I continue to be amazed by the amount of food consumed at our household! Between gymnastics, swimming and an after-school running program, as well as normal growing, they are steady grazers. There are many days where it feels like all I do is prepare meals and snacks, and then more meals and snacks.
Despite the extra preparation, I have really been trying to focus on the quality of the food they are given, not just the quantity. Yes, they are burning enough calories that snack mixes, chips, candy bars and energy drinks won’t stay with them for long, but they won’t be this active forever and I would like to set them up with good eating habits for life.
Matters have been further complicated by the recent discovery that, like me, they are both gluten intolerant, with one being sensitive to lactose as well. Yep, it has become even more challenging to keep them full and feeling well!
Rather than thinking of assembling snacks, I have changed my mind-set to preparing mini-meals. Pairing a couple of items together that are easy to eat, but yet leave them feeling full and energized.
What has been working for us?
Greek yogurt is a best friend; stir in some cereal or granola and it really has staying power! The Greek variety has substantially more protein than regular yogurt; and yogurt itself is more easily digested than other dairy products for those with lactose sensitivities.
Homemade gluten-free snack mixes with dried fruit, nuts, whole grain cereal, pretzels and a few chocolate covered candies as a little treat, are easy to eat on the go. My oldest really likes pistachios; a little bag of those is great fuel before practice.
Lots of fresh fruits and vegetables! Clementines, apples and bananas are all very portable. Washed berries are also easy to pop in your mouth. Sliced apples and peanut butter are one of our favorites (almond butter is also a good choice). Another is raw vegetables with hummus; they have become our post-practice fare.
The 20-minute drive home from practices was filled with moans of, “I’m starving!” Dinner couldn’t happen soon enough! To help them make it to the table, while at the same time not ruining their dinner, I started giving them their “salad course” of veggies and hummus for the car ride home. By the time we get home, the girls no longer feel like they are “going to die,” but still have plenty of appetite for dinner.
On Sundays (when time allows) I also like to bake a batch of muffins. They make a quick breakfast or mid-morning snack at school. It has taken quite a bit of tweaking, but I have finally found a recipe that is not only gluten-free and healthy, but tastes good as well.
My mom used to bake banana muffins with whole wheat flour, wheat germ and yogurt that were a breakfast favorite for me. The problem I found with many gluten-free recipes is that while they may taste good, they just aren’t that good for you. Too many ingredients like tapioca starch, potato starch, extra eggs and refined sugar make them more cupcake than muffin.
After much trial and error in my quest for a more meaningful gluten-free muffin, I have finally come up with a blend of high-protein, gluten-free flours that pack some nutritional punch, but still produce a moist, tasty muffin. I have found equal success in making pumpkin or banana muffins with the flour blend (the recipe for the banana version follows).
Every time I catch myself grumbling about the time I spend assembling food for the masses, I try to remind myself that the pay-off is well worth it. Active kids, with healthy eating habits, are set up for a lifetime of good health!
A More “Meaningful” Banana Muffin
(Makes a dozen muffins)
1 cup quinoa flour
¾ cup gluten free baking flour blend (mine includes brown rice flour, potato and tapioca starch, because you do need a little or it will taste like cardboard!)
¼ cup flax meal
¾ teaspoon xanthan gum (if not already included in the flour blend above)
1 teaspoon baking soda
¾ teaspoon cinnamon
½ teaspoon nutmeg
½ teaspoon salt
2 ripe bananas, mashed
½ cup natural applesauce (the individual serving containers equal ½ cup)
¼ cup Greek yogurt
½ cup honey
¼ cup canola oil
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup add-ins (chopped nuts, dried fruit, or ¼ cup mini-chocolate chips)
Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees. Spray muffin pan with non-stick cooking spray or place liners in cups.
Whisk together all dry ingredients in a large mixing bowl: flours, flax meal, xanthan gum, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt. In a separate, medium-sized bowl, combine wet ingredients: mashed bananas, applesauce, yogurt, honey, eggs, canola oil and vanilla.
Combine wet and dry ingredients in large bowl, being careful to not over mix. Fold in dried fruit, nuts or chocolate chips. Place batter in muffin pan, filling each cup 2/3 to 3/4 of the way full. Bake for 15-18 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center of muffin comes out clean.