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For this simple and healthy little snack I created a circular pineapple shape by squishing two pieces of fresh cut pineapple together and rough cutting them into a circle. My guess is that your children will be perfectly happy with or without  the quasi-perfect circle shapes. Where my kids have the most fun is making it themselves, the wonkier and goofier looking the better.

Fresh strawberry, fresh pineapple, and fresh kiwi, sliced 1/2-inch thick

Thread fruit onto bamboo skewer* or lollipop stick. Serve.

*Note: I’m guessing bamboo skewers should not be put in the hands of most children under the age of 3, possibly 4. I cut off the pointy tips after assembly. A safer option might be lollipop sticks; pre-punch holes in the food and let the younger ones assemble on their own.

Yield: variable
Prep-time: 5 minutes

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Roasted Tomatillo Salsa

[donotprint]I know. Your kid(s) would never eat this. What am I thinking? I almost didn’t even try this one because I wasn’t sure if I would enjoy it much less my little ones. But, my eldest is a brave little culinary soul. Her evaluation: “It’s good.”

According to Vegetables from Amaranth to Zucchini: The Essential Reference, the tomatillos are not green tomatoes. Rather they are a tart fruit that is formed within a “rustly-crisp parchment bladder. [/donotprint]

If you’re serving this salsa to grown-ups, you might want to add a small clove of garlic and a little bit of  jalapeno.

2 medium tomatillos
1 medium tomato
1 teaspoon fresh lime juice
1/4 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
Salt and pepper, to taste

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.

Remove the wrapper from the tomatillos and rinse well in warm water to remove waxy film. Place the tomato and the tomatillos in a baking dish and roast in the oven for 10-15 minutes to soften. Allow to cool completely.

If the skin on the tomato is easy to peel off, go ahead and do so. Chop the tomatillos and tomatoes. Drain off excess liquid a bit. Mix together with the lime juice, cilantro, salt, and pepper. Serve with tortilla chips.

Yield: a generous cup
Prep-time: 10 minutes
Bake-time: 10 minutes

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Blueberry Pizza

I think there’s an unwritten rule in most households that the kitchen is principally the realm of one person. It’s pretty much understood chez moi that the kitchen belongs to me. However, when it comes to pizza, the rules change. Once a week, my husband makes a mean pizza pie. So it was with some trepidation that I embarked upon a quest to create a sweet little pizza snack. But, with some over-the-phone counsel from the pie master, I managed to create something beautiful.

My husband makes his own dough and I was fortunate enough to lay my hands on some. For this recipe I recommend store-bought pizza dough unless you are already accustomed to making your own. My local Whole Foods has some nice whole wheat dough in the freezer case. Alternately, you could try asking your favorite pizza parlour if they would sell you some of their dough.

1 pound pizza dough (I used white, but whole wheat would be fine)
1 large egg, beaten
1/2 cup plain Greek-style yogurt
Heaping 1/4 cup cream cheese
1 tablespoon honey
1 teaspoon minced lemon zest
1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup blueberries (frozen or fresh)

Preheat the oven to 500 degrees Fahrenheit for at least 30 minutes.

The dough should be approaching room temperature.

We use a pizza stone in our oven and a cornmeal-dusted peel to transfer the pizza onto the stone. But, if you don’t have either, use a parchment-lined baking sheet. If you have some good dough on your hands, you should try tossing it. Otherwise, use a rolling pin to create 14 – 16 inch circle.

Mix together the egg, yogurt, cream cheese, honey, zest, lemon juice, and vanilla extract. Spread evenly over the tossed dough leaving the outer edge untouched in order to minimize run-off. Scatter the blueberries over the top.

Bake for 5-10 minutes or until crust is golden brown. Keep a close eye on it after five minutes. Transfer to a cooling rack. After a few minutes, slice and serve. Can be topped with cinnamon sugar, aged balsamic vinegar, or strawberry sauce (1 cup defrosted strawberries pureed with 1/2 teaspoon of sugar).

Yield: 8 slices
Prep-time: 30 minutes
Bake-time: 5-10 minutes

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Homemade Orange Julius

One sip of this homemade Orange Julius transported me back to The Valley Fair Mall circa 1986. I never thought about it much when I was 13 years old, but the secret to Orange Julius’ frothy goodness is egg whites. Not wanting to forage for powdered egg whites or fork over the money for Eggology, I figured out how to pasteurize them easily at home.* 

2 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon water
1 large egg white or  2 tablespoons pasteurized egg white product
3/4 cup water
1 cup orange juice
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups ice (about 10 cubes)
3 tablespoons frozen orange juice concentrate

Unless you’re using a pasteurized egg product, pasteurize your egg white in a double boiler over gentle heat. In a small bowl, whisk egg white along with the sugar and 1 teaspoon water. Place bowl over a small saucepan containing an inch or two of simmering water.

Whisk constantly until the mixture reaches 160 degrees Fahrenheit. Use an instant read thermometer to take the temperature. Keep the themometer in the egg mixture as much as possible and not touching the bowl. Once the thermometer reads 160, remove the bowl from heat and continue to whisk for another minute to be sure the egg doesn’t coagulate.

Pour egg white mixture into a blender along with the 3/4 cup water, orange juice, vanilla, ice cubes, and orange juice concentrate. Blend until smooth. Serve immediately.

