Too often summer snacking is centered around popsicles, potato chips, and cured meats. The key to changing your family’s snacking routine is to change the way you access food in the summer. After all, this is the only time in Wisconsin when our options for sourcing food grow exponentially—think farmers’ markets, roadside stands, pick-your-own berry patches, and community supported agriculture (CSA) subscriptions, not to mention your own garden.
Larry London, executive chef at ThedaCare, believes in consuming foods, “… as close as possible to ‘as grown.’ This means fresh produce, in-season fruits, whole grain breads, and locally sourced meat and dairy,” he said.
“I used to explore my grandpa’s garden and orchard every Sunday, and every week there was something new to try, from asparagus in the spring to apples in the fall,” said Chef Larry. “Those food memories made a big impression on me. Think about the food experiences you want your kids to remember, and then make them happen.” Consider these ideas:
- Purchase a CSA subscription and commit to eating everything you discover in your weekly box. Some CSAs also have add-ons like freshly baked bread, fresh eggs, and mushrooms.
- Buy yourself a panini maker or press and embark on a panini adventure using whole-grain bread, hummus, cheese, and sautéed vegetables. That $8 sandwich at the café has nothing on your culinary creation.
- If you don’t want to make one large investment in a CSA, set aside $10 or $20 a week for the farmer’s market and don’t leave until you’ve spent every penny on fresh food. Sounds crazy, but it’s a license to spend money on yourself in a healthy way, and you will be more likely to try a new fruit or vegetable if you truly have to “spend it all in one place.”
Snacks are meant to be convenient. Here are some easy healthy snack ideas from Chef Larry that are quick, cool, and even a little fun:
Don’t dip with a chip. Try your favorite dip with sliced cucumbers, radishes, celery sticks, baby carrots, or red and green bell peppers. For a pretty presentation, put individual servings of dip at the bottom of a stout glass and stick the veggies upright into the dip and serve.
Hard boil eggs ahead of time to grab and go. Steam, not boil, six at a time for 12 minutes. They’ll peel like a dream and you can grab one at a time right out of the fridge.
Be a stick-ler. All food is more fun on a stick, especially for kiddos. Alternate fresh fruit with chunks of cheese or lean meat, like turkey.
Take a mug shot—rather, a shot at filling a mug with nuts, mini carrots, and cherry tomatoes. Choose a vessel that fits into your cup holder in your car and munch while doing errands or driving to work.
Make a toast. Then spread it with peanut or almond butter, or substitute apple slices for the bread.
Don’t forget the classics. Caprese salad is packed with protein and fresh vegetables. It’s sliced tomatoes, fresh mozzarella, torn basil leaves, olive oil, and salt-and-pepper.
Pack your snacks with protein, not carbs. Hummus goes with almost everything: toast, veggie sticks, or whole-grain crackers. In a sandwich, add cucumber slices for crunch. That green garden salad can be topped with a hard-boiled egg and now you have a meal.
Freeze fresh strawberries and raspberries on a cookie sheet to make melt-in-your mouth snacks for hot, sticky kids.
Infuse water with delicious combinations of fruits and herbs. You’ll avoid sweet drinks, and feast your eyes on a beautiful pitcher packed with colorful fruit slices and leafy herbs. Look online for recipes for these healthy alternatives. Infusions even look pretty in a wine glass, an appealing N/A option.
“Be mindful when you are reaching for a snack,” said Chef Larry. “Choose well, be bold, try new things.”
Are you looking for a doctor who can help jump-start your good health? It’s simple. Go to www.thedacare.org and click on “Find a Doctor.”