Bread Roll Puppets

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Today, Travis had full permission to play with his food because we turned a bread roll into a puppet!

To start, I showed Travis how to make a “smile” in a French bread roll by cutting a slit in the middle like a mouth.

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Poke two additional holes above the mouth with a butter knife to be the eyes. We filled these with chocolate chips, although raisins might have worked better.

For a silly tongue, fold up your favorite meatless deli slice (like Tofurky), and insert into the mouth.

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Let the showtime begin! Travis immediately began both eating the puppet and being silly with it, squeezing so the mouth could move. The rolls were so delicious that the puppet didn’t last long! But if you manage to slow your hungry kids down, arrange the rolls on a plate with basil or lettuce leaves as hair for a cute photo-op first.

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Chocolate Pomegranate Dip

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Sneak a little pomegranate into your family’s repertoire with this yummy snack dip!

Ingredients:

  • 1 package dairy-free chocolate pudding mix
  • 1 and 1/2 cups oat milk
  • 1 cup non-dairy sour cream
  • 1/3 cup pomegranate juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon orange zest
  1. Combine the pudding mix and oat milk in the bowl of a stand mixer and beat until blended.
  2. Add the remaining ingredients and beat to combine. Transfer to a bowl, cover, and chill for 1 hour.

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We love this served with fresh fruit like orange segments for dipping! You can also dunk in slices of pound cake. Or just eat it up with a spoon!

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Reindeer Mix

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Really this is just an ordinary snack mix that you could make any time of year. But if you tell your kids it’s “Reindeer Mix”, all of a suddenly ordinary becomes extraordinary!

Ingredients:

  • 3 tablespoons Earth Balance butter
  • 3 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon minced fresh thyme
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 cup almonds
  • 1 cup walnuts
  • 2 cups pretzel twists
  • 1 cup Puffins cereal
  • 1/2 cup dried cranberries
  • 1/2 cup vegan white chocolate chips
  1. Combine the butter, brown sugar, thyme, salt, and cinnamon in a small saucepan. Cook over low heat for about 3 minutes, just until the butter melts and the sugar dissolves.
  2. Arrange the almonds and walnuts on a baking sheet lined with foil and pour half of the brown sugar mixture over the nuts, tossing to coat. Bake at 375 degrees F for 7 minutes.
  3. Toss the pretzels with the remaining brown sugar mixture. Add to the baking sheet and bake for a final 3 minutes. Let cool for 30 minutes.
  4. Transfer the nut mixture to a large bowl and add the cereal, dried cranberries, and white chocolate, stirring to combine.

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Be sure to snack on this mix while you track the reindeer and Santa across the sky on Christmas Eve!

Candy-Less Canes

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Confession: we’ve probably eaten way too many sugary candy canes this holiday season. So it was time to put a healthier spin on this favorite holiday treat!

Over two afternoons, we had fun making faux candy canes with red-and-white foods. First up was a fruit version. I sliced strawberries and bananas and set them on a cutting board, then challenged Travis to arrange them like a candy cane (or as Veronika calls it, a “minty”).

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He quickly got the hang of it, and then both kids loved devouring this trompe l’oiel snack.

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Needless to say, the red stripes (a.k.a. strawberries) didn’t last long.

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The next day it was time for a savory spin on the treat! This time I set out piles of sliced tomato and vegan feta cheese. Travis again quickly figured out how to line them up like candy cane stripes.

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And the kids quickly polished it off for a snack! What foods would you use for a pretend candy cane? Please share in the comments!

Baked Pita Chips

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These easy homemade chips are a delicious alternative to store-bought ones, and perfect for dipping in hummus.

Ingredients:

  • 3 whole wheat pitas
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1/4 teaspoon garlic salt
  1. Brush the olive oil evenly over the pitas, coating both sides.
  2. Cut each pita into 8 wedges and transfer to a baking sheet. Sprinkle evenly with the garlic salt.
  3. Bake at 400 degrees F for 6 minutes, just until browned.

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Popcorn Reef

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If your kids like to play with their food, permission is granted with this fun food-art-meets-snack.

To start, pop 4 cups plain popcorn; set aside in a large bowl.

Meanwhile, melt 1 tablespoon Earth Balance butter in the microwave. Add 1 and 1/2 cups mini marshmallows (such as Dandies) to the bowl. Microwave for 1 minute until the marshmallows are melting, and whisk to combine.

Pour the marshmallow mixture over the plain popcorn. Add a few drops of food coloring for pink coral! Once the mixture cools enough to handle, turn out onto wax paper and shape into mini coral reefs. We had some big blobs that looked a bit like brain coral, and some that was more like branched coral!

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For fish, place an orange slice on each plate. Add slices of carrot for tail fins and a mouth, and blueberries for the fish’s eye (plus a few extra bubbles!).

