Last week I spent a disproportionate amount of my time hunting for lost shoes – which as it happens I eventually found on the shoe rack. Don’t ask.
This week the hunt goes on for the best dietitian approved/ child pleasing after school snack! One of these days my children will twig what I do for a job and say ‘wow it all makes sense now’ but for now the experimentation, and the silent sobs as nutritional perfection hits the food recycling bin and not their tummies, goes largely unnoticed!
The children’s snack market is vast and varies from the traditional sweets and chocolates, to the ‘you can trust us, we’re good for your children’ range of snacks. But what should a snack provide? From a nutritional stand point it’s a good opportunity to top up on energy intakes and nutrients. From a motherhood stand point it’s an opportunity to keep the peace for a few minutes.
The nutrient on my agenda at the moment is fibre. Although not strictly a nutrient as the body doesn’t absorb it, it’s essential for children (and adults!) to keep their bowels healthy. Higher fibre intakes are also correlated with healthier weights and fibre is essential to encourage a healthy home and feeding ground for the bacteria is our guts which is turn protects health in the long term.
Let’s look at the stats for a minute – fibre requirements for children are set at around 20g per day (details below) and survey data shows all age groups are falling short of requirements.
||Recommended intake of fibre
||15g per day
||20g per day
||25g per day
|17 and over
||30g per day
So I’m on a mission to boost fibre in the snacks they eat whilst also making them smile and earning Mummy brownie points! I’ve shifted my focus from making it all about curbing sugar to actually making it about what fibre I can get in!
Sugar is a problem in excess – it contributes to obesity and it’s no good for teeth. My take is, get the portion size right, give context to when and how often it crops up relative to other food groups in the diet and clean their teeth twice a day! Sugar can add a little sweetness and be a useful carrier for other nutrients they might not otherwise get in. If it isn’t the main constituent of the snack most of the time you’re doing well!
And so to my latest attempt – Banana bran, choc chip muffins. Done in cupcake holders to make a more appropriate portion size for children, they provide nearly 3g fibre per muffin. There is some naturally occurring sweetness from the banana and a little added sugar (known as free sugar) – which equates to about a teaspoon. Their maximum should be 5 teaspoons of free sugar per day for 4-6 year olds – so I don’t think I’m doing too badly!
I have used measuring cups as the measure as it is far quicker in my opinion that weighing everything out. I used Crunchy Bran but I’m sure any bran based cereal would do.
Makes 12 cupcake muffins
- 3 ripe bananas, mashed
- 1 ½ cups Crunchy Bran, blitzed in blender
- 2 tsp baking powder
- ½ tsp bicarb of soda
- Small sprinkling of nutmeg
- 1 cup plain flour (I did half and half with plain wholemeal flour)
- ¼ cup light brown sugar
- Handful chocolate chips
- ½ cup semi skimmed milk
- 1 large egg
- 3 tbsp vegetable oil
- Mix the dry ingredients together.
- Beat the wet ingredients together (milk, egg, oil).
- Mix dry and wet together thoroughly.
- Divide into cupcake holders (better portion size than muffin cases).
- Bake for 20-25 mins at 180 degrees.
Enjoy! Oh and by the way, you don’t have to attend school to enjoy one. They’re only 147 calories each so fall into the healthy snack bracket if you fancy!