Now that summer is here, the kids will have more time to rove through the kitchen in search of snacks. Time to make sure you have some tasty and good-for-them options on hand! Depending on how handy your kids are in the kitchen, they can help you make these treats or whip them up themselves—it only takes a few core ingredients to make healthy snacks, and you can easily customize your snacks to suit different taste buds.
Instant Ice Cream: Peel 2 bananas and break them into chunks, then toss them into a freezer bag and freeze for at least 6 hours. (Or leave the bananas in the freezer so that you have them when you want them.) Place in a blender with a hefty scoop of nut or seed butter of your choice and blend until you have instant ice cream. Other fun additions include cocoa powder, avocado, and/or spices like cinnamon and ginger. The banana will provide a natural sweetness and give the ice cream a thick, rich texture.
Savory Yogurt Dips: Whole-milk Greek yogurt makes the perfect base for a savory dip! For a Ranch-style dip, just stir in a spice blend made of chives, garlic, and onion (Penzeys Fox Point blend is ideal for this); for a French onion-style dip, choose a spice blend based on dried mushrooms, garlic, and onion (Trader Joe’s Mushroom & Company blend is a huge umami hit of flavor). Other fun options include curry powder or chili powder—not only will they make an instant savory dip for everything from veggies to whole-grain crackers, they’ll turn the yogurt pretty colors thanks to ingredients like turmeric and paprika. You can thin yogurt-based dips with whole milk or buttermilk to make dressings, too.
Yogurt Parfaits/Dips: If you want to make a naturally sweet yogurt dip, stir fresh fruit or jam into whole-milk Greek yogurt. (If you use jam, choose a low-sugar version—aim for under 8g of sugar per tablespoon.) To make chocolate yogurt, stir in equal parts of cocoa powder and maple syrup; to make vanilla yogurt, sweeten it slightly with maple syrup and then add a slight drizzle of vanilla extract. The yogurt can be served as a dip with fresh fruit or layered into glasses to make pretty parfaits. Feel free to decorate the parfaits with chopped nuts, unsweetened flaked coconut, fresh fruit, and/or cocoa nibs.
Hummus However You Like It: Everyone’s favorite dip is endlessly versatile! First of all, you can make your own based on various legumes: chickpeas, great northern beans, and red lentils all provide a creamy, slightly nutty flavor, and although red lentils are not available canned, they only take 5 minutes to simmer to softness. Just whirl the legumes in a food processor with a clove of garlic, a big spoonful of tahini, a squeeze of fresh lemon juice, and a generous drizzle of extra-virgin olive oil. If you use canned beans, reserve the liquid and trickle it into the hummus while the processor is running, adding just enough to create your desired consistency. (If you’re using freshly cooked legumes, trickle in water.) The general ratio is 15 ounces/2 cups of cooked beans to 1 clove of raw garlic, the juice of half a lemon, and 2 tablespoons of extra-virgin olive oil. Add sea salt to taste. If you’re a cumin fan, add a teaspoon of that as well (or more if you like). Homemade hummus can be refrigerated for a week.
Once you’ve made a few batches of basic hummus, experiment with adding ingredients like roasted red peppers, roasted beets, cooked carrots, and/or pesto. You can add those extra ingredients to store-bought hummus, too, although if you do purchase premade hummus, make sure it doesn’t contain any oil except for extra-virgin olive oil. (Most commercial hummus brands use refined oils, unfortunately, but some omit it entirely or use only extra-virgin olive oil.) And again, you can thin hummus with water and use it as dressing. Hummus also makes a great condiment for wraps and sandwiches!