A recent article on the importance of home cooking caused us to start thinking if all the snack foods we had in our pantry were doing our body’s a disservice and you won’t believe what we discovered!
Parents normally try to do what’s best for their children but are often unaware of the damages being done by some of the snacks available. Certain petroleum-based snacks can cause severe ADHD, nervous system damage, and kidney damage. YIKES! But the good news is that there are alternatives.
Setting foot in any grocery store leaves you surrounded by what some have come to call “food-like products.” Sure there are vegetables and fruits and meats available, but just take a quick glance at the shopping carts of others the next time you’re there to get an idea of what the average American eats. It is truly frightening. And it’s even worse when it comes to kids’ foods. The snack foods that are marketed for children can have anything from cancer-causing artificial coloring to the unbelievable, petroleum products! Not to mention most are loaded with sugar.
BAD Snack #1
Pop-Tarts – These toaster pastries were first introduced in 1964. The Frosted Strawberry flavor has corn syrup, high fructose corn syrup, dextrose and sugar within the first 6 ingredients! These are all forms of harmful sugar too. The other alarming ingredients are TBHQ which comes from petroleum and is related to butane, partially hydrogenated soybean oil that causes cellular dysfunction, and cancer-causing artificial colors.
GOOD Snack Alternative #1
Strawberry Cereal bars – Instead of buying processed petroleum-based and sugar-loaded pop tarts, try making some strawberry cereal bars! When you make your own snacks and food at home, YOU control what ingredients go into them and eventually go into your child’s body. You can keep the sugar to a minimum and these bars are still delicious! Click the link below to read an excellent recipe:
BAD Snack #2
Fruit Snacks/Roll-ups – not only are these snacks chock full of nasty processed sugars, they contain little fruit and nutritional value. These are actually mostly artificial colors and flavors smashed together to make a food-like product that kids find unavoidable.
GOOD Snack #2
Homemade fruit leathers – these are a staple in our house! We don’t ever add any sugar, because fruit has sugar in the form of fructose anyway, but if you want it a little sweeter, sprinkle on some monk fruit instead. The joy of making these yummy fruit leathers at home is again, you control what is going into the snacks that will nourish your child. I’ve also found it’s a great way to get kids involved in their nutrition. Let them choose the fruit and let them help with the steps that they can do. They are curious by nature and will want to try what they had a hand in creating. Here’s a great recipe to get you started:
Bad Snack #3
Cheetos – these are almost a staple in an American child’s diet anymore. But these can do damage to kids’ nervous systems and kidneys. The artificial color that creates the “cheese” color is made from Yellow 6, which we know is derived from petroleum. As is the “cheese” flavoring, including, methyl benzoate and ethyl methylphenidate. Sadly, those delicious Cheetos are pretty much garbage.
Good Snack #3
Homemade Cheese Crackers – instead of the fake cheese colors and flavors of Cheetos, grab the kids and make some cheese crackers at home!
- ¼ cup (½ stick) butter, at room temperature
- 1¾ cups shredded Cheddar cheese
- ½ teaspoon sea salt, plus a bit more to sprinkle on top
- ¾ cup all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
- 2 tablespoons milk
*Add extra seasonings for different cracker flavors. Red pepper flakes, taco seasoning, or ranch dressing mix will add flair to this recipe.
1. In a bowl, cream the butter, cheese, and salt together until completely blended. Add the flour and mix until the dough is soft and crumbly. Add 1 tablespoon of milk at a time until the dough comes together.
2. Refrigerate the dough, covered, for 1 hour.
3. Preheat the oven to 350°F.
4. On a floured surface, roll the chilled dough to a thickness of about ⅛ inch. Divide in half. On a piece of parchment paper, roll half of the dough into a very thin rectangle 12 x 9 rectangle. Cut into 1-inch squares, using a pizza cutter; arrange on parchment paper and lift the sheet of parchment onto a baking sheet. Repeat with the other half of the dough.
Using a fork or toothpick, poke holes in the center of each cracker and sprinkle with salt.
6. Bake for 10 for 15 minutes, or until the crackers are puffed up and beginning to brown on the edges. Transfer the crackers to a wire rack or plate to cool. When completely cool, store in an airtight container.
If for some reason your kids just have to have Cheetos, here’s a recipe we found online that looks pretty darn close.
BAD Snack #4
M&Ms – These candies are made with artificial colors out the wazoo! The colors utilized are, Blue #2, which is a petroleum-based product that increases hyperactivity in children. Blue #1, which produces malignant tumors. Red #40, which damages DNA. Yellow #6 which can cause cancer and Yellow #5. All of these artificial colors are made from petroleum and can cause, in addition, allergic reactions, hyperactivity, and cancer.
GOOD Snack #4
Healthy Chocolate – Kids love candies! I’ve found a great NO SUGAR Reese’s peanut butter cup recipe that my kids absolutely love. They are technically keto-friendly and dairy-free too! Just melt 1/4 coconut oil in a bowl. Add 1/2 cup peanut butter and 1/4 cup cocoa powder. Mix it all up and sprinkle in some monk fruit to sweeten to your liking. Pour them into little silicone molds and stash in the freezer. They will melt if they get too warm, but the kids don’t hold them long enough for that to happen at my house! They are so similar to Reese’s peanut butter cups but without the guilt, sugar, or dairy.
I don’t want to be known for taking candy away from kids, so here are some more healthy chocolate treat ideas:
BAD Snack #5
Teddy Grahams – These have been around since 1988 and are available in 5 different flavors. These cute bears are a great size for even small fingers but they are laced with the dreaded TBHQ. TBHQ can be toxic and also cause nausea, vomiting, ringing in the ear, delirium, and collapse. It is shown to cause stomach cancer in lab rats, fragment DNA, and cause damage to human lungs and umbilical cells. In children, it can cause anxiety, restlessness, and intensify the symptoms of ADHD
GOOD Snack #5
Homemade Grahm Crackers – Teddy Grahams could easily be replaced with delicious homemade graham crