CROMWELL, Conn. (WTNH) Back to school means back to looking for healthy snack and lunch options for many parents. Shop Rite of Cromwell’s registered dietician Mary Perrino stresses the importance of smart snacking, rather than empty calories at snack time.
“We want them to thrive at school. We want them to get through the day with enough energy. We want them to be full” says Perrino.
One of her favorites are no bake energy bites which kids can help with. Perrino combines ingredients full of whole grain, fiber, protein, vitamins and minerals like oats and dark chocolate chips (see recipe below). She also likes making healthy, nut free trail mixes that are safe to bring to schools, where there are restrictions on nut products. For that Perrino likes to use popcorn, cranberries and dark chocolate.
“People don’t know that popcorns a whole grain so it’s a great source of fiber and it’s fun for kids” she adds. Perrino says pairing a protein with a carbohydrate results in lasting energy, which can mean a better ability to concentrate throughout the school day.
And like a flu shot offers a child protection from the flu, Perrino says eating healthy options can give your body a boost. “Bell peppers actually have more vitamin c than an orange so it’s protecting your kids immune systems if you’re worried about germs” says Perrino. “Different color fruit or vegetable provides you with different antioxidants and different benefits” she adds.
Perrino not only advises co-workers and customers on healthy eating, she teachers classes for children and adults in her culinary workshop located inside Shop Rite of Cromwell.
No Bake Energy Bites: 2.5 cups of oats, 1 cup of sunflower or nut butter, ½ cup of honey, ½ cup craisins, ½ cup dark chocolate chips and 1 tsp of cinnamon. Combine nut butter and honey until smooth, add other ingredients and mix well. Roll into bite size balls and store in the refrigerator to keep firm.
Homemade Granola: 4 cups of oats, ¼ cup olive oil, ¼ cut maple syrup, ¼ cut honey, ½ cup salt, 1 tsp cinnamon, ½ tbsp. vanilla extract. Preheat oven to 400F, in a large bowl mix all ingredients. Bake for about 30-45 minutes until granola is toasted. Let sit about 15 minutes. Add shredded coconut, dried fruits, nuts, seeds and chocolate chips.
Roasted Red Pepper Hummus: 2 cans of chickpeas, 1 clove of garlic, ½ tsp paprika, ¼ tsp cumin, ¼ cup olive oil, juice from one lemon, ½ tsp salt, 1 cut roasted red peppers. Add all ingredients to a food processor and blend until smooth. Serve with pretzels, pita chips, crackers or veggies.