Yield: 4 cups (or thereabouts)
Prep-time: 10 minutes

*While the odds of bumping into an egg contaminated with salmonella are slim, it’s not worth the risk. The last thing I want to do is pass on any bad information or techniques. My instructions for pasteurizing the egg white come from the FAQ section of the American Egg Board (What is an adequate temperature to cook an egg?) and from Pat Willard’s book A Soothing Broth. If you don’t feel comfortable with home-pasteurization for whatever reason, please go and buy a pasteurized egg white product.

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Avocado and Tomato Face

The cuteness came out of nowhere. I just wanted an unadulterated shot of avocado. But it turned into a healthy snack with some serious visual appeal. The kids ate it and enjoyed it, which was sort of big deal. Then I ate four more. Num!

The recipe below is approximate as everything depends on how thick you slice the bread, how big the bread is, how thick you slice the avocado, and so on. I’m not going to get into that level of detail. Eyeball it. I’m sure you’ll be fine.

10-12 slices of bread (preferably from a  french baguette)
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 ripe avocado (preferably Haas)
3 grape tomatoes, sliced
Fresh cilantro
One wedge of lime

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.

For the crostini: Prepare the bread by laying the slices out onto a baking sheet. Brush a bit of olive oil onto each slice with a pastry brush. Bake for 15 minutes or until edges are golden and bread is crisp. Remove from oven and allow to cool.

Gently wash a small handful of cilantro. Remove the stems and set the nicer looking leaves on a paper towel to air dry. Wash the tomatoes and slice them. Set aside. Slice the avocado just prior to assembly. If it the slices sit too long they may brown.

For assembly: Place an avocado slice on the lower half of a crostini. Place two or three of the cilantro leaves on the top half. Set two tomato slices on top of the cilantro for the eyes. Squeeze a few drops lime juice over the top of the avocado and tomato. Serve immediately.

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Cucumber Sandwiches

I haven’t actually tasted one of these. My kids will not share! Selfish little monkeys! But I guess that is that best indicator of all that they are a kid-friendly snack. We’ve got a thing for cucumbers dosed in vinegar at our house though. I imagine it’s not a such a thrill for most families. Still, you never know…

The recipe is adapted from one I found in The New York Times Cookbook. I think proper finger sandwiches are supposed to be wrapped in plastic wrap and refrigerated for a while, but I opted not to.

1/4 – 1/3 of a medium cucumber (preferably European Greenhouse), peeled and sliced
White vinegar
Salt and Pepper
4 slices of whole grain bread
Butter for spreading

Place the cucumbers in a small bowl, pour over enough white vinegar so that they are well coated. A bit of extra vinegar at the bottom of the bowl is fine. Sprinkle on a little bit of salt and pepper to taste and stir to coat. Allow the cucumbers to sit for five or ten minutes.

Prepare the bread slices by spreading on a thin layer of butter to coat one side of each slice. Shake any excess vinegar off of the cucumber slices and arrange them on two of the bread slices, overlapping slightly or in two layers. Top with another slice of bread. Cut off the crusts. Cut into quarters, preferably triangles, and serve.

Yield: 8 finger sandwiches 
Prep-time: 5 – 10 minutes

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Purple Monster Smoothie

[donotprint]Turns out you can have a delicious smoothie and sneak some tofu into your diet. I started experimenting with this because tofu contains a bit of Iron, and Vitamin C boosts the absorption of said Iron. So this seems like an easy way to get a little extra Iron into our low-meat diet. Miraculously, my kids loved it.[/donotprint]

 

1/2 cup silken tofu
1 medium ripe banana
1/2 cup frozen strawberries
1/2 cup frozen blueberries
2 tablespoons pure maple syrup

Put the tofu, banana, strawberries, blueberries, and maple syrup in a blender and puree until smooth. Serve.

Yield: 2 cups
Prep-time: 10 minutes

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Raisin Muffins (a.k.a Salad Muffins)

This snack is inspired by the Salad Bars recipe in Julie Van Rosendaal’s cookbook Grazing. If you’re feeling extra fancy, top them with some vanilla greek-style yogurt!

1 cup white whole wheat flour or all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
3 tablespoons butter, melted and cooled
3/4 cup brown sugar, lightly packed
1 large egg, beaten
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 tablespoon ketchup or tomato paste
1 cup grated zucchini
1/2 cup grated carrot
1/2 cup raisins

Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Grease a mini muffin pan and set aside.

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

In a large mixing bowl, stir together the butter, sugar, egg, vanilla, and ketchup. Pour the flour mixture into the bowl and stir to combine. Add the zucchini, carrot and raisins and stir until evenly distributed.

Transfer batter to mini muffin pan, filling each cup approximately 3/4 full. Bake on the center rack of the oven for 15-20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center of a muffin comes out clean.

Yield: 24 mini muffins
Prep-time: 20 minutes
Bake-time: 15 minutes

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Lemon Yogurt with Raspberries

[donotprint]A few days ago we went to the orchard and there were still raspberries waiting to be picked in the raspberry patch. They are terribly fragile and have a shelf life of about 10 minutes. But we nonetheless managed to turn them into a quick and delightful little snack.[/donotprint]

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1 cup plain greek-style yogurt
1/2 teaspoon fresh squeezed lemon juice (to taste)
1 tablespoon sugar
1/3 cup granola (preferably something with almonds)
1 pint raspberries

Gently rinse raspberries and allow them to air dry.

In a small bowl, mix together the yogurt, lemon juice, lemon zest, and sugar. Divide the yogurt between three small bowls (1/3 cup each). Top yogurt with 1 – 2 tablespoons granola and then with a generous handful of raspberries. Serve.

Yield: 3 servings
Prep time: 10 minutes

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