Back to school means back to packing lunches and snacks. We want to pack healthier foods and avoid the highly processed, sugary, genetically modified foods, but how do we do it?
Preparing natural, homemade, on-the-go food is surprisingly easy and fun. Below are four healthy snack options, follow the links on each title for recipes.
1. Energy Bar.
This snack does not require a dehydrator, but it does require a food processor. Ingredients include almonds and/or seeds along with dried fruit. I call my recipe “The Andy Bar” after my college nickname. You can easily adapt this recipe and choose your own brand name. Be creative and have fun labeling!
The next three snacks require the use of a dehydrator or makeshift dehydrator. Snacks that are dehydrated at temperatures below 116 remain raw. Raw foods maintain their enzymes and are, therefore, healthier foods.
Your oven makes an excellent dehydrator; here’s how to use it: Set the oven at its lowest temperature. (This will probably be somewhere around 170 degrees.) Prop open the oven door to help lower the drying temperature. Place a fan in front of the oven to keep the air flowing and avoid condensation.
Virtually any fruit and any fruit combination will work. This is one of the simplest snacks to make, provided you have a food processor and an oven or dehydrator. I ferment the fruit to lower the sugar content, and my kids still love it! Feel free to be creative with additions like cinnamon, ginger, and other natural ingredients.
3. Dried Fruit
Apples, bananas, and mangoes lend themselves well to this process. Simply slice and dehydrate using your oven or dehydrator. You can maintain the color of the fruit by dipping first in lemon juice. Or you can slice and sprinkle with cinnamon and dehydrate.
The Snack Food Association says that potato chips are America’s number one snack. According to the trade group, tortilla chips rank as number two. There’s no doubt we like salt and we like crunch, but our love for convenience may come with a price. When carbohydrate-rich foods like potatoes are cooked at high temperatures — as is the case with all potato chips — a chemical by-product called acrylamide is produced. The World Health Organization acknowledges that acrylamide is a carcinogen. (See their information note, Acrylamide in Food is a Potential Health Hazard, to learn more.)
The healthy alternative to prepackaged chips? Potatoes can be safely dehydrated to preserve their nutrition and avoid acrylamides. Sweet potatoes can also be dehydrated and salted. For the most crunch and the least starch, try kale chips! Kale chips can be as simple as mixing oil and salt with freshly washed kale, or you can add flavor and nutrition by incorporating other greens, vegetables, or spices.
It’s not easy to forsake the convenience of on-the-go snacks, but with a little creative energy you may find yourself enjoying familiar foods in a whole new way!
Andrea is a former journalist and the mother of nine children ranging in age from 28 to 12. Following a massive toxic mold exposure, Andrea and her family discovered the wonders of natural living. Andrea is the founder and president of momsAWARE an educational organization designed to empower others live healthy in a toxic world. you can find Andrea on Facebook and Twitter.