Healthy, Easy Snacks For Fall

This article was featured in SMRT Parenting on October 21, 2014.

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With the arrival of Autumn, the crisp, cool air brings pumpkin-flavored everything and the end of watermelons and barbeques. Suddenly, lazy days of summer are replaced by schooldays and hectic schedules full of carpooling, sporting events, and extracurricular activities. There is a new kind of strain on the family as everyone is feeling rushed.

The Stash
Come Fall, sit-down meals become fantasy and the snack stash becomes reality. Busy Moms at the wheel are handing out breakfast, lunch and dinner from stashes on passenger seats. There are baggies of pretzels waiting in purses for opportune moments. Babysitters and grandparents are armed, ready to hand out raisins to younger siblings confined to observation decks at gymnastics meets.

But snacks are not just a way to give sustenance. By giving snacks, parents hope to nurture and give comfort. Even so, many agree that empty-calorie choices are more tempting and readily available (and also more embarrassing to be seen with in public!).

The Quest
Thus, parents are on the lookout for that protein-packed, portable, kid-friendly food that is healthy, but tasty, and does not require slaving in the kitchen.

Found it.

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The Muffin is the all-in-one meal, simple to prepare, design, and eat. The muffin is delicious and healthful, not to mention, wholesome enough to ease any guilt over the sacrificed family meals of summer.

The Alternative Snack Stash
From my experience, having a stash of homemade muffins in the freezer, waiting to be toted to soccer practice, feels a million times better than the alternative bag/bar/box of empty carbs.

You don’t have to be Betty Crocker. Just whip up the ingredients and plop them into a bowl. Twenty minutes later, you are not only a “homemaker,” but your kitchen smells fabulous.

The muffin of today is the casserole of yesteryear and lessens the load of busy Moms everywhere who can rest assured that their kids are munching on nutrition. Choose from pumpkin cream cheese, turkey meatloaf, sweet potato, or corn dog muffins. There’s no more casually handing out fast foods! Instead, you have a chicken potpie muffin for the back of the minivan.

The Possibilities are Endless
If you like a certain food, muffinize. And while you’re at it, make it healthy!

Muffinize [muh-fin-ahyz] (v.) to make a muffin out of
If you don’t like banana, choose another fruit. If you don’t have raspberries, add blueberries. If you want fiber, bake with oats or bran. There is whole wheat, if you bake organic. If your child is allergic to nuts, leave them out. If you like pizza and tuna melts but don’t want the mess, start muffinizing!

Portability
Muffins fit neatly into little hands and perfectly into the on-the-go lifestyle of grownups. Freeze a batch over the weekend and you’re a microwave minute from breakfast during the week. Now, you’ve got a mess-free package that won’t ruin the upholstery. You’ve got a protein-packed pocket to eat anywhere, including the sidelines of older brother’s karate tournament.

A Fun Way to Enjoy Familiar Foods
Muffinizing inspires us to rejuvenate tired foods. The crunchy top of a multi-textured macaroni and cheese muffin urges the child to enjoy a new pasta experience. The tired PB & J sandwich comes alive in a peanut butter muffin with a surprise jelly center. Carrot muffins are loaded with nutrients from carrots, pineapple, and walnuts. Crustless quiche muffins are full of (loathed) vegetables but I have yet to find my son picking spinach from his. Use the abundance of Fall to make muffins from pumpkin and sweet potatoes. Sprinkle dried cranberries into turkey meatloaf muffins for Thanksgiving dinner. Express yourself by thinking of new, different, tasty combinations.

Muffins bring smiles. In the car or as a gift, muffins are the epitome of snacks. A platter of muffins makes a unique impression, and eating muffins…goes without saying (yum).

For nutritious Fall muffin recipes, go to www.MuffinMama.org.

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