By FLIP SHELTON
Snacks need to be a cinch to whip up quickly and easily with every-day ingredients. They also need to be delicious. And so, together with Michael Carr-Gregg, we wrote Smart Snacks to give parents some ripping snack ideas that fill kids with wholesome ingredients to nourish their minds and bodies.
Winter school holidays are nearly upon us and this is the perfect time to get the kids into the kitchen. Not only is cooking a fun activity for kids of all ages, but it’s a crucial life skill. The best tip I can give is make double batches of these five Smart Snacks and pop them in the freezer ready for lunchboxes next term – if they last that long.
Sweet Potato Brownies
- Who doesn’t love a brownie? Traditional recipes rely on butter, sugar, refined white flour and cocoa while more recent recipes use avocado, black beans, cauliflower or zucchini. My brownie (pictured top) is made with sweet potato which has a wonderfully sweet taste and terrific texture. This brownie freezes very well so make a double batch for Ron. That’s Later.
2 cups grated sweet potato (approx. 1-2 sweet potatoes)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
pinch sea salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
½ cup cacao
½ cup coconut oil
¼ cup maple syrup or honey
3 tablespoons banana or coconut flour (or 4 tablespoons regular flour)
1 teaspoon baking soda
- For the ganache (optional)
¼ cup cacao powder
¼ cup coconut oil, melted
1 tablespoon maple syrup – optional
1 tablespoon cacao nibs – optional extra
1 tablespoon shredded coconut – optional extra
1 tablespoon goji berries – optional extra
Preheat oven to 180C. Line a baking tray (approx. 17 x 27 cm) with baking paper.
In a large mixing bowl, combine all ingredients and stir until well mixed. Transfer to baking tray. Cook for 30 mins on 180C, then cover and cook for another 10 minutes.
Allow to cool a bit before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.To make ganache, combine all ingredients in a small bowl and drizzle over brownie. Place brownie slab on a sheet of baking paper on a baking tray or plate or in a container. Drizzle ganache over brownie, put in fridge for 20 minutes to firm.Cut into pieces and serve.
- These balls have squishy caramel dates, walnuts (which are shaped like the brain and are good for the brain), naturally sweet shredded coconut and cacao (pronounced ka-cow). There is no greater incentive than a delicious edible reward and my nine-year old son makes a batch of these each week so he knows he has these for afternoon tea. This recipe makes 15-20 balls.
2 cups walnuts
2 cups pitted Medjool dates (about 15)
1/4 cup shredded coconut
2-4 tablespoons cacao (for a very rich chocolate taste, use 1/4 cup)
1 tablespoon chia seeds
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon chilli – optional
pinch of sea salt – optional
Place all ingredients in a blender and blend for 30 seconds – 1 minute until crumbly. Blend longer for a smoother consistency. Transfer mixture to a bowl for safety and ease of working.
Using fingers, grab some mixture, and roll into a bite-sized balls. Chill for an hour – if you can resist. These store well in the fridge for a several days.
- Fruitcicles are super soothing snacks. I love these for so many reasons. Easy to make, easer to eat and un-stuff-up-able. There are loads of cool (get it!) icy pole moulds these days from cheap to deluxe, and from steel to silicon. The liquid component ranges from coconut water, to coconut milk, blended watermelon or pureed fruit or avocado, while different coloured and shaped fruits can be slipped in for a huge varieties of taste sensations. It’s an easy way to slip in some extra fruit or veg into your kids’ day. Get the kids involved. They will have great pride in the result and research shows they’ll be more likely to eat them.
Blueberries and raspberries (fresh or frozen)
Kiwi fruit – peeled and sliced thinly
Strawberries – sliced thinly
Mango – sliced into thin strips
Pour coconut water into icy-pole moulds to 2/3 full. Add your favourite fruit to each mould. Freeze for 8 hours or overnight.
Green Pea Dip
- This dip is a life saver and will get you out of any hunger haze, because a packet of frozen peas can be found in most household freezers and this can be made in minutes. As well as calming a headache or soothing a sprained ankle, frozen peas make a delicious and nutritious dip and are irresistible with veggie batons like cucumber, carrot, red pepper and celery. Get your kids into the kitchen and cooking because today’s dip is tomorrow’s three course dinner.
2 cups peas (frozen is fine)
1 cup mint leaves
¼ cup pine nuts (or blanched almonds)
lemon juice and lemon zest
salt and pepper, to taste
1-2 tablespoons olive oil or coconut oil
Place peas in a saucepan and just cover with boiling water. Cook peas over medium high heat for 3 minutes or until just tender. You don’t want them super mooshy. Drain peas and transfer to a food processor. Add remaining ingredients and blend for a minute or until smooth-ish. I like it to be a little chunky. If you want a smoother consistency, add a little more oil or water.
- All you need are two ingredients – cashews and dates, in equal quantities. Blend in a food processor for a minute and roll. On a serious note, the rolling action has an incredibly cathartic effect on mind and body. So, if you, or your kids, have had a cray-cray day, roll your worries away.
Smart Snacks by Flip Shelton & Michael Carr-Gregg, published by Penguin Random House Australia on 5 February 2019, RRP $24.99