After a hard morning of class and recess kids look forward to a delicious, wholesome lunch (well maybe they don’t care about the wholesome part). What could be better or healthier than some homemade treats? Here are some of my favorite homemade treats for the kiddos. As a bonus, you might have fun with your kids preparing some of these in advance.
The great thing about trail mix is that you can easily substitute ingredients you don’t like with ones that you do like. Furthermore, you can either choose to roast your nuts and seeds or for an insanely healthy alternative, leave everything raw – raw foods are chock full of nutrients that your body needs for basic health and functioning. Raw foods increase your energy and aid in the detoxification of the body. Once you get used to it, you will find yourself preferring raw nuts and seeds to roasted or salted varieties. Your body will thank you, trust me.
• 2 cups California walnut halves
• 1 cup unsalted pumpkin seeds
• 1 cup dried cranberries
• 1 cup chopped, dried apricots
• 1 cup banana chips
• 1/2 cup goji or acai berries
• Throw in some flax seeds for good measure; or maybe some sunflower seeds if you have trouble finding flaz.
• 1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips or white chocolate chips (or both)
• 1 cup peanut butter chips
• Large, rimmed baking sheet, ungreased (preferably non-stick and seasoned)
• Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
• Arrange walnuts in a single layer on a large rimmed baking sheet. Bake in the center of oven until fragrant and toasted, about eight to ten minutes.
• Set aside and let cool.
• In a large container (like a really large mixing or salad bowl), combine toasted walnuts with pumpkin seeds, dried cranberries, apricots, banana chips, acai berries and flax or sunflower seeds.
• Once you are sure that this mixture has absolutely no heat left in it, you can add the chocolate chips and peanut butter chips. Mix everything adequately.
• Store in an airtight container for up to seven days.
Suggested Activity Afterwards: Hit the dusty road, get on a trail and check out beautiful autumnal nature all while hiking! Check the internet for easily accessible trails by you. At a pretty brisk pace on a basic or intermediate trail, you can get about three miles done in an hour, so not only is it a great way to get everyone’s imagination going while hiking in the woods, but it’s a great way to thoroughly yet conveniently exercise and feel excellent in the process. For extra mental stimulation, pick up a field guide for your local flora and fauna at your nearest library. You can try to identify organisms on the trail or just talk about the ones that excite you and your kids the most, like certain beautiful trees, birds or lichens. Take a break at a scenic spot and enjoy some of the delicious trail mix that you made together.
• Depending how many sandwiches you plan on making, it’s probably best to use about one apple per adult and one apple per every two children, depending on their size
• An apple corer
• A jar of peanut butter
• Core all of your apples
• Slice them into half inch slices, like medallions with holes in the middle (from where you cored the apples)
• Slather both halves with your favorite peanut butter (and/or Nutella if you are feeling extra frisky); remember, a sandwich is like an algebraic equation – what you do to one side, you must do to the other, most of the time
• Put the two halves together and go to town!
Suggested Activity Afterwards: Rake leaves in the yard into giant piles and jump around! I am thirty years old and still do this every single time I come into contact with a pile of leaves larger than myself. It still makes me laugh uncontrollably.
• Depending how many people, you will need anywhere from a quarter pound and up of your favorite deli meats and cheeses, sliced nice and thin
• A package of your favorite crackers, like Ritz ® brand or Ancient Grains ® for a healthier alternative
• Veggie slices, like carrots and celery
• A package of your favorite cookies
• A juice box of your favorite juice for each person, or a nice pitcher of water with lemon and lime rounds, or maybe even just some nice warm cider since it’s fall time
• Make a plate for everyone and arrange your desired amount of crackers on each plate. I would suggest stacking about four or five crackers on top of each other.
• Now, do the same for each of your selected meats. Cut the meats into pieces that are sufficiently sized for the crackers you are utilizing. It’s probably best to cut the meats into quarters. Who cares if the slices are a little larger? You can just fold them while making your Lunchables if need be. Stack the meats in separate piles on each person’s plate.
• Repeat this process for the cheeses you selected. Again, it’s OK if the slices are larger or smaller than the cracker itself, but just try to aim for a ballpark size and shape. Stack the cheeses in separate piles on each person’s plate.
• Put a handful of veggie slices on each person’s plate.
• Place a small bunch of grapes on each person’s plate.
• Put one or two cookies (or more, depending on how good everyone’s been) in a little stack on everyone’s plates.
Suggested Activity Afterwards: Collect some nice, big, beautiful leaves, white printer paper and some crayons. Take the wrappers off of the crayons so that the wax sides are exposed. Place a sheet of paper over a leaf and use the exposed crayon’s side to briskly rub over the top of the paper. Watch what happens! Hang up the beautiful autumnal decorations on your fridge.
• Granola is super easy and super healthy to make. You can make this in large batches and shelf it for about two weeks at a time. Its great for something healthy and delicious to eat on the go.
• 3 cups rolled oats (not instant)
• 3 tablespoons packed light brown sugar
• 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
• 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
• 1/3 cup honey
• 1/4 cup vegetable oil
• 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
• 1/2 cup small-dice dried fruit
• 1/2 cup coarsely chopped raw or toasted nuts or seeds
• Rimmed, seasoned (meaning well used and worn in; sometimes seasoned pots and pans are freckled with dark spots which show their use over time) baking sheet (ungreased; preferably non-stick)
• Arrange the rack in the middle of the oven prior to preheating the oven to 300° F.
• Place the oats, brown sugar, cinnamon, and salt in a large bowl and stir to combine; set aside. This is a great step to have the kids help with that has low risk of making a mess.
• Place the honey, oil, and vanilla in a small bowl and stir to combine. Pour over the oat mixture and mix until the oats are thoroughly coated.
• Spread the mixture in a thin, even layer on a rimmed baking sheet. Bake for fifteen minutes, then stir and continue baking until the granola is a very light golden brown, about five to fifteen minutes more. This recipe doesn’t call for the baking sheet to be greased, but I would suggest using a seasoned, non-stick baking sheet to maintain the integrity and aesthetic of the granola clusters. New baking sheets have a tendency to conduct heat too rapidly and inconsistently, so you run a risk of burning the granola clusters past a point of “golden brown”.
• Place the baking sheet on a wire rack (or simply to the side on a trivet if you don’t have a wire rack for cooling things when you bake; I personally don’t) and cool the granola to room temperature, stirring occasionally. The whole process should take about twenty minutes. (Note: It will harden as it cools.)
• Add the fruit and nuts or seeds to the baking sheet and toss to combine.
• You can store the granola in an airtight container for up to two weeks.
Suggested Activity Afterwards: Head to the library and take out some seasonal, age appropriate books. (Suggested titles: for the super small fries in your life, What Was I Scared Of? by Dr. Seuss; for kids around age 8 and up, The Halloween Tree by Ray Bradbury; and if you have older kids to think about, try any of R.L. Stine’s books – they were always super scary for me growing up!)