Edible Art: Healthy snacks – food for thought

“Eating well starts with cooking from scatch.”  Jamie Oliver

Have you ever gone grocery shopping with your kids and been harangued as they try to convince you to buy every type of junk food in existence? I am always surprised and I ask myself, “How do they know about all these different snacks that we never have at home?”. A couple of weeks ago I witnessed a scene between a group of kids at FunLab who were having snacks brought from home during our one week camp and a light bulb went off in my head.  One little girl proudly pulled out a snack that her Mom had lovingly packed in her backpack – a small container of ricotta. Her happy face quickly clouded over as she observed her companions who had started to munch on their snacks. It does not matter how good ricotta is because it is hard to compete with a Kinder Delice or a chocolate bar by Nestle.  Kids talk to each other and observe what their friends bring from home to eat.

This led me to another question. Can I make a healthy snack that is up to this level of competition? In forming my answer I looked at the website of the dynamic British chef Jamie Oliver.  One of his recent projects is a Food Revolution in the United States.  In summary, this “revolution” goes beyond improving the food served in American schools but is trying to re-educate a population that has fallen into the trap of processed food which, as we all know, has lead to a massive problem of obesity.

Here is the FunLab healthy snack proposal – Banana nut bread.  I picked this recipe for two factors: 1. bananas are jam packed with minerals such as potassium, iron and calcium as well as being high in fiber, 2. walnuts are rich in omega-3 fatty acids and a long list of vitamins and minerals.  The healthy aspect is well covered.  Furthermore, the sugars from the ripe bananas make this a sweet cake-like dessert that children like.

1/2 cup (114 grams) butter
1 cup (230 grams) sugar
2 eggs
4 small ripe bananas (the riper the better, meaning that black on the outside is perfect!)
1/2 teaspoon (1 coffee spoon full) salt
3/4 teaspoon (1 heaping coffee spoon full) baking soda
1 1/2 cup (230 grams) flour
3/4 cup (80 grams) chopped walnuts
1 teaspoon (5 ml) vanilla

Heat oven to 350F (180C).
Cream the butter and sugar until well blended. Add the eggs one at a time and mix well between additions. Add all flour, salt and baking soda and mix until incorporated. Add vanilla and mix well. In a small bowl, mash the bananas (we used a potato masher and this was the kid’s FAVORITE step). Stir the mashed bananas and chopped walnuts into the batter. Spread in loaf pans.

Cooking time:  if using a single loaf pan for the batter it will take around 60 minutes for the bread to cook.  We used small individual loaf pans and the bread cooked in 25 minutes.  The bread should be a rich brown on top and a knife should come out clean when inserted in the center.

We packaged our snack in saran wrap with a bow and card with a message from Mom. Now we can only hope that it does not suffer the same fate as that ricotta – the trash can.

Recipe origin: I am not sure where this recipe comes from – I copied it from my Mom years ago.

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