School has started and our young are out of the house, learning and thriving and growing by leaps and bounds. They are ravenous and insatiable, devouring books, videos and after-school snacks like a cloud of locust. As a matter of fact, I’m feeling a little peckish right now, too.
Michale Pollen, the great and powerful, said if you are hungry, then eat an apple. If you don’t want to eat an apple, you are probably not actually hungry. That has become my new mantra. It works fine for me, because I have decades of guilt and insecurities, but it is not a popular theory with the young folks. They can be snappy and irritable after school, and would prefer something crunchy and sweet and salty – nothing so banal and clichéd (or available – look at that bowl full of fruit sitting on your counter!) as a simple apple.
We don’t want to load up or lard up before dinner, but sometimes a little taste treat is the answer to everyone’s general crankiness. And a moment spent lingering together in the kitchen, or chatting while driving to the next practice is the only quality conversation we will have some days.
Luckily, with the miracle of the internet, there are so many expert snacking tips floating around the ether – ideas coming from folks who understand the science of nutrition, who aren’t just trying to silence the shrieks of desperation from bored and cranky children. They have answers that fill our new re-usable silicon snack bags and adorable Bento boxes. (If we shouldn’t be using single use straws or shopping bags, should we actually be using plastic baggies? We are trying to wean ourselves off the soul-crushing dependence on plastic bags. That’s why the fridge looks so tidy these days.)
Food52, always our favorite place to start food and meal research, has lots of tasty aprés school snacks. They will also feed the self-employed, who wander into the kitchen at all hours, seeking sustenance and a short diversion from one’s own dull and repetitive thoughts. Here is a no-recipe recipe for a Chex-y snack mix. It will use up a lot of half bags of pretzels, and boxes of cereal. (It is also excellent when served with beer.) https://food52.com/blog/9403-how-to-make-snack-mix-without-a-recipe-savory-or-sweet
Martha has a simple recipe for oatmeal cookies, that you can prepare with the children. Or not. I always enjoyed baking with our children. There is nothing quite so wonderful as learning how to measure flour, and then getting it all over the kitchen – life as a science fair project. https://www.marthastewart.com/315977/healthy-oatmeal-cookies
Obviously, I am a salty fatty snack person. Which is why Luke the wonder dog and I walk for an hour every day, to atone for my fatty snack sins. But I have never understood why people buy microwave popcorn. You might just as well plunk $5 down for pre-popped corn. I love cooking popcorn on the stove, with oil and generous lashings of melted butter. But that is when we are having a tear-jerk movie marathon, not trying to fill the after school furnaces that need stoking. And so I pass along a very simple, and a healthy alternative to chemical laced commercial popcorn:
DIY Microwave Popcorn:
1/3 cup popcorn kernels
1 medium brown paper lunch bag
Melted butter and salt or other seasonings to taste
Pour the popcorn kernels into the paper bag and fold the top over, and staple once, in the middle. No more staples or the microwave will explode!
Microwave on high until the popping slows, about 90 seconds. You do not want to burn the popcorn! Never!
Pour the popped popcorn into a large bowl and season as desired. Some people add seasoning salt, ranch dressing mix, cinnamon sugar, olive oil and sea salt, or sautéd garlic butter.
Smoothies – cool and refreshing, noisy and messy. If you are alone in the kitchen you can sneak in some kale! Something to appeal to everyone: https://www.verywellfit.com/how-to-make-a-basic-smoothie-2506858
And then there is always the basic peanut butter on whole wheat bread, or if you have exhausted every possible food avenue, eat an orange.
Orange you glad I didn’t say banana?”
– Some Dad, Somewhere