My eldest daughter started Reception last week. I feel the run up to this important event in both our lives has taken some time to prepare. There was the purchasing of the uniform and making decisions on dresses vs. skirts and cardigans with the school logo or without. Then there was the buying of school shoes. My daughter is blessed with Mummy’s wide feet and having failed to get any shoes in two shops I was contemplating ordering online which was a let down for my daughter and a concern for me! Thankfully, we found a shop that had a pair of H’s and my daughter liked them. I think by this point she would have taken anything, just to be able to walk out of the shop and announce she now had school shoes! We sorted the bag and PE kit relatively easily and the non-iron/non-sew name tags were a life-saver.
The last thing on my to do list was ensuring I had supplies of healthy snacks for two breaks. This was a very important part of the school day it seemed and my daughter was obviously very excited at the thought of what snacks she would be getting. She talked of chocolate bars, crisps, sweets with the odd pear or banana thrown in. I toddled off to the shops and came away with cereal bars, fruit bars, dried fruit, fruit and nut bars and any combination of these as well as a plentiful supply of fruit, carrots, and cucumber. I then re-read the guidelines and had completely forgotten the ‘no nut’ policy. Oh dear, half of my hoard contained nuts. Now as a dietitian I thought this snack malarkey should be straightforward. Perhaps I was overthinking it but the picture of my daughter looking expectantly in her school bag for her snack made me want to do more than just pop a piece of fruit or a few carrot sticks and a box of raisins in her bag. I had to do better. It was my mission.
Having given this far too much thought, I have jotted a few suggestions below as well as some easy recipes that can be made, sliced and frozen in advance for a surprise snack for your little one. Great for the post school pick-me up too.
- Plain popcorn (very easy to make at home)
- Little pots of wholegrain cereal
- Cheese and crackers
- Mini breadsticks with cheese spread
- Individual cheese sticks
- Currant buns, teacakes
- Welsh cakes
- Plain or fruit based cake
- Malt loaf
- Wholewheat biscuits
- Savoury biscuits
- Mini plain animal biscuits
- Flavoured rice cakes
- Cereal bars
- Breakfast bars/biscuits
- Fresh fruit and vegetables - use a variety, cut into different shapes and put into little containers
- Dried fruit - raisins, mango, apple etc
- Dried fruit crisps - apple, banana
Don’t be fooled by the snacks aimed at children that claim to contain ‘one of their five a day’ - they are full of sugar and cost a fortune Be aware of too much dried fruit too as they are a concentrated source of fruit sugar so still a high sugar source. The odd bag of crisps is fine (everything in moderation is our mantra) but try and choose from Quavers, Wotsits, Skips, Pom Bear, baked crisps or the small bags of Hula Hoops.
Quick and Easy Recipes - the cakes and loaf can be frozen once baked
340g / 12oz Self Raising Flour
2 tsp Cinnamon
285g / 10oz Soft Brown Sugar
85g / 3oz Raisins
170g / 6oz Margarine
454g / 1Ib Apples
- Preheat the oven to 170’C/325’F/gas mark 3
- Line an 8 inch round or square cake tin, 3 - 4 inches deep
- Beat the sugar and margarine together until smooth.
- Add the rest of the ingredients and mix thoroughly.
- Bake for 45 mins then cover the top with foil to prevent burning. Cook for a further 30 - 60 mins. Check after 30 mins by inserting a skewer into the cake and if clean, the cake is ready.
- Cool, slice and freeze individual portions.
Bara Brith (Welsh fruit loaf)
450g/1lb Dried mixed fruit
250g/9oz Soft brown sugar
300ml/½ pint Black tea, warm
2 tsp Mixed spice
450g/1lb Self-raising flour
1 Egg, beaten
- In a large bowl soak the fruit and sugar in strained tea and leave overnight.
- Next day preheat the oven to 170’C/325'F/gas mark 3. Line a 900g/2lb loaf tin with baking parchment.
- Mix the remaining ingredients into the fruit mixture and beat well.
- Pour the mixture into the loaf tin and bake for 1½ hours or until a skewer inserted into the middle comes out clean.
Savoury Cheese Biscuits
100g/4oz Mature grated cheddar cheese
100g/4oz Plain flour
- Preheat the oven to 180’C/350’F/gas mark 4
- Mix all the ingredients together to form a dough, if it's too dry and not sticking add a little water
- Roll out onto a floured surface to about 1/2 cm deep and using any small shaped cutter, cut out different shapes
- Place on a lined baking sheet and bake in the oven for about 10 minutes until a golden colour
- Cool on a wire rack.
250g/10oz Soft brown sugar
6 small Bananas, mashed
200g/8oz Self-raising flour
- Preheat the oven to 180’C/350’F/gas mark 4
- In a saucepan, melt the margarine/butter and sugar
- Add the mashed banana and flour and mix thoroughly.
- Line an 8 inch square cake tin. Pour the mixture into the tin.
- Bake in the oven for 20 minutes.
- Cool, slice and freeze.
- Peel and slice the bananas in 1/4"-thick slices (or thinner).
- Lay slices on a baking tray, lined with parchment paper or aluminium foil.
- Brush each banana slice with lemon juice to prevent excessive browning of the bananas.
- Back at 100’C/200’F/gas mark 1/4 for 1.5 hours.
- Store in an airtight container.