Originally published in her weekly column in Bradford and Newmarket Today, licensed nutritionist Nonie De Long answers a parent’s call for healthy recipes for kids who are stuck at home during COVID 19...
Continuing from last week’s question:
Dear Aunt Nonie,
As you know, I’m a high school teacher and am usually working outside the home during the day. I also happen to be a father of two toddlers and an infant whom I usually love to spend time with. Right now my wife (healthcare worker) needs to be on the frontlines more than usual so our roles have reversed quite a bit and I find myself taking care of the three kids and the three dogs and the house and an ailing mother and an ailing grandfather all day everyday. All. Day. Every. Day. … Have you got healthy recipes for me that don’t require ridiculous ingredients nobody has heard of, never mind has on hand, that are easy enough for toddlers and will engage the kids for a while yet pass their is-this-that-crappy-health-food-stuff-you-try-to-make-us-eat detectors? And failing all that, have you got an extra room where I can hide?
Love you, Your favourite nephew, Cody
Dear Favourite Nephew, Cody,
As promised last week, I have put together some not-too-complicated kid friendly, healthy recipes to occupy little ones who are shut in. You can let me know if they pass their crappy-health-food-stuff detectors.
I know I’m beating a dead horse when I say to all my readers you don’t want to be giving kids sugar right now. They are locked inside most of the day, without adequate social stimulation and play as an outlet for all that energy, and it will only fuel meltdowns. Save the sugar for when they return to school to initiate teachers back. (You’re welcome, darling nephew.) Or when they go to your mother in law’s when all this is over. But for now, best to ixnay ethay ugarshay.
As such, these recipes focus on the macros that help reduce sugar cravings and stabilize mood and energy: protein and healthy fat. Some call for raw honey, but raw honey should not be used for anyone under the age of 1. For these little ones, skip the honey dishes. These recipes are ideal for toddlers to teens, and of course the kid in all of us!
No Bake Donut Holes
2 cups shredded coconut, unsweetened (medium)
½ cup all natural almond, cashew, or peanut butter
¼ cup organic coconut oil, solid
⅛ cup raw honey or ⅛ cup monkfruit sweetener
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
1/4 tsp Himalayan sea salt
¼ -½ cup powdered monkfruit sweetener or Whole Earth sweetener
3 tBsp powdered cinnamon
Add the coconut, coconut oil, nut butter, sweetener, salt, and vanilla to a food processor and pulse a few times to mix ingredients until a sticky “dough” is formed.
Place the food processor in the fridge for 10 minutes to firm up the mixture.
Place a piece of parchment paper on a baking sheet. Use a tablespoon to scoop out the mixture and let the kids roll them into evenly sized balls. (Don’t handle too much or they get too soft.) Place them on the parchment.
When done, thoroughly mix your cinnamon and powdered sweetener in a bowl and have the kids roll the balls in the mixture, then return to the parchment. Refrigerate until they are firm, about an hour or so. Store for up to a week in an airtight container in the fridge or for months in the freezer. If they last long enough!
Alternative: As an alternative to balls, if you have playdough moulds you can have lots of fun and clean the moulds then put the dough in them to create shapes before dusting and chilling. I’m thinking of the dentist play dough set and wondering if kids like eating frozen molars… Well, readers, you can let me know! *monkfruit / whole earth sweeteners will not spike blood sugar like honey does but there is enough protein and fibre in this recipe to significantly lower the blood sugar impact. These should not cause hyperactivity or mood swings and should be very pleasant tasting, as monkfruit has no weird aftertaste like many sweeteners do.
Mini Chocolate Peanut Butter Cups
These aren’t just for the kids! Everyone loves a nice little chocolate treat, but you will need mini muffin tins and mini muffin liners to get this right. It’s best that parents do the first part, getting the liners lined and in the freezer, because that’s finicky and you have to work fast. The peanut butter is easy for kids and then you can top with chocolate.
4oz semi sweet chocolate chips
⅛ cup organic coconut oil
½ cup all-natural peanut butter, crunchy or smooth
¼ cup monkfruit sweetener (make sure it’s the one that measures 1:1 with normal sugar)
1 tsp Himalayan sea salt
Line a 24 hole mini muffin tin with paper liners and set aside.
