IT'S BROWN-BAG time again for all those kids who have been living high on summer snacks like ice cream and popsicles. Okay, maybe you were a conscientious parent who made nutritious treats such as yogurt pops or frozen bananas. Try as you might, however, these just won't work in a lunch bag.
Of course, there's always fresh fruit or sliced raw vegetables to add some zip to the omni-present sandwich. Indeed, these make ideal munchies.
But if your kids are like most, soon you're bound to hear, "I'm sick of 'rabbit' food," or "Can't I ever have a candy bar [or other assorted junk foods] like the other kids?"
There is a simple solution to this delemma. Provide your children with easy-to-fix snacks and confections that are delicious enough to satisfy any sweet tooth, but relatively healthful as well. Let the family join in the preparation, and you will have a stimulating project for a boring afternoon.
Although most of the ingredients for these goodies may be found in any supermarket, a few might require a quick visit to a health food store.
For best quality, store the completed treats in the refrigerator.Although chilling may make some of the confections a little hard to chew, they will be warmed up and just right by lunch time. CONFECTION BALLS COATINGS
Nonfat dry milk powder (surprisingly sweet and attractive), wheat germ, unprocessed bran flakes, ground nuts or seeds, whole sesame seeds, unsweetened shredded coconut, ground toasted soybeans or soya granules (not soy grits), or carob powder.
Choose any of the above coatings for the "confection balls" that follow. Coatings not only keep these treats from sticking to each other, they add an appealing look as well. In fact, it's easy to greatly increase the taste and visual variety of the balls simply by using different coatings.
If you are in a hurry when making the confections, it is not necessary to roll them into balls. Just press the prepared mixture into a very lightly oiled pan and chill. Then cut into squares. Coatings may be patted on top before chilling, if desired. ALMOST NO-COOK FUDGE BALLS (about 3 dozen) 1/2 cup peanut butter (preferably crunchy) 1/2 cup honey 1/2 cup carob powder 1/4 cup wheat germ 1/4 cup soya granules or chopped toasted soybeans (not soy grits) 1/2 cup unsalted sunflower seeds or chopped nuts 1 teaspoon vanilla extract 1/4 to 1/3 nonfat dry milk powder
In a medium saucepan, heat peanut butter with honey until mixture is thinned. Remove from heat, then add carob powder and mix well, pressing out any lumps. Add remaining ingredients. Knead with a wooden spoon until cool and manageable. If still sticky, add a little more milk powder.
Form fudge into 1-inch diameter balls and roll in your choice of the coatings listed above. Store in refrigerator, but allow to warm to room temperature before eating. One snack serving is two or three balls. NUTTY FRUIT BALLS (about 3 dozen) 1/2 cup pitted prunes (12 to 14) 1/2 cup pitted dates (16 to 20) 1/2 cup dried figs, stem removed (8 to 10) 1/2 cup dried apricots (number depends on size) 1/2 cup shelled walnuts or other nuts 1/4 cup wheat germ 2 tablespoons honey
Put the first five ingredients through a food grinder in the order listed (the nuts help push the sticky things out). Or chop finely in a food processor. (Or, lacking either piece of equipment, chop finely by hand.) Mix well. Add the wheat germ and honey; then mix until well combined.
Form fruit-nut mixture into one-inch diameter balls and roll in your choice of the coatings listed above. Store in refrigerator but, for best taste, allow to warm to room temperature before eating. One snack serving is two or three balls. NUTTERLY EDIBLE PLAYDOUGH (about 2 dozen balls or assorted shapes) 2/3 cup peanut butter 1 cup nonfat dry milk powder 1/3 to 1/2 cup honey 2 tablespoons or more toasted sesame seeds (optional)
Mix peanut butter and milk powder together with smaller amount of honey. Knead with your hands or a wooden spoon until dough is smooth and malleable. If it seems too dry, add more honey. If desired, knead in sesame seeds to add a little crunch. (Or, you can use crunchy peanut butter rather than smooth.)
Form "playdough" into one-inch diameter balls or any other shapes that strike your fancy. When you are done playing with dough, roll in your choice of the coatings listed above. Store in refrigerator, but allow to warm to room temperature before eating. One snack serving is two or three balls, or one "masterpiece." DATE-GRANOLA DELIGHT BALLS (about 2 dozen) 2 tablespoons butter 1 tablespoon honey 1/2 cup chopped dates 3/4 cup granola 3 tablespoons nonfat dry milk powder
In a medium saucepan, heat butter and honey until butter is melted. Add dates and continue heating, constantly stirring, until dates are sort of "melted" as well. Remove from heat, then stir in granola and milk powder until completely combined.
When cool enough to handle, form mixture into one-inch diameter balls and roll in your choice of the coatings listed above. Store in refrigerator, but allow to warm to room temperature before eating. One snack serving is two or three balls. DANDY BRAN BARS (16 squares)
Not really a cake nor a confection, these unusual bars make a chewy, high-fiber snack that's quite yummy. 1 cup unprocessed bran flakes 1 cup rolled oats 3/4 cup chopped walnuts 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon 1/2 teaspoon baking soda 1/2 teaspoon salt (optional) 1 cup chopped dates 2 large eggs 1/2 cup plain yogurt 1/2 cup vegetable oil 1/2 cup honey
In a medium mixing bowl, combine bran, oats, walnuts, cinnamon, baking soda and salt (if desired). Mix in chopped dates. In a smaller bowl, lightly mix eggs, yogurt, oil and honey. Pour this into dry ingredients and mix until completely combined. Turn out into a well-greased 8-inch square pan, spreading evenly.
Bake in a preheated 325 degree oven for 45 minutes. Cool and cut into squares. (Note: These bars hold together better and are easier to handle the day after they are made. They freeze well.) One snack serving is one or two bars.