— This article appeared in the October 2016 Bamboo Telegraph, Singapore
Three meals a day isn’t always enough! Whether it is for kids after school, a husband who can’t wait for dinner, or you returning from a tennis match, snacks are always in high demand.
Unfortunately, most snack foods are highly processed, high in calories and low in nutrition. With a little planning, it is easy to have delicious home-made choices available.
Snacking is easy with the right frame of mind! Remember to get apples, bananas, and other ‘easy access’ fruits at the store. These are simple and easy to take on the go. Use a cookie cutter to cut pieces into fun shapes, or serve bite size pieces on a skewer.
Pick a weekly focus for snacks and make in advance; granola is a great example. Granola is simple to make, stores well, is a winner with all ages. It can be made into bars, cookies or even served with yogurt.
Yogurt also goes well with honey, fruit or cereal. Try different variations like Greek, Turkish, or even Icelandic yogurts. Layer a glass with yogurt and fruit and/or granola for an appealing presentation.
Make different spreads or dips to serve with vegetables, crackers or flatbread. Don’t just stick to the same old recipes, make your hummus with white beans or edamame instead of garbanzo beans, or add avocado for a colour change. Add some local flavours like curry, tamarind or turmeric for variety. Throw some sun-dried tomatoes or roasted red peppers into your pesto for a different flavour profile. Add mango or dragon fruit to your salsa for an Asian spin.
Quiches and tarts are great for any meal, and also make a good snack since they can be served hot or cold. You can bake them in muffin tins to get the perfect snack size.
Leftover foods make awesome and convenient snacks. Get creative! Make quesadillas with leftover Mexican food, use leftover stir fry in a lettuce wrap or bake leftover pasta with cheese for pasta square bites. One of my favourite ways to use leftover Thai ingredients (lemongrass, galangal, garlic, chilies, kaffir leaves) is to stir fry them with raw peanuts. These nuts never make it to the next day!
For many families, the biggest problem with snacks isn’t finding them, but getting the kids’ seal of approval! What child or teenager has ever leapt at the prospect of eating cucumber or celery with hummus? Often, this isn’t about the name or even the taste of the snack, but the way it looks and how they think it will taste. Make snacks fun for kids by making a face or animal, or by engaging them. Hummus, for instance, is a staple across the Middle East and there is a yearly competition to eat the largest amount of hummus in a single sitting! Look for fun food facts to interest picky eaters. For teenagers and adults, experiment with colour and texture: add olive oil or paprika to make the hummus smoother or bright red.
So, the next time you are hit by a snack attack, be prepared with something nutritious on hand.