You’re busy and don’t always have time to cook, but you want you and your kids eating healthy. You know processed foods are bad, and you know too much gluten isn’t great, so you were thrilled when you discovered that pre-packaged gluten-free products exist right in your grocery store. Things like pasta, bagels, cereal and gluten-free "Oreo" cookies that they love so much!
Check out a short walk through of the Gluten-Free section here:
So, maybe you started buying some of these types of alleged health products for kids. It sure is easier and more convenient than baking cookies yourself, your kids enjoy them, and they’re gluten-free. Triple win.
…Can you sense that doom and gloom that bad news is coming?
It’s true: Sadly, you might have been duped once again.
A study this month out of the University of Calgary (https://www.ucalgary.ca/utoday/issue/2018-07-23/new-study-shatters-myth-gluten-free-childrens-products-supermarket-are) that looked at 374 products from various grocery stores found that many of these gluten-free products aimed for children, while perhaps gluten-free, had higher levels of sugar and sodium and often lower levels of protein.
I typically hear people talking about a 'Gluten-Free diet' if it came across a news or radio station, or their doctor suggested cutting out wheat. Now the issue we are REALLY trying to change is to stop eating highly processed, refined carbohydrates. So while yes, you may be doing your guts a favour by cutting out gluten, you're certainly not doing any good for your overall health if you're eating the exact same foods but 'gluten-free'. The true purpose of a diet alteration of this case is to rely less on any processed foods and instead create a new 'nutrition regiment' that focuses on whole foods, ones that don't come with a logo and especially not a mascot.
So back to the drawing board for you as a parent, right?
Here’s the thing: Just like your quest to become fitter and healthier, short cuts don’t really exist when it comes to eating healthy either, (7-minute abs? Please). Getting fit is hard. Eating healthy is hard. But worth it in the long run.
Alas, two golden rules to make your life as a reformed home cook for children (and yourself!) easier:
Tip #1: Allot specific time for snack-making
When it comes to children, you always have to have snacks on hand. Thus set aside a few hours—be it once a month or once a week— to prepare healthy snacks for both you and your kids that you can then freeze and save for the upcoming days and weeks. Because really, the only way you can be 100 percent sure exactly what’s in your food is if you’re putting whole foods together yourself.
Tip #2: Your freezer is your best friend
If your freezer is small, invest in a second one. Make large batches of and then freeze any and all snacks.
To get you moving in the right direction, here are 3 recipes you can try. Super simple and easy and perfect for freezing.
Homemade Granola Bars:
- 1 ½ cups nuts and seeds of choice ( example: 1/2 cup each of chopped pecans, sliced almonds, and sunflower seeds)
- ½ cup flaked coconut (toasted if desired)
- ½ cup dried fruit of choice ( example: dried blueberries + cherries)
- 1 tablespoon chia seeds
- ¼ teaspoon kosher salt
- ½ teaspoon cinnamon
- ½ cup creamy almond butter or any nut butter you like would work
- ⅓ cup maple syrup
- 2 tablespoons coconut oil
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1) In a large mixing bowl, stir together the nuts and seeds, flaked coconut, dried fruit, chia seeds, kosher salt, and cinnamon.
2) Stir together the almond butter, maple syrup, and coconut oil in a small microwave-safe bowl or liquid measuring cup. Microwave the mixture for 30 seconds - it should be hot and pour easily. Stir in the vanilla extract.
3) Pour the almond butter/maple syrup mixture over the dry ingredients and stir until all of the dry ingredients are coated.
4) Pour the sticky mixture into the prepared pan and then use a flat-bottomed drinking glass, measuring cup, or spatula to press the mixture into a firm, even layer in the pan. Cover and place in the refrigerator for at least 1 hour before cutting into 10 granola bars - the longer you let them set, the less crumbly they'll be when you cut into them.
5) Store the granola bars in a sealed bag or container in the refrigerator for 2 weeks or in the freezer for a few months.
Homemade Crock Pot Sugar-Free Apple Sauce
- 20 medium apples (I recommend honey crisp or fuji)
- 1-1/4 cups water
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 cup honey (adjust to your taste, I don’t like it too sweet)
- 1/2-1 tablespoon lemon juice (adjust depending on how sour the apples are)
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- Peel, core, and slice the apples. You can use an apple slicer to speed things up. Just make sure to keep a paring knife close by in case it misses any seeds.
- Place all of the slices in a crock pot and pour water over them. Sprinkle the salt, cover, and set your timer to 6 hours on low.
- After 6 hours has past, stir in the honey, lemon juice (if necessary), vanilla and cinnamon. Most of the apples will have broken down, but there will still be some chunks. If you like your apple sauce really smooth, run a immersion blender through the sauce or put it into a blender and pulse until smooth.
- Store in jars or an airtight container in the fridge for immediate use, and freeze the rest in airtight containers or jars.
Gluten Free Banana-Oat Muffins
- 3 medium, very ripe bananas (a little over 1 cup)
- ¼ cup melted coconut oil
- ¼ cup pure maple syrup
- ¼ cup coconut sugar*, more for topping
- 2 eggs or 2 flax eggs (2 tablespoons ground flax + 6 tablespoons water, whisk together, set for 15 mins)
- ¼ - ½ cup unsweetened almond milk, coconut milk or cashew milk, room temperature (start with 1/4 cup and adjust for the correct consistency)
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 1 ¾ cups gluten free oat flour
- 1 ¼ cups gluten free rolled oats, + more for topping
- 1 ½ teaspoons baking powder
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
- 2 tablespoons rolled oats (optional)
- 1-2 teaspoons coconut sugar* (optional)
- Preheat the oven to 325°F. Coat a standard, 12-muffin pan with nonstick spray or oil.
- Peel bananas and add to a large mixing bowl. Using a sturdy whisk or fork, mash bananas until smooth. Add the coconut oil, maple syrup, sugar, eggs, milk and vanilla. Whisk until well incorporated.
- Add oat flour, oats, baking powder, baking soda and cinnamon. Whisk together until just incorporated, making sure no flour patches remain. Be careful not to overmix, as doing so will result in tough muffins.
- Pour batter evenly into the prepared muffin pan. Optional: sprinkle the muffin tops with rolled oats and sugar.
- Bake for 22-26 minutes.
- Allow to cool on a cooling rack for about 1 hour. Lift out and enjoy!
Take the time.
Because a bad diet as a kid leads to an unhealthy teenager, and an unhealthy teenager leads to an obese and overweight diabetic adult.
If you try these recipes, let me know. I'd love to hear how you and your kids enjoyed them.
- Coach Terrence