Tricked-Out Treats

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There aren’t any neighborhood Halloween parties this year since big gatherings are a no-no, but that doesn’t mean you can’t surprise your little goblins with a party platter of tricked-out treats. To wit, we’re getting a little batty with our snacks as we get closer to Halloween. And ghosty, and spidery, and owlish, too!

For spiders, cut kiwi into rounds and arrange 8 pretzel pieces around each circle as legs.

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For ghosts, cut mini cucumbers in half lengthwise. Cut out small pieces of non-dairy cheddar slices for eyes and mouths.

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For vampire bats, spread water crackers with guacamole. Place each cracker over two blue corn tortilla chips for wings. Use additional corners of tortilla chip for fangs, and pieces of non-dairy cheddar for eyes.

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At dessert, it was time for some sweet-not-spooky owls!

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Trim rice crispy treats (such as Made Good) along one edge to form two triangles. Spread with your favorite vegan vanilla frosting, then add two creme-filled cookies (such as Newman O’s) as eyes. We had some sleepy owls and some that were wide awake! Add an almond for a beak, and your little owls are ready!

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No tricks here, just delicious treats that had the kids smiling.

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School Milk Flipbook

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Travis helped make several lunches this month thanks to his Raddish Kids Lunchtime Love crate, a perfect theme for back-to-school in September. We finished up with this lesson plan.

To start, we played “I’m going on a picnic” to get thinking about different foods in a lunchbox, particularly those that travel well. A basket of toy food as prompts helped initially, but Travis was bored after a few rounds of back-and-forth. Instead, we turned to the web for the next part of the lesson.

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Raddish provided links for a read-aloud about how common lunch foods get on the plate. Because the book was heavy on dairy, we also watched vegan-friendly videos about almond milk and soy milk.

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Next Travis got to be an author! The assignment was to make a flipbook about the journey of an almond from the tree to the carton at the store. I encouraged him to put on his imaginative cap and pretend the story was from the point of view of the almond, although this was a bit of a stretch for my first grader.

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He concentrated more on just drawing the pictures, and I added words.

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There were also fun videos to watch on school lunches around the world. Big kids can extend the lesson much further, here, perhaps by designing an international menu for their school cafeteria

For a hands-on extension, we returned to an old favorite: growing new vegetables from kitchen scraps. This works fantastically with green onions, so after we used a bunch from the store, we placed the bulbs in a small dish of fresh water. You should see new growth by morning!

Regrow Food Scraps

Finally, Travis was in charge of designing his own perfect after-school snack in Raddish’s Create-a-Snack Challenge. I showed him the list of possible ingredients, and he selected: hummus, cheese slices, tortillas, strawberries, and tomatoes. The possibilities were growing already.

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After a trip to the store, he created the following: Hummus-Cheese-Tortilla Bites.

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I loved watching him turn into a little chef as we layered hummus on small squares of tortilla, topped each with a piece of Violife cheddar, and then topped that off with tomato.

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He got fancy and added strawberries to a few. An interesting flavor combination!

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I haven’t seen him enjoy snack so much in ages, so this was a great activity on the part of Raddish.

Marshmallow Treats

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Okay, so this treat isn’t healthy and it’s only redeemable value is that your toddler will have an absolute blast with it. But sometimes that’s what snacktime calls for on a cloudy day!

I sprinkled the powder from raspberry-flavored vegan jel dessert (try Simply Delish) into a zip-top bag, and folded the edge down slightly so  Veronika could reach inside more easily.

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Then I handed her big marshmallows!

These were a novelty, since she’s only eaten the minis before. I showed her how to dip a marshmallow into the powder and then take a taste. On the first dip, your child won’t be terribly rewarded. But once the marshmallow is sticky, each dip means more dessert powder in the next bite.

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Yum!

Food Fair

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We turned snack time today into a chance for the siblings to bond! Travis gets a kick out of how messy Veronika can be when she eats, but sometimes older siblings resent the attention a messy baby or toddler receives at mealtime: help with a spoon; wiping off trays and bibs, etc. So today, Travis was in charge of Veronika’s snack! This got laughs all around.

We headed outside with a picnic blanket and a tray full of snacks. I included: applesauce, fruit pouches, chocolate pudding, juice boxes, and soft cookies.

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At first I asked Travis just to help Veronika explore the foods. Were they hot or cold? What did they taste like? Which did she like best?

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Then Travis began to make her concoctions. A simple cookie topped with a little applesauce…

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…soon became a big glob on a plate. Applesauce + pudding + juice, oh my! Travis then dipped a cookie in it and offered it to his sister for a taste with glee.

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Don’t be fooled by Veronika’s sleepy, sour expression. She kept asking for more bites!

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Travis delighted in this activity, and I loved watching them share this moment.