Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Happy Snacking!

Yesterday I read a New York Times article my husband forwarded to me that really said what I tried to say in my post A Cheese Curl is Not Just a Cheese Curl. It pointed out that just because something is labeled certified organic does not mean it is necessarily better for you. Sometimes the certified organic milk you purchase in good faith was ultra pasteurized in New Zealand. I’m fundamentally opposed to overheating my food, but beyond that consider the carbon footprint left by the effort of bringing this milk to you. But it’s organic, you cry. True, it’s technically organic, but it’s not organic in the true spirit of the organic movement.

The organic movement was born from a desire to do the right thing – for our bodies, for our land, for our animals, and for our world. It’s simplifying our lifestyle, knowing what goes in to the food we eat, and caring about future generations. My motives for going organic were purely selfish (to fix my son’s health), but I’ve grown to understand and be committed to all the other pieces of living an organic lifestyle. So it bothers me when it is assumed that an organic lifestyle is simply eating foods that are certified organic. As I pointed out in a previous post, a cheese curl may be certified organic, but that doesn’t make it good for you.

So don’t be blinded by the little green and white certified organic symbol. Healthy and locally grown means more. Feed your family whole foods and stay away from the processed foods as much as possible. Your kids don’t need to eat cheese curls and soda. Even if the cheese curls and soda are organic, they’re still bad for you. True, it’s a fact that my kids want them (I’m sure yours do to) so the challenge is to find foods that they like and have a certain “thrill” factor. A carrot stick does not have the thrill factor, but fresh raspberries and a few carob or grain-sweetened chocolate chips in vanilla yogurt does. My kids munch on popcorn most afternoons after school. They take it outside to share with the chickens and have great fun seeing what kinds of predicaments you can get a chicken in to when it is chasing popcorn. Recently we made homemade pretzels after school. We hadn’t done it in awhile (probably since one of the older ones was learning his letters and we practiced making his name). Baking soft pretzels takes no time at all. Here’s one simple recipe:

Miss Sally’s Pretzels (Miss Sally was Brady’s 2-year-old teacher – thanks Sally!)
11/2 C warm water
1 envelope (2 ¼ teaspoons) yeast
4 C flour (I used half organic unbleached white and half whole wheat)
1 t salt
1T sugar (I used succanat)
Coarse salt (coarse ground celtic sea salt)
1 egg

Mix warm water, yeast and sugar.
Set this mixture aside for five minutes. Pour salt and flour into bowl. Add yeast mixture to make dough. Roll dough in to shapes (this is the part your kids will have fun with).
Brush egg onto the shapes with pastry brush and sprinkle with coarse salt.

Bake at 425 for 12 minutes.

Other great snack ideas:
“Ants on a Log” celery sticks with peanut butter and raisins
Toast with honey and cinnamon
Pooh Sandwiches – whole grain crackers or graham crackers with peanut butter and honey
Power mix – cashews, sunflower seeds, raisins, grain-sweetened chocolate chips, and any other nut or unsweetened sugar mixed together
Pretzels dipped in mustard
Frozen blueberries (or grapes or cherries)
Dried apricots dipped in melted dark chocolate and sprinkled with pistachios
Fresh strawberries
Oranges already sliced up
(for some reason kids will gobble up oranges if you do the work for them, yet ignore the bag of them in the fridge)
Hardboiled eggs served in egg cup (remember those cute little egg cups that your grandmother used to have? You can still get them and for some reason they make eggs much more inviting especially if there is an assortment to choose from)
Pickle platter (put an assortment of pickles arranged artfully on a plate and surprise your kids – let them use toothpicks to eat them, even better)
Nachos (whole grain corn chips with raw milk cheddar cheese melted on top, add chopped tomatoes or olives if your kids go in for that sort of thing)

If you’ve got a great snack idea, please comment to this post with it – I need more ideas!
Also, if you’d like to check out the New York Times article mentioned above see The article is called Eating Food That’s Better For You – Organic or Not by Mark Bittman and can be found in the March 22 edition.

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