Five Creative Healthy Snacks to Bring to Your Next Playdate
by Monica K. Guthrie
Let’s just get one thing straight: I had no business trying to write an article about healthy snacks to bring to play dates. Here’s why. First of all, I work full time so I don’t have a lot of play-date opportunities (I’m working on that). Secondly, I’m not healthy. I mean, if you look at my Facebook and see the amount of time I spend in the gym and my talks about protein shakes, sure, you might get the impression that I try hard to be healthy. It’s an illusion (as most things on Facebook are). Here is my confession (and feel free to judge away) – I make a LOT of chicken nuggets for my kids.
My editors are thinking, “why did you volunteer to write about this if you have NO experience?” It’s because now I was forced to have to come up with new, healthy, additions to my very lacking cooking repertoire. So, after a few weeks of trial and error I have come up with five go-to healthy snacks that make my real-life healthy-mom image live up to my Facebook healthy-mom image.
You can either buy hummus at the grocery store, or you can make it yourself. There are a million recipes out there (just Google) and most require tahini, but I’m ridiculously lazy so I just blend garbanzo beans with whatever flavor I want, usually a little bit of garlic, some olive oil (to make it creamy) and some salt. It’s really more like a bean paste. Put that sucker on a tortilla (corn or flour, your preference), add some cheese, maybe some diced tomatoes or avocado, toss it on a frying pan (or microwave it for 40 seconds if you’re me) and you’re good. Well, you have to cut it into triangles says my two year old. Obviously. Or you can just keep the hummus as a dip, slice up some cucumbers spears and call it good. Extra points if you cut the cucumber into triangles says my 2-year old.
Roasted garbanzo beans
Staying on the garbanzo-bean train, my new favorite snack is roasted garbanzo beans (I’ve made it multiple times since I learned how. It’s addicting!).
Set the oven to 400°F degrees.
Line a baking pan with foil or parchment paper.
Open a can of garbanzo beans (wait, you thought I did that whole “soaking” thing with beans? No way. I do not have time for that) and rinse them.
Pat them dry(ish) with a paper towel and set them on the baking pan (single layer please).
Cover with oil (I use spray olive oil) and bake for 20 minutes.
Take them out, stir, put them back for another 10 minutes.
Once they are out, pour them in a bowl add seasoning and mix (if you season after they have baked, it works better – I swear). My little one enjoys something with a little kick (like his mom) so I use cayenne and a little sea salt to flavor, but you can use cumin, paprika, rosemary, thyme – whatever you enjoy. Sprinkle the seasoning on it and toss. Let them cool a little bit (eat them warm) and then munch away.
NOTE: You may want to make two or three cans of garbanzo beans so that after you’ve eaten the first one there are some for the children.
Mini Veggie muffins
This was much easier than I thought it would be and great for a Saturday morning play date (the only play dates I really get).
Preheat the oven to 350°F.
Chop (or grate or process) vegetables – I did spinach, cherry tomatoes, mushrooms.
Put in a bowl.
Add two or three eggs (depending on the size of your muffin pan – I used three and just made myself an omelet with the leftovers) and mix well.
Add a little bit of cheese.
Lightly coat a mini muffin pan with cooking spray (I use olive oil).
Pour egg/vegetable mix into the pan until they are 2/3 full.
Bake for 8-10 minutes.
Allow to cool and then munch away!
Apple peanut butter sandwiches
My little one is allergic to peanuts so we substitute Nutella – yum! This one is a little more time consuming and depending on the number of children might require a lot of apples (1 apple makes three “sandwiches.”
First you core and slice the apples into 6 rounds (if you don’t have an apple corer, you can slice the apple first and then take out the centers with a knife).
Spread peanut butter (or Nutella) on three of the apples.
If you want, you can make them fancy with raisins, cranberries, oats, bananas, etc.
Top with an apple slice.
*Squirt with watered-down lemon juice to keep them browning (water down to keep the lemon flavor down).
The last idea is the most simple and one you can do the night before. All you need is a few fruits and little plastic skewers (you can get a bunch from the dollar store). Simply wash a few fruits (we chose red grapes and sliced strawberry but you could do blueberries, orange slices, apple pieces, anything) and skewer away! This was a crowd favorite for the kids. They could just grab one, inhale the healthy goodness, and then run away (after they’ve safely swallowed, of course).
Now that I have snacks, my next step will have to be how to work on doing play dates as a working mom. Maybe I’ll tell my editors I’ll write about that next. (wink!)
Monica K. Guthrie is an Army brat, an Army veteran (Rock of the Marne!) and now an Army spouse with two boys. She is currently the media relations officer for the public affairs office at Fort Sill, Okla., and writes a weekly column called the Okie Bucket List. She also has a photography and graphic design business, Pro Deo Creations, that she maintains between potty training and kissing scraped knees.