To a microwave-safe bowl, add the chocolate chips and coconut oil and heat until melted. You have to do this incrementally, heat for 30 seconds, then stir and repeat until it’s nice and smooth, using a whisk as you go.
Brush the chocolate mixture into each paper liner, with a bit more in the bottoms to create a nice thick base. Place in the freezer for about 10 minutes to harden up.
Meantime, mix the peanut butter, sweetener, and sea salt well. Taste and adjust the sweetener and salt.
Remove the tray from the freezer, and almost fill the cups with peanut butter, smoothing tops out as you go.
Finish with the chocolate mixture on top, melting it a bit more if needed so it’s soft enough. Completely cover peanut butter and smooth it out.
Place in the freezer again until firm, but not frozen. Store in the fridge, in an airtight container if there are any left over! They keep months in the freezer, as well.
*Chocolate can cause hyperactivity in some children so exercise caution when giving them much. These are great because they are minis and make with much less sugar than most chocolates, but it’s best never to give these late in the day when chocolate can keep kids up.
Almond Butter Bliss
This recipe is extremely easy and makes for a tasty, gooey snack that is great served on celery sticks or cucumber rounds. The protein and fat help mitigate the effect of the sugar.
1 cup roasted almond butter
1 cup raw honey
1 cup organic coconut oil
Pinch Himalayan sea salt
Put everything in a food processor and process, scraping down sides as you go. Place in a glass jar when you’re done and store in the cupboard. Keeps for several months.
Yogurt is a fermented food I highly recommend incorporating in your diet if you don’t already, but I don’t recommend the store bought kind. Not only is it typically low fat, but it’s pasteurized, which means nominal bacteria, if any, survive. It’s best to make your own yogurt, which is very very easy. I teach this in my fun with fermenting class but you can also find out how to make it by purchasing a yogurt maker. They typically come with detailed directions. For those sensitive to dairy you can make coconut yogurt, as I do in my home. You will need popsicle moulds.
2 ½ cups high fat yogurt, unsweetened (preferably homemade)
¼ cup monkfruit sweetener
2 cups frozen berries of choice
¼ cup fruit juice, unsweetened
In blender or food processor, blend fruit juice and frozen berries until slushy, but not fully liquid. Try mango or cranberry or apple. Remove and set aside.
Add yogurt and sweetener to bowl and whisk until blended. Taste and adjust sweetness as needed.
Add berry mixture to the bottom third of popsicle moulds. Top with yogurt mixture and handle. Place in the freezer till set. These keep indefinitely in the freezer and are loads better than those from the store containing corn syrup and artificial colours! But be careful! Berries can stain clothes and furniture so best to eat in the kitchen or outside when weather permits.
No Bake Granola Balls
These little balls have all the goodness of homemade granola bars but are bite sized and easy to make. They contain lots of protein and even essential fatty acids and medium chain triglycerides for healthy goodness, and are sweet without being full of corn syrup, like store bought bars are. You can use any nut butter you choose.
2 cups quick cooking oats
1 cup chia seeds
1 cup shredded coconut
1 cup creamy peanut or other nut butter (all natural)
1 cup soaked raisins
⅓ cup raw honey
2 tsp pure vanilla extract
2 tBsp coconut oil
¼ tsp Himalayan sea salt
Pour boiling water over your raisins for 10-15 minutes to plump them up. Then drain them on a paper towel. Meanwhile, line a cookie sheet with parchment paper.
Mix all the ingredients together in a large bowl until well combined.
Using a tablespoon, scoop into hands and let little fingers make them into balls, then drop them onto the parchment sheet. Refrigerate for 1-2 hours.
Store in an airtight container in the fridge for up to a week or freeze for several months.
I hope everyone in the community is staying sane and healthy under the strain of prolonged social isolation and invite readers to reach out with any health questions they may have in this difficult time. I continue to host regular online classes, including ones on holistic COVID preparedness, stopping sugar, and the ketogenic diet. Those interested can find these and other online classes on my website at hopenotdope.ca/events. Readers can also sign up for my newsletter to get events and health news sent to your inbox by visiting my site at hoppenotdope.ca. As always, readers are encouraged to ask their nutrition questions via the email below. Stay safe!
Namaste! Nonie Nutritionista
Nonie De Long is a registered orthomolecular nutritionist with a clinic in Bradford West Gwillimbury, where she offers holistic, integrative health care for physical and mental health issues. Check out her website here.
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