I caught some flak in my mailbag after my last column wherein I mentioned
that I give my kids pasta:
"I'm sure you know that the reason adults are struggling with obesity is because
as children we were fed high carbohydrate foods such as pasta. Certainly we want
a better nutritional life for them."
Well, we're all familiar with how over-consumption of high carb foods contributes
to obesity. But it's important to keep in mind that people with normal, healthy
metabolisms can incorporate moderate amounts of high carb foods into their diets.
The majority of children are not insulin resistant, and with the appropriate diet,
they need never become that way.
There's nothing inherently evil about semolina pasta, or whole grain bread; my kids
eat minimally processed grain products every day. Reasonable portions of grains
don't worry me all that much, as long as the way we're eating them is not too far
removed from how they grew. I'm more concerned and vigilant about high fructose
corn syrup and hydrogenated oils. Research shows that high fructose corn syrup
fails to trigger appetite suppressant hormones, leaving folks hungry long after
they've consumed adequate calories, and it has also been linked to a host of others
metabolic problems. As for hydrogenated oils, Dr William Sears, on his AskDrSears.com website, commented that they "are one of the biggest contributors to childhood and adult
obesity and heart disease."
In an ideal world, I'd be able to give my kids low-sugar, healthful snacks like:
- apple or pear wedges, peeled and tossed in a little orange or lemon juice
to prevent browning
- cucumber slices or pickles
- celery sticks stuffed with cream cheese
- carrot sticks or baby carrots with a small container of ranch dressing
- BabyBel mini cheeses, or cubes of cheese
- cut up melon
- strawberries with whipped cream cheese dip
Alas, with the exception of apple slices, my finicky kids simply won't eat this stuff
when they're at school. Maybe they just don't like it, but at home they'll eat it
because they know they have to. Maybe they're too distracted by socializing with their
friends. Maybe they don't have enough time to chew it all up... this list could go on
So I pack reasonable servings of chips, cookies, crackers, or pretzels in zipper sandwich
bags. Don't panic, now... I don't just grab a bag of Fritos and a box of Oreos and go. I'm
a compulsive label reader, and my kids learned early that we don't buy Chips Ahoy! because
they "have bad stuff in them."
Obviously, then, the most important criteria for a bring-to-school snack is that, whatever
it is, it must be something that they will eat. Next up, it must be something that they
can eat: not too messy, not too chewy, not too complicated.
It's important to be realistic
when sending food to school with your child. You have absolutely no control over whether
or not they will eat it, and there is no way to impose such a control. You just have to
hope for the best.
Experience has taught me that I have no choice but to send in more traditional carb-laden
snacks, or else risk having starving kids with very short attention spans and even shorter
I'm heartened by the recent trend away from trans
fats — Pepperidge Farm Goldfish Crackers now advertise that they are "trans fat free!"
even though partially hydrogenated oils are still an ingredient! The snack food
industry definitely has a way to go before they're offering truly healthy choices.
Editor's Note: Pepperidge Farm, and many other companies that proclaim trans fat free are actually
less than 1/2 gram trans fat per serving, and are not zero trans fat. In fact, they often use
unrealistically arrived at serving sizes to allow themselves this labeling freedom.
When I shop for snack foods for my kids, I look for:
- No hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated oils
- No high fructose corn syrup
- No soy protein (developing bodies don't need phytoestrogens)
- Whole grains
- Sweeteners that appear significantly late in the ingredient list
I'm consider myself lucky to be able to do the bulk of my grocery shopping at Trader
Joe's, where trans fats and high fructose corn syrup have been all but abolished and
the prices are very reasonable. When I'm away from home, I find myself shopping in the
Organic and Natural Foods sections of the supermarket; the prices are steeper but I can
generally find what I'm looking for.
Oatmeal Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Bars
Two things I don't recommend for school snacking: First, nuts of any kind, because nut
allergies seem to be more common these days, and they can be deadly. Some classrooms
even ban peanut butter. I also advise against raisins, dried fruit, fruit leathers, or
"fruit snacks." These are poor choices for snacks not just because they are nearly
100% sugar, but also because they are sticky. Eating sticky sweet foods carries the
double whammy of delivering a sugar wallop while at the same time leaving young teeth
exposed to a greater risk of decay. Better choices include more complex carbohydrates
that are more slowly absorbed and don't imperil teeth.
When I have time, I like to bake for (and with) my kids. They'll usually at least
taste something they had a hand in creating, although they oftentimes won't eat more
than that taste. In my experience, it is better to retain some healthy high carb
ingredients to improve texture and taste when baking for picky children. The recipe
below works well for children because the oatmeal, while upping the carb count considerably,
adds a delightful chewiness to the texture. So while these bars are not low carb, they
are certainly lower carb, and much better for your kids than a store-bought granola bar.
As my little ones would say, "They have no bad stuff in them!"
Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
- 1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened
- 1 cup Splenda
- 2 tablespoons blackstrap molasses
- 3 eggs
- 1 cup all natural peanut butter
- 1 tablespoon vanilla
- 1 1/4 cups vanilla whey protein powder (Designer Whey)
- 2 tablespoons vital wheat gluten flour
- 2 tablespoons oat flour
- 2 teaspoons baking soda
- ? teaspoon salt
- 3 cups quick or old fashioned oats, uncooked (not instant)
- 1 cup chocolate chips
Line a 9x13 pan with heavy-duty aluminum foil to make clean up easier.
Copyright © September 2004 Joan Hedman and Low Carb Luxury
In a large mixing bowl, beat the sweeteners into the butter until light and fluffy.
Add the eggs and vanilla and mix well.
Stir in the peanut butter.
In a separate bowl, combine the protein powder, flours, baking soda, and salt, then
add this mixture to the large bowl and mix well.
Add the oats and chocolate chips, stir well to combine.
Pour the mixture into the prepared pan, and press the dough down all around to level
it. Pay particular attention to the corners.
Bake for 15-18 minutes. Don't overbake these or they will be dry? they'll still
taste good, but you'll want to dunk them in milk!
Cool completely, then use the foil to lift the bars out of the pan. Cut with a
heavy-bladed knife, as these are quite dense. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator or freezer.
with questions, comments, or requests. Thanks!