Healthy snacks... yes, there is such a thing!

Nutrition Notes: Snacking with a purpose

by Edgar Calderon, Nutrition Intern

All parents understand that it is important to provide healthy snacks to children, but did you know most kids get over a quarter of their daily calories from snacking? A 2010 study reported that sixty percent of children skip a meal, typically breakfast. Often the caloric deficiency is made up through snacking. These recent studies and surveys have made it more clear how much of an impact snacking choices have on a child’s development. Unfortunately, it is extremely difficult to get kids to make smart snacking choices when typically the decision process does not include the parents.

Below are a few tips that will help encourage kids to make smarter decisions when they visit the fridge and/or pantry.

Give kids what they love. Try to incorporate their favorite foods into their snack, even if this means cookies. A single crushed up cookie will go a long way in a healthy trail mix of nuts and dried fruit.

You can wrap everything. Try a savory hummus and shredded carrot wrap or if they are craving something sweet, get out their favorite nut butter and fruit. Your wrapping options are only confined to your creativity!

Make your own dips. Most store-bought dips can be unhealthy. Making your own can be easier than it sounds, and it gives you and your family the ability to customize to your specific tastes. Make an easy tasty dip for veggies using taco seasoning and low-fat plain yogurt.

Use simple recipes. Using simple recipes allows for (older) kids to be more involved in the food preparation process. Try new recipes with them or try to create a healthy spin on a family favorite. They will be proud of their recipes and be excited to share with friends.

Looking for a few fun new snack ideas? Check out a few of these resources for ideas:

Super Healthy Kid Snacks
The 20 Best Snacks for Kids
10 Snack Tips for Parents

Granola is a great snack, if you know how to do it the healthy way!

Nutrition Notes: How to become a DIY granola guru

Jenna Olson, RD and Nutrition & Wellness Educator

Granola is known as a breakfast favorite around the world. Some people view granola as a power-packed health food, while others think it is chalked full of unnecessary calories. Store-bought granola can be expensive, but the great news is you can make your own and it is usually less expensive!

Granola is a fun and super simple healthy option that can be prepared right at home! By making granola at home, the potential for mystery ingredients is removed, which makes it easier to forgo the possibly not-so healthy ingredient options. A basic granola recipe generally includes oats, sweetener, oil and some add-in options. Those options may include nuts, dried fruit, seeds or dried coconut shavings. Some recipes may even call for an extra protein punch from peanut butter or other nut butter such as almond butter. Since granola is packed with nutritionally dense ingredients, it is important to be conscious of portion sizes! The average serving size for granola is about 1/4 cup (about the size of one large egg) and ranges from 100-150 calories per serving depending on the ingredients chosen.

Granola recipe ideas are endless! Follow the steps below, and get creative in the kitchen with a recipe that suits your style and taste buds.

Main Ingredients

1. Grains: 3 cups
Most recipes include rolled oats but feel free to add in a couple tablespoons of quinoa for extra protein.

2. Nuts: 1-1 ½ cups
Choose a favorite nut or go for a mix some favorites include almonds, pistachios, walnuts or pecans.

3. Sweetener: 1/2 – 3/4 cup
A liquid sweetener helps bind the granola together by coating the mixture evenly. Try using maple syrup, honey, agave or brown rice syrup.

4. Oil: 1/4 – 1/2 cup
This is the crunch factor. The sweetener is in charge of binding whereas the oil keeps the granola from becoming one big sticky glob. Oils including olive oil, coconut oil, canola or grapeseed oil will do the trick.

5. Salt: Just a pinch
Salt always goes a long way so make sure to not over do it here!

Potential Add-In Ingredients

6. Seeds: 1-2 cups
These may include pumpkin, sunflower or sesame seeds

7. Dried coconut shavings or dried fruit: 1 cup

8. Spices: 1 teaspoon
Try adding sweet and savory spices to the recipe such as cinnamon, nutmeg or ginger.

Directions (How to mix and bake properly)

1. Turn oven on to 300˚F.

2. Place all dry ingredients into a large bowl. Do not add dried fruit or roasted nuts at this stage, if they are a part of the designed recipe.

3. Add oil and sweetener to the bowl of dry ingredients and stir all ingredients together.

4. Spray baking pan with non-stick spray and spread out granola mixture onto baking sheet.

5. Bake at 300 ˚F for 30-45 minutes; make sure to stir granola half way through after about 20 minutes in the oven.

6. Let granola cool completely and store in an airtight container.

Granola is a great addition to many staple snack and meal ideas. Check out a few of the links below for recipes and ideas on how to use it! Happy baking!

Granola: 14 Ways to Use It
Peanut Butter Oatmeal Energy Bites
3 Ingredient No Bake Granola Bars
Grab & Go Granola Bars and Bites

Photo from Serving & Sharing Foundation's website.

Serving & Sharing Foundation selected as February Agency of the Month!

by Shelly Hahne, Nonprofit Services Manager

The Serving & Sharing Foundation started distributing EFAP commodities packages last April, and have become a leading agency in a very short amount of time. When they initially contacted the Food Bank about running an EFAP site, there was a great need for food assistance in the Valley Center area. This group from Chula Vista decided if the need was there, they could meet it.

In the nine months since their program opened, more than 8,357 meals (the equivalent of 10,697 pounds of food) have been distributed to individuals and families in need by this dedicated group of staff and volunteers. They operate a monthly mass distribution that serves 76 households each month.

This group of volunteers has also stepped up to help other distribution sites in times of need. Just last month, they offered to help at First Christian Church of National City’s larger monthly distribution when the site’s regular lead volunteers were out on vacation. This is truly a committed group who is willing to do everything in their power to fight hunger across our community.

Congratulations to the Serving & Sharing Foundation for the amazing work you do!