Almond Butter Balls

When all else fails, I usually have some almond butter balls in my freezer. These are a little tricky to form into balls. But that’s because they have a fraction of the honey most recipes for peanut butter balls call for and they have glorious crispy rice cereal which makes them crunchy!

Feel free to replace the almond butter with cashew or peanut. I used natural-style almond butter. But this recipe is extremely flexible so feel free to experiment.

3/4 cup powdered milk
1/2 cup crispy brown rice cereal
2 tablespoons wheat germ
2 tablespoons ground flaxseed (optional)
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup unsalted almond butter
1/4 cup honey
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

In a small mixing bowl, stir the powdered milk, cereal, wheat germ, flaxseed, and salt until combined. Set aside.

In a medium mixing bowl, stir the almond butter, honey, and vanilla extract with a rubber spatula until combined. Add the powdered milk mixture and stir until uniform.

The mixture may be on the crumbly side. To form into balls, take a tablespoon of the mixture and squeeze it with your hands more than roll it. I pass it back and forth between my hands squeezing and rolling gently with my fingers as I pass. This might be tough for kids to master. If the mixture is too crumbly, add more of something gooey such as honey or even a tablespoon of vegetable, coconut, or flax oil.

Serve or store in the freezer for up to 3 months. Allow to thaw for a couple minutes before serving.

Yield: 30 balls
Prep-time: 20 minutes
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Mud Dip

My oldest, who will pretty much eat anything, does not like nut butter of any kind (at the moment). It’s bizarre, but I let it slide since she is an open-minded eater (and, honestly, what choice do I have?). In this recipe, chocolate saves the day and makes the nut butter palatable.

I made some chocolate sauce based on a recipe from The Fannie Farmer Cookbook awhile ago. I intended to buy some, but the ingredient lists at the store were a little too frightening. Chocolate syrup would work just as well and there are a couple brands with short and understandable ingredient lists at the health food store and Trader Joe’s.

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1/3 cup unsalted nut butter (such as almond or peanut)
3 tablespoons chocolate sauce or chocolate syrup
Small pinch salt
Sliced apples for dipping

In a small mixing bowl, stir the nut butter, chocolate sauce, and salt together until the color is uniform. Serve with apples.

Yield: scant 1/2 cup
Prep time: 5 minutes

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Herbed Yogurt Dip

[donotprint]I’m on a bit of a back-to-basics kick lately. I hope I’m not putting my dear readers to sleep. Believe me, I’ve been experimenting with crazy “innovative” snacks. But they’ve all been bombs. Sometimes I need to whip up something more predictable so my kids will not mount a rebellion. [/donotprint]

 

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Graham Crackers

These graham crackers taste more like pie crust than store-bought graham crackers (and given the amount of butter in them, I’m not a bit surprised). This is adapted from the Graham Crackers recipe in Martha Stewart’s Baking Handbook I’ve looked around for alternatives to try, some of which look amazingly delicious. But Martha’s recipe has less sugar (which I’ve reduced further) and did well with a couple adjustments I made to cut back on time and effort expended.

I found graham flour from Hodgson Mill at my neighborhood grocery store, but it was desceptively labeled as whole wheat flour. Regardless, graham flour appears to be more coarsely ground than regular whole wheat flour. It reminds me a lot of King Arthur’s spelt flour. It does add a noticable texture and taste to the finished cracker, but it is certainly not required. I’ve used whole wheat pastry flour and the world didn’t come crashing down. In fact, they were yummy.

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups whole wheat pastry flour or graham flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup unsalted butter (2 sticks), softened
1/2 cup brown sugar, packed
2 tablespoons honey

Preheat oven to 350 F.

In a medium bowl whisk together the flours, baking soda, cinnamon and salt. Set aside.

The butter should be soft but not runny. In a large bowl beat butter until creamy. Add sugar and honey and beat well. Pour flour mixture into the large bowl and mix with a rubber spatula until the color is uniform and the dough easily forms into a ball.

Divide the dough into 4 equal-sized balls. Put each ball in-between parchment or wax paper and roll it out with a rolling pin until it is 1/8-inch thick. (If the dough is too sticky, your room temperature may be too high. Wrap up the dough and put it in the fridge for 30-60 minutes.) Cut the dough into 1 1/2-inch squares. Use a spatula to transfer the squares onto a parchment lined baking sheet about 1/4-inch or more apart. Pierce each square once with a fork.

Bake the crackers for 5-8 minutes, rotating once, or until the edges are golden.

Yield: approximately 96 crackers
Prep time: 30 minutes
Bake time: 5 minutes

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Crispy Clouds

[donotprint]These are otherwise known as Pavlovas. But I can barely say ‘pavlova’, much less my kids. Good tongue twister, bad name for a kid snack.  My kids came up with name while stuffing their faces. There were no leftovers.

Crispy Clouds have a delightful mouthfeel. They remind me of eating a roasted marshmallow, but take away the heat and sugar overload.[/donotprint]

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3 large egg whites
1 tablespoon agave nectar or sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
Pinch salt

3/4 cup whipped cream (give or take)
1 cup fresh raspberries (give or take)

Preheat oven to 200 F.

Place the egg whites, agave, vanilla, and salt in the bowl of an electric mixer. With the whisk attachment, whip the egg white mixture on medium high speed until peaks form. Turn off mixer and detach bowl. Transfer large spoonfuls onto parchment-lined baking sheet. Place the scoops at least an inch apart. Make a well in the center of each scoop with the back of the spoon. They should be approximately 4-inches wide once the wells are created.

Bake on the center rack of the oven for approximately 1 hour and 30 minutes or until the clouds are stiff and willing to detach from the parchment paper.

