie’s next holiday event. Ditch those tired old carrot sticks and replace them with some festive cut up cucumber or celery trees adorned with grape tomato ornaments and green, red, and yellow pepper garland. Serve with your kid’s favorite dips like hummus or ranch dressing.
If you will be out and about on holiday shopping expeditions and errands, then you can tote along some holiday versions of your kid’s favorite snacks. Kids will appreciate having a little something to keep their energy and spirits up, and you’ll avoid starting a vending machine or fast food habit.
I am not normally a fan of using snacks to stave off boredom, but sometimes, special times call for some special measures. Plus, we all know that one quick little holiday errand can often take more than twice the time at this time of year with so much traffic and crowds! Ideal take-along snacks include apple or pear wedges, plain or spread with peanut butter, veggie sticks, or some healthful Carrot, Apple, and Cheddar mini muffins.
Another holiday favorite around here is homemade Chex mix. It’s the perfect thing to have at family gatherings! Or try making a jolly holiday popcorn mix with a mix of different flavors and textures; pop some fresh popcorn and add dried fruit like cranberries or raisins, pumpkin seeds, nuts such as almonds or cashews, and your favorite seasonings. For a sweeter mix you could add chocolate chips and cinnamon, and for a savory version you can sprinkle some Parmesan cheese and add pretzel sticks.
Carrot, Apple, and Cheddar Muffins Recipe
Ready in: under 30 minutes
1 1/2 cup all purpose flour
1/2 cup whole wheat flour or white whole wheat flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup light brown sugar
3/4 cup milk
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 apples, peeled and coarsely grated
2 large carrots, peeled and finely grated
3 1/2 ounces shredded cheddar cheese
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Grease or line 24 mini muffin cups or 12 standard muffin cups.
Stir together flours, baking powder, baking soda, salt and brown sugar. Mix together milk, egg, and vegetable oil; stir into dry ingredients until just combined. Fold in apple, carrots and cheese.
Spoon into muffin pans and bake for 15-20 minutes or until golden brown. Store at room temperature for up to two days, or freeze.