If your little ones are constantly nagging for a snack (we know ours are!) and you’re keen to get them into the kitchen to learn some cooking skills, we’re here to help! We turned to mama-of-two, cookbook author and resident foodie, Ghillie James to get her best advice for making snack time healthy, as well as a few of her fave recipes that the kids can help make too. Banish those hungry tummies mama and get the kids cooking now!
Ghillie’s tips for making snack time healthy
- It’s not always easy but where you can try to make your own snacks — you’ll know exactly what your children’s food contains, plus the majority of traybakes, biscuits and cakes can be frozen so you can make it an afternoon activity to stock up the freezer.
- Add chopped nuts, oats and raisins to cookies instead of chocolate chips and other sweets.
- Reduce the sugar in recipes by using honey (preferably manuka), agave nectar or apple puree instead.
- For flapjacks, add in a grated apple, dried cranberries or raisins to the mixture, to add some extra nutrition and slip some extra fruit in!
- Use light cream cheese and icing sugar for a healthier topping for cakes and muffins.
- Add sunflower seeds, linseeds and crushed chia seeds to muffins, cookies and traybakes for extra nutrition.
- Make savoury snacks such as marmite cheese straws, cheese and spinach muffins, baked pitta crisps or mini tartlets to add to lunch boxes instead of always handing out sweet snacks.
- Vegetable sticks and a healthy dip such as hummus, guacamole, or minty yogurt and grated cucumber are always popular with little ones for an after school snack.
- Make your own baked pizzas using wraps or pitta bread topped with passata and cheese and let the children choose their toppings – a great activity for a playdate and it’s healthy too!
Berry Shortbread Bars
150g unsalted butter, softened
50g soft light brown sugar
75g golden caster sugar
1 tsp good quality vanilla extract
a good pinch of salt
200g plain flour
125g raspberries, fresh or defrosted from frozen
4tbs berry jam
50g flaked almonds
icing sugar, for dusting
Grease a 21 x 25cm traybake tin, preferably with a loose base. Preheat the oven to 180C.
Put the soft butter, sugars, vanilla and salt into a bowl and beat using an electric whisk or wooden spoon. Add the semolina and flour and whisk at a low speed until combined. Bring together using your hands, and then roll two thirds of the mixture out on a floured surface and press into the base of the tin. Put the remaining mixture into the fridge.
Bake for 20-25 minutes or until it is just beginning to turn light brown. Remove the tin from the oven. Mix together the raspberries and jam, squashing the fruit a little, then spread the mixture over the partially baked crust. Crumble the refrigerated shortbread dough over the jam to form a crumbled topping, then scatter with the almonds.
Return the tin to the oven and continue baking for 30 minutes or until golden. Remove from the oven and, when semi-cooled, carefully transfer to a wire rack and let cool completely. Cut into bars, then dust with icing sugar.
Makes approximately 16 bars.
Chocolate-dipped Anzac Biscuits
125g unsalted butter
2tbs golden syrup
150g plain flour
100g quick-cook oats
50g desiccated coconut
2 heaped tbs flaked or slivered almonds (optional)
1 1/2 tbs chia seeds (optional)
100g soft light brown sugar
1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
150g dark chocolate (for dipping)
Preheat the oven to 160C. Line two baking trays with greaseproof paper.
Put the butter and golden syrup into a saucepan and gently melt. Meanwhile, combine the flour, oats, coconut, almonds and chia seed, if using, in a bowl. Stir the brown sugar into the butter, turn off the heat and add 2 tablespoons of water and the bicarbonate of soda. Make a well in the flour mixture and pour in the melted butter mixture, then stir to combine.
Take small tablespoon-sized amounts and roll into 26 balls. Space them 6cm apart on the tray and then press down lightly about two-thirds with a fork to semi-flatten. Bake for 15-20 minutes or until brown. Remove from the oven, leave for 5 minutes, then transfer to a rack to cool.
Melt the chocolate in a bowl over barely simmering water, then dip the biscuits halfway into the chocolate and place them carefully on a baking tray lined with baking paper. Leave to dry in the fridge or somewhere cold.
Ghillie James spent her school holidays helping her mother in the kitchen as she cooked for their bustling local pub in Kent, England. Ghillie was food editor of Sainsbury’s Magazine for five years, has done freelance writing for various magazines including Delicious, and is now the food editor of the new Tesco Magazine. She lives in Singapore with her husband and two children, William, 6 and Jemima, 4.