Healthy treats from @drchintalskitchen
In January, we're all suffering withdrawal due to the end of the festive period with its abundance of food and treats. Coupled with the dreary winter weather, we're more inclined to comfort eat at this time of the year. With the added pressure of lockdown and being at home with easy access to the larder, it's more tempting than ever to snack between meals. With this in mind, we asked Dr. Chintal for her tips on how to make tasty, yet healthy treats for your family.
Discover more healthy tips from our feature Your 5-a-day goodness or our Mexican Sweet Potato Boats recipe.
Chintal says ...
"My name is Dr Chintal Patel and I'm a NHS General Practitioner practising in London. As a mum and family doctor, I have an interest in nutrition and I write a family-friendly recipe blog @drchintalskitchen and www.drchintalskitchen.com sharing quick and easy recipe ideas for families. I also run cookery classes for adults and children ranging from weaning and healthy eating workshops to Indian cookery. I focus on fostering a healthy balanced approach to food from weaning and beyond, always aiming to increase variety and choice into my children’s diet.
What are healthy snacks?
Often, snacks get a bad name for being ‘unhealthy’, sugary or unnecessary. However, this is not the case, in fact, for young children; snacks are essential. Young children’s small stomachs mean they often get full quickly and therefore will need a snack to keep them going in-between meals. So it is more important to look at what we are snacking on.
The word ‘snack’ is on repeat in our house, especially during the holidays! Whilst I am all about balance and we definitely eat a varied diet, I love trying to make our snacks a little healthier, often by making simple sugar ‘swaps’ in recipes and adding extra nutrients along the way. There can be a lot of added sugar and hidden ingredients in shop-bought sweet snacks and I like to know exactly what we are eating. Therefore, I have shared some of our favourite snack ideas that hit the sweet spot but also pack in lots of nutrients at the same time.
The recipes below are designed to be made with your children if possible. Cooking with children is such a fantastic way of spending quality time together and learning about flavours and textures. For younger children, it’s also a great way of developing gross and fine motor skills. I hope you enjoy the recipes and if you do try any, please do feedback or send me a photo on Instagram.
- DATE & NUT ENERGY BALLS -
Packed full of nuts and seeds, these energy balls are a delicious way of enjoying a sweet chocolate fix with added nutrition. They are loaded with fibre, protein, healthy fats, vitamins and minerals. They are quick and easy to whip up and can be made in advance to last a couple of weeks. This makes them perfect for snacking on the go for adults and children.
Ingredients (makes approx 20 balls)
- 180g juicy Medjool dates
- 4 tablespoons cacao powder
- 4 heaped tablespoons cashew butter or peanut butter
- 300g nuts (I used pecans, cashew nuts, walnuts, and pistachios)
- 100g sunflower seeds
- Toppings of choice: e.g. chia seeds, desiccated coconut, sesame seeds, rose petals, pistachios
- First blitz all nuts and seeds in a food processor to make a powder
- Next, add all the rest of the ingredients to the food processor and pulse blend
- With each pulse, the ingredients will start to combine
- Keep pulsing until the mix starts to clump together
- Taking about 1 tablespoon of the mix at a time, use your hands to mold about 20 small balls and place on a plate
- They can be enjoyed as they are or rolled in your choice of topping
- To coat in your choice of topping, place your topping on a plate, and straight after forming your date ball, roll it in your choice of topping
- Enjoy right away or store in an airtight container in the fridge for a couple of weeks – if they last that long!
- APPLE DOUGHNUTS -
Doughnuts, but not quite as you may know them! We like to make our fruit snacks a bit more substantial and filling by adding protein and healthy fats in the way of nut butter and nut and seed sprinkles. Super easy to make and perfect for children to whip up themselves. You can also try this with bananas to make banana ‘sandwiches’, pears or any fruit of choice. Remember, no whole nuts for under 5’s as they can be a choking risk, always serve them ground, chopped or in the form of a nut butter.
Ingredients (makes 4-6 doughnuts)
- 2 apples – a sweet red apple works well
- Peanut butter (or any nut butter)
- Choice of sprinkles, e.g. crushed/powdered nuts (such as pistachios, walnuts, almonds), sesame seeds, linseed, berries, fruit jam
- Wash and slice the apple into roughly 1cm thick slices
- Cut a hole in the middle using an apple corer or a knife to remove the core
- Spread on your nut butter
- Sprinkle on nuts, seeds and berries of choice and serve right away!
- BANANA, OAT & BLUEBERRY MINI MUFFINS -
These delicious muffins use ripe bananas (the more brown spots the better) instead of refined sugar, and ground oats or almonds instead of flour. This means they are packed with lots of fibre, probiotics, healthy fats and protein. Not only will they keep you energised and full until your next meal they would make a delicious breakfast. I often bake a batch to take to the park on a picnic or for an afternoon playdate.
We like to make mini versions in cupcake cases making them a perfect portion size for little hands. However, you could always use full size muffin cases to make an adult portion, just remember to double the cooking time.
Ingredients (makes approx 18 mini muffins or 6 large muffins)
- 3 ripe bananas (approx.. 350gms)
- 3 large eggs
- 200g ground oats (or use 100gms each of ground oats and almonds)
- 100g blueberries (raspberries or other soft berries would work too)
- 80g butter – melted
- 1.5 tsp baking powder
- 1tsp ground cinnamon
- Flaked almonds or oats to sprinkle on top
- 18 cupcake cases or 6 large muffin cases
- Preheat the oven to 180 C (fan)
- Pop your cupcake cases ready in a cupcake baking tray
- Mash the bananas in a large bowl using a fork or for younger children, a potato masher works really well
- Crack your eggs into the bowl and mash again well until all incorporated
- Add the melted butter and stir well
- Add the oats, almonds, baking powder, and cinnamon, stir well to get a smooth batter
- Pour about 2 tablespoons of mix into each cake case, the mix should almost reach the top but not quite to allow it to rise
- Bake in the oven for 12-15 minutes
- Enjoy right away once cooled down or store in an airtight container for a few days
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