I have a 2-year-old who spends most Saturdays, and I don’t mean just an hour here or an hour there, at her older brothers’ sporting events. Such is the life of a third child, especially one who joined the family almost a decade later than her siblings.
Instead of fighting the fact that she eats countless meals on a blanket and not at a table, I am embracing it by compiling a roster of healthful foods that she can eat on the sidelines.
For a food to make my roster, it must meet a few criteria. It must not be messy, as I don’t want to wash her picnic blanket every Saturday. It must be transportable, tasty at room temperature and, of course, healthful. Anyone with a toddler knows how much they insist on doing things on their own, so my daughter must be able to eat these foods without needing to master the art of the fork. And if she is happily feeding herself, I can have one eye on the field, which means I can tell my boys that, in fact, I did see that fabulous play they made.
Brown rice balls match all of these criteria. The brown rice offers iron, B vitamins, fiber and minerals such as manganese, selenium and magnesium.
The sesame seeds are tiny in size, but they aren’t small on nutrition. They provide nutrients that our bodies need for proper functioning, especially calcium, magnesium, iron, phosphorous, zinc, Vitamin B1 and fiber. The fibers in sesame seeds have been shown to lower cholesterol levels and prevent high blood pressure.
If made with mashed black beans, they tender a nice dose of protein, too.
So pack these for your next sporting event or road trip, or in your child’s lunchbox. I made these for my daughter’s preschool class and went home with an empty plate.
Seidenberg is co-founder of Nourish Schools, a D.C.-based nutrition education company.