Without fail, every day right around 3:00 pm my kids rush up to me asking, “What can we have for a snack?!” I’m usually trying to feed their little brother or he’s sleeping on me (which despite six months of me trying to tell them that’s not the best time to ask me for things they continue to do it daily anyway).
I’ve been teaching my kids to cook for quite a few years now. They are very capable in the kitchen. I think they forget that too. So my response is usually a hushed, “I don’t know. Go find something.” And a prayer that baby brother stays asleep.
What ensues is some kind of chaotic concoction and kitchen mess. My ten year old loves to create. So when she is told to go make something…she does! It’s usually a mix of yogurt, seeds, dried fruit, oats or random bits of whatever they can find. The other day I walked into the kitchen to find them mixing cocoa powder and water, attempting to make chocolate!
Creativity in the kitchen is good for them! Plus I want them to feel confident in making their own food choices.
As long as they eat it and clean up the mess I don’t care.
No Kitchen Mess Before Guests
Except when I’m trying to keep the house clean. We are hosting all of my husband’s family for Christmas this year. They are all from out of town. So that means four days of guests. Lots of cooking. And hopefully, a clean house at least to start.
It also means there will be lots of kids and there’s no way I’m telling them all to go find something to eat in my kitchen!
But it is inevitable. Kids will ask for snacks!
Like a good mom, I went to Pinterest to see if there was some kind of snack mix I could make in advance (or have my kids make) so there would be something easy for little ones to grab and eat.
Literally Every. Single. Recipe had at least one of the following ingredients (sometimes all of them!):
- cheese crackers
- brightly colored candy
- lots of sugar
Well, that won’t do. We strictly avoid food coloring (read why here). That eliminates candy and marshmallows (yes, they have food coloring too).
We are gluten free (read why here). Not to mention we try to keep processed food to a minimum. That eliminates the pretzels and crackers. I do sometimes make our own gluten-free pretzels and cheese crackers. But I didn’t think that would be a very good recipe to share…telling everyone to make several other recipes in advance. Plus, did I mention I’m having a house full of people to cook for? I don’t have time for that either!
We all know that too much sugar is NOT good for you. Especially kids.
That leaves cereal. I’ll be honest. We do have a few boxes of organic gluten-free cereal in the house as a once in a while treat. But again, not much of a recipe to share to mix some packaged food. That’s not what the four pillars of Kitchen Stewardship are built on.
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Simple Snack Mix Kids Can Make
I wanted something easy to make, allergy friendly, and delicious! Plus no processed food.
With the help of my creative kids, we came up with a tasty snack mix. You can prep it in less than ten minutes. And you can make a huge batch to stash in the freezer. It might even last you through Christmas break.
This is the perfect way to get all of your kids in the kitchen helping. The little ones can measure, pour and mix the dry ingredients (bonus that it’s easy to clean up if they do spill!). Older kids can do the stove top and oven work. And everyone can enjoy the finished product.
The big kids might even want to portion the snack mix into individual bags so snacking with holiday guests is super easy. They can be practice being gracious hosts.Print
A sweet, salty, crunchy, chewy snack mix that kids will love to make and eat.
- 2 cups organic rolled oats
- 1 cup shredded coconut flakes or pieces (unsweetened)
- 1/2 cup raisins or dried cranberries
- 1/2 – 1 cup dates, chopped
- 1/2 cup peanuts or chopped almonds (optional)
- 2 tbsp chia seeds (optional)
- 2 tbsp hemp seeds (optional)
- 1/2 tsp sea salt
- 1/2 cup coconut oil (or butter)
- 2 tbsp maple syrup
- Heat the oven to 325F.
- Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper
- In a large bowl combine all of the dry ingredients and mix.
- In a small saucepan melt the coconut oil with the maple syrup.
- Pour the coconut oil over the dry mix and stir until well-combined.
- Spread the mixture on the parchment lined baking sheet.
- Bake at 325F for 25 minutes.
- Allow to cool.
- Store in a covered container at room temperature for up to 3 weeks or in the freezer for up to a year.
- The recipe can easily be doubled or tripled.
- The snack mix is ready to eat straight from the freezer.
- The snack mix also works as a yogurt topping or cereal.
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The recipe uses two tablespoons total of maple syrup for just a hint of sweetness. Depending on your kids’ taste buds you could cut it out completely. The combination of coconut oil and dried fruit gives a very pleasant flavor. Especially the date pieces. When they are baked they get super chewy and gooey. My kids fight over them. Next time I might have to double the amount of dates I add.
If you’re making this for very young kids you can simplify it and just do oats, shredded coconut and raisins. It will be less messy and easier to eat.
For a very allergen-free version omit the nuts and seeds. You can increase the oats instead.
Healthy Snacking Made Easy
This gluten-free snack mix is the perfect combination of salty, sweet, crunchy and chewy. And who doesn’t love that?
Plus it is loaded with healthy fat and protein to keep the kids energized (as I write that I’m wondering if that’s a good thing…). Hopefully, there will be lots of snow by us so they can use that energy outside, building snow forts and sledding. Then enjoy some of my healing hot cocoa to warm up afterward.
Keep a big batch of this sweet and salty snack mix in a jar in the cupboard. Then whenever someone is begging for a snack you can just point them to the pantry. Or simply leave it on the counter with a scoop and some bowls. Snacking dilemma solved! No processed food required.
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