Allow the clouds to cool for 1-2 minutes on the baking sheet. Gently remove from parchment paper and transfer to serving plate. Garnish each cloud with approximately 1 tablespoon whipped cream and a heaping tablespoon of berries. Serve.

Makes 12 clouds
Prep time: 10 minutes
Bake time: 1 1/2 hours

Note: Raspberries can be replaced by any soft fresh fruit.

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Apple Crisp “Cookies”

[donotprint]I need to make these again sometime soon because I might have eaten most of them myself and my kids might not have really gotten a chance to taste them. Poor little souls.

The key with these, unless you enjoy running the oven all day, is to create a uniform and consistant thickness as best you can. One little fat blob of apple can take up to an extra hour to dry out. Either that or you’ll be forced to eat it immediately because it won’t keep well if it’s not totally dried out.[/donotprint]

4 apples, coarsely grated (approximately 1 1/2 cup lightly packed)
2 tablespoons brown sugar (optional, especially if you have some sweet apples to work with)
2 tablespoons wheat germ
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
Pinch salt

Preheat oven to 250 F.

In a medium bowl mix together the apple, brown sugar, wheat germ, butter, cinnamon, and salt. Place heaping tablespoon-sized scoops of the apple mixture onto parchment lined baking sheets. Make sure the scoops are 2- inches apart. With the back of a spoon, flatten the scoops until they are 1/4-inch (or less) thick. Pay careful attention to achieving a uniform thickness as the cookies will require more time in the oven if they are too thick.

Bake for 1 1/2 – 2 hours or until the cookies are dry yet pliable. Allow to cool before serving. Once cool, the cookies should crisp up considerably. Store in an airtight container.

Makes 20 cookies
Prep time: 10 minutes
Baking time: 1 1/2 hours

Note: These “cookies” will cook differently depending how thinly they are spread out on the baking sheets. So after an hour and a half, check in on them every ten minutes or so. They may brown a bit and that’s fine. They dry quite a bit after they cool down so if they’ve been in the oven for two hours and no longer feel squishy, they are most likely done.

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Raspberry Rockets (a.k.a White-chocolate Filled Raspberries)

[donotprint]Surely I’m not the first person to have done this. But if you’ve heard of it before, don’t tell me. I’m busy being overly happy about my discovery. Oh, and the kids looovve these.[/donotprint]

 

20 raspberries
20 white chocolate chips

Wash the raspberries by holding them under gently running water or submerging in a bowl of water and agitating gently. Allow the raspberries to air-dry by simply putting them on a towel. Once dry, insert one chip into each berry with flat side of the chip facing you. Serve.

Makes 2 servings.
Prep time: 5 minutes

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Blueberry Cinnamon Yogurt

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1 cup plain greek-style yogurt
1 teaspoon lemon zest, chopped fine
2 teaspoons fresh squeezed lemon juice (approximately 1/2 of a lemon)
1/4 cup pure maple syrup
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
Pinch salt
1 cup fresh blueberries

In a small bowl, mix yogurt, zest, lemon juice, maple syrup, cinnamon and salt. Fold in blueberries. Divide between 4 ramekins or small bowls and top with a few additional blueberries. Serve.

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Blueberry “Pie”

[donotprint]Pie is always a lovely idea, but I never seem to find the energy (or bravery) to make one, especially just for a snack! So instead, I’ve done my best to create an extremely quick and  healthy alternative.  I love this crust so much that I created a cookie recipe based that is very similiar.[/donotprint]

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Crust:
1/3 cup walnut pieces
1/3 cup pecan halves
1/3 cup old fashioned oats
1/4 cup whole wheat pastry flour
3 tablespoons brown sugar (not packed)
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup unsalted butter (1/2 stick), cold

Topping:
1 1/2 pints fresh blueberries (approximately 3 cups)
1 1/2 tablespoons fresh squeezed lemon juice
3 tablespoons maple syrup
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
whipped cream (optional)

Preheat oven to 400 F.

For the crusts, put the walnuts, pecans, oats, flour, brown sugar, and salt in the bowl of a food processor and pulse for a 5-10 seconds until the texture is crumb-like. Chop the cold butter into large chunks and add to the food processor bowl. Cut the butter into the nut mixture pulsing for 5-10 seconds until the butter is incorporated and the mixture resembles large rough crumbs. Do not over process. The occasional larger chunk of butter is not a problem.

Divide a heaping 1/4 cup of the crust mixture between 8 ramekins. Press the crust down into the ramekins and up the sides with your fingers starting from the center. Rest assured, any holes or imperfections will be taken care of during baking or covered by the berries.

Bake crusts on the center rack for 10-15 minutes or until edges start to turn brown. Allow the ramekins to cool before serving.

While the crusts are baking, put blueberries, lemon juice, maple syrup and cinnamon in a bowl. With a fork, mash the berries partially so they begin to release their juices.

Once the ramekins are cool, top each crust with a scant 1/3 cup of the mashed blueberries and finish with a dollop of whipped cream if desired. Serve immediately.

Makes 8 “pies”.
Prep time: 20 minutes
Bake time: 10-15 minutes

Note: Can be made ahead of time. Store the crust and berries seperately in the refrigerator. If possible, remove from refrigerator and bring to room temperature before serving.

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Banana Dogs

[donotprint]I had not heard of banana dogs until recently. My kids love them. We actually eat them as a part of breakfast more often than as a snack. [/donotprint]This recipe works just fine with bananas that are ripe or nearing over-ripe. I’d try something else if your banana has more black than yellow on its peel as the banana does need to hold its shape.

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2 whole grain hot dog buns
1 ripe banana
2 tablespoons strawberry jam or organic chocolate syrup

Cut banana in half lengthwise. Put each banana half in a bun and top with 1 tablespoon jam or syrup. Serve. Makes 2.

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