In the daily pick up ritual of my 5-year-old from school, her first question always is, ‘What did you bring me for snack today?‘ Invariably, the next thing she does is paw through my hand bag in search of the much anticipated treat!
After many weeks of yoyos and bear paws, we both felt it was time to move on. I gave the fresh fruit and vegetable sticks a go, but those always met with a look of real disappointment. The fruit and veg did not stand a chance with my daughter’s expectations for something that was more exciting to eat. And woe was me on the occasional day I forgot a snack – I endured some very slow and grumpy trips home in that critical time between the end of the long school day and getting back home for some proper food.
I’ve never been satisfied with what the local shops and bakeries have on offer for children’s afternoon snacks. Many still tend to be highly processed and full of sugar and additives. Even the freshly baked options mostly consist of cupcakes with mountain high swirls of icing sugar and the likes of sugary cookies and chocolate brownies.
Of course, the occasional special indulgent treat is fine, but I found that the more the sugary treats my daughter was having, the more she actually craved them.
Besides, why not have savoury snacks as well once in a while?
Victory in the after-school sugar fix battle had to be won once and for all. I was on a mission to discover fabulous new snacks, ones that were both delicious and nourishing, and that my daughter would love.
In coming up with recipe ideas, I had the following in mind. The snacks had to:
1) be quick and easy to prepare
2) use ingredients that I had in the cupboard
3) work in big batches that I could either freeze or store
4) look appetising to my daughter when she yanked them from my handbag
My 2 top picks? Raw Nut-free ‘Truffles’ and Spinach-Cheese Stars.
These two became so popular with my daughter and her school friends (and any left overs at play-dates seem to be immediately scooped up by the parents!) that we now include them regularly in the snack range that is a part of Quince’s school meal scheme
If you think that fussy children won’t eat seeds and dried fruit, or a snack that has spinach (!) they really do. Try them with your kids, and enjoy making them together too! Happy snacking…
Raw Truffles (makes about 15 small balls)
There are endless variation of these energy-packed balls.
I have chosen a nut free version of these for the reason that my daughter could bring them with her to school without worrying about any nut allergy issues.
For special occasions, you could serve them at birthday parties dusted with dried strawberry or raspberry powder and nested in mini paper cases.
- 6 Tablespoons of unsweetened desiccated coconut
- 2 Tablespoons of milled Linseeds (also known as Flaxseeds)
- 4 Tablespoons of pumpkin seeds
- 2 tablespoons of raisins
- 8 Medjool dates
- 1 Tablespoon cacao powder, preferably raw
- 2 Tablespoons coconut oil
- Simply blend all of the ingredients together in a food processor (making sure that ALL the stones from the dates are removed- I speak from experience here! 🙂 until they form an even consistency.
- Transfer the mixture into a bowl, and work the mixture by hand until it resembles a thick cookie dough.
- Form into small walnut size balls, and roll in plenty of desiccated coconut, or coat with a different dusting of your choice.
- Powdered dried fruits (and vegetables!) work really well here. In the photo, in addition to the coconut I have used Raspberry and Carrot powders. The Carrot gives an incredibly vibrant colour and apart from giving some natural sweetness, it’s not at all overwhelming in a carroty taste. You can find it in most health food store and on Amazon.
- You can store your truffles in an air tight container in the fridge for 4 days, or freeze for a few weeks.
Spinach and Cheese Stars (makes 6 large stars or 12 small ones)
From my many experiments with Cheese related baking of biscuits, buns and scones, this recipe is by far my favourite!
It has a winning combination of a crumbly outside crust and a soft layered, almost croissant-like texture beneath.
They are also very mild in taste due to the touch of spinach and the yoghurt.
- 60 gr cold butter, cut into cubes
- 50 gr feta, crumbled
- 50 gr mild cheddar cheese, grated
- 120 gr plain flour
- 60 ml yoghurt
- 2 handfuls of fresh baby spinach, roughly chopped
- A pinch of salt
- Preheat your oven to 220 degrees C.
- Place all the ingredients in a large bowl and knead them by hand until they form a ball of dough.
- Cover with cling film and leave to cool in the fridge for 1 hour.
- When you are ready, roll out the dough on to a well-floured work surface and use a cookie cutter to shape small or large stars.
- (At this stage you can freeze the stars. If you wish to do so, move the stars onto a plate or small tray, with some baking paper underneath them. Cover the stars with cling-film. When you want to bake them, continue with the same instruction below).
- Place the stars on a baking sheet and bake at 220 degrees C for 10 minutes.
- Then, reduce the temperature to 200 degrees C and bake for a further 6-8 minutes until they are golden-brown.
Leave to cool on a rack for a few minutes and enjoy!
Maya Meron, Quince Organic