Granola/ Cereal Bars. 

Yeah. That ‘healthy’ and ‘nutrient rich’ breakfast or lunchtime snack, hanging out in the healthy isle of your favourite supermarket, next to the oats and quinoa, cleverly positioned far enough away from the chocolate and cookie shelving. The salt and sugar content in these things is horrendous. Added artificial dyes and high fructose corn syrup make them one of the worst offenders. They are the charlatans of the confectionary world.

Quick and healthy alternative?

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Homemade Cereal Bars

Select a variety of grains, seeds, dried fruit, raw cacao, non-sugar peanut butter and honey. Mix them together and either press them into a baking tray or roll into balls. Done.

Try this recipe for approximately 10 bars:

1.5 cups oats

1 cup diced nuts (experiment with different nuts. I love chopped almonds)

2 cups rasins or dates

3/4 cup 100% cocoa or cacao powder

1/4 cup non-sweetened peanut butter (if you can find it)

1/4 cup honey (agave syrup or maple syrup if you prefer)

Ice Lollies:

Another favourite children’s snack with virtually no nutrients or anything of any value to a child. Some popular brands on the market have on average around 15 grams of sugar. Some of the worst offenders have up to 18 grams! That is 4 teaspoons of sugar. Do I need to talk about the artificial flavourings, colourings and preservatives? Probably not.

Quick and healthy alternative?

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If your child is going to eat a ice lolly, wouldn’t you rather there was some actual fruit in it? Doesn’t it make sense to be able to pack as many vitamins and nutrients into it as possible? And yes, children still love them. In fact its a great way to gradually introduce fruits to younger children who don’t choose to eat fruits or dislike the texture of certain fruits. As you experiment with different combinations, try slipping in some vegetables, particularly ones like kale which have a huge amount of nutrients. The trick is in the mix. Again, experiment. Enjoy creating.

Try this fun recipe for traffic light lolly pops:

1/2 small watermelon

3 large ripe peaches

5 large ripe kiwi fruit

3 tablespoons of water

1.Red layer:

Remove the watermelon seeds. Puree the flesh. Pour into the ice moulds so they are all 1/3 full. Freeze for around 1-2 hours.

2.Yellow layer:

Blend the peaches and pour onto the frozen red layer. Freeze again for around the same time.

3.Green Layer:

Remove the kiwi skin and seeds if required. Blend the kiwi fruit with the water. Fill the lolly moulds to the top. Add the sticks and freeze.

Sugary Soft drinks (liquid candy)

Probably the main contributor to obesity in children. This really shouldn’t need explaining. If you have managed to miss all those infographics that have been circling the web over the past few years I would be shocked. If you have however, here is one:

Need I say more?

Quick and healthy alternative?

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Water!?

But if you do struggle to get your child to go ‘cold turkey’ how about preparing some really simple fruit flavoured water drinks:

  1. Choose a combination of the fruits that your little one particularly enjoys eating.
  2. Put a few pieces of each fruit into a glass or preferable a jar that can be stored in the fridge.
  3. Fill with still or sparkling water.
  4. Add a little honey or agave syrup if its a little too bitter.
  5. Leave overnight for maximum flavour.

Crisps/Potato Chips

What child doesn’t like snacking on a packet of intensely and artificially flavoured crisps. Be it corn derivatives or potato. We all know how bad these are for us and our children. With their incredibly high salt and fat (bad fat) content these addictive and high-calorie snacks don’t even fight off pre-meal hunger very well. As with sugary drinks, its the daily consumption that really does the damage and attributes to weight gain and its relative long-term side effects. Best to put a stop to this nasty daily snack.

Quick and healthy alternative?

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 Kale Chips:

1.Preheat oven to 350 degree.

2. Tear a large bunch of kale leaves into pieces.

3. Put the leaves into a bowl with a healthy oil such as olive oil or rice bran oil. Olive oil does taste particularly good.

4. Add a sprinkling of salt and pepper and mix around with hands.

5. Spread the oil and seasoned leaves on a baking tray and roast for about 10 minutes in a

6.Spread on a baking sheet in a single layer and roast for 5-10 minutes then turn the leaves over until slightly crispy.

Chocolate:

Who doesn’t like chocolate? Isn’t a little hypocritical to stop your child from eating it too? It’s high in calories, bad for the teeth and carries no nutritious value whatsoever. In fact for anyone trying to gain weight quickly, it is one of the most highly calorie dense things one could eat.

Quick and Heathy Alternative?

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Chocolate!

Yes chocolate. But Raw Chocolate. This has to be one of the most amazing discoveries for me in recent years. And if you weren’t aware of the awesome health benefits that this natural superfood, maybe its time that you did some research. Unprocessed, unheated raw cacao (chocolate) leaves all the iron, zinc, magnesium, copper and vitamin C, in a similar way to uncooked vegetables does. Its great brain food and with a little trial and error and tweaking of recipes to find an acceptable level of sweetness for your child, the recipes for cookies, cakes, icing and homemade chocolate bars are endless.

Try this one using:

1/2 cup Cacao Butter

½ cup Cacao Powder

½ cup Honey

a sprinkling of salt

1. Break cacao butter into pieces.

2.Heat a pot of water until it reaches no more than 55 degrees Celsius.

3.Put cacao butter in a bain marrie in the heated water.

4.Measure your melted cacao butter and pour into a different glass or metal bowl.

5.Mix in cacao powder and stir.

6.Mix in honey or agave syrup.

7.Add extra ingredients that you want to experiment with. Chopped nuts, raisins, goji berries?

8.Pour the warm mixture into you desired shape moulds or into a baking tray to set.

9. Store in fridge for the best results.

Most of these recipes will take a little tweaking for individual tastes. They certainly did for me. The great thing about making your own healthier versions of these favourite snacks though, is that you are in control. You can start with higher amounts of honey to get your children on board, then gradually reduce the quantities for example. Don’t forget honey contains fructose. Its isn’t something to be eaten in large quantities. But it is natural and it does contain antioxidants. Buckwheat honey and darker honeys are amongst the best option.

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