Sunday, July 7, 2013

How to Cook Healthy Food for Kids : Make a Healthy Chickpea and Gluten Free Snack For Your Kids

The house was quiet.  Too quiet.  And then I heard it.  A rhythmic crunching sound.  Out of the corner of my eye, I saw that the kitchen pantry door was ajar.  I knew that I hadn't left the pantry door ajar.  That could only mean one thing.  I walked over and of course, there was Colin gleefully munching away on a bag of shrimp chips.  But how could I be upset with him?  His body told him he was hungry and he was resourceful enough to help himself to a snack.

In 1977, the average American child was snacking about once per day.  By 2006, the average American child was snacking more than twice per day.  But is snacking good or bad?  I contend that snacking is good, but most of the processed snacks kids are eating these days are bad.  For example, adolescents who regularly snack on candy, ice cream, and packed fried snacks are more likely to be overweight.

However, while many snack foods are bad for you, snacking can be good for you if you eat healthy snacks.  For instance, one study showed that adolescent females who ate more frequently and snacked more frequently were less likely to have significant weight gain and increases in belly fat over a ten year period.  Healthy snacking is good for your kids for the following reasons:
  1. Snacking controls hunger.
  2. Eating several small meals induces smaller spikes in blood glucose levels.
  3. Scheduled healthy snacking reduces the likelihood of snacking on junk food.
  4. Snacking actually increases the likelihood that your kids will eat their vegetables!
An interesting study entitled, "First Foods Most" provides insight into this last point.  In this study, college kids who fasted before being served a lunch buffet were three times as likely to start their buffet with starches like bread rolls and french fries and two times less likely to start their buffet with vegetables compared to college kids who did not fast.  Also, regardless of whether subjects fasted or not, all subjects ate 50% more of the food item that they started their buffet with.  Based on this study, if your kids eat more frequently by having scheduled healthy snacks, they will be less likely to be in a "starved" state going into their meals.  Rather than spoiling their appetite, healthy snacking may actually get your kids to eat their vegetables first and most!

Craving Something Salty?

Are your kids craving something salty?  Here's a link to a simple recipe to make your own homemade savory seasoning (you don't need to add the brewer's yeast):

Although the above recipe is for popcorn, I don't recommend popcorn as a snack for kids until they are old enough to floss because the pieces of kernel can get stuck in their teeth and cause cavities.  Instead, try this same seasoning on whole foods such as nuts, seeds, or chickpeas:

Simple Savory Chickpea Recipe

  • 1 can chickpeas
  • Seasoning
  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. 
  2. Drain chickpeas.  
  3. Shake chickpeas with 1/2 tsp of seasoning in ziplock bag
  4. Bake on foil lined pan for 30 minutes, tossing twice in between  

Craving Something Sweet?

In this clip, I show you an easy recipe for homemade cookies that I learned from Kristen Leidelmejier, the personal chef that I work with to improve the health of my patients.  These cookies have no added sugar and are much healthier than the typical store bought cookie.

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Simple Sugar Free Flourless Cookie Recipe

(About 18 cookies)


  • 1/2 cup rolled oats
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce or mashed banana
  • 1/4 cup natural peanut butter
  • 1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • dash of salt
  • 2 tbsp chopped walnuts or dried fruit
  • Optional: 1-2 tbsp dark chocolate chips
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. 
  2. Mash the applesauce or banana with the peanut butter, then add all other ingredients and mix well. 
  3. Shape into cookies and bake on a greased cookie sheet for 15 minutes.     


Piernas C et al.  Trends in Snacking Among U.S. Children.  Health Aff.  2010;29(3):398-404.

McDonald CM et al.  Overweight is more prevalent than stunting and is associated with socioeconomic status, maternal obesity, and a snacking dietary pattern in school children from Bogota, Colombia.  J Nutr  2009;139:370-376.

Griffiths AJ et al.  Immediate metabolic availability of dietary fat in combination with carbohydrate.  Am J Clin Nutr 1994;59:53-9.

Ritchie LD.  Less frequent eating predicts greater BMI and waist circumference in female adolescents.  Am J Clin Nutr 2012;95:290-6.

Wansink B et al.  First foods most: after 18-hour fast, people drawn to starches first and vegetables last. Arch Intern Med 2012;172(12):961-963.

Johansson I et al.  Snacking habits and caries in young children.  Caries Res 2010;44:421-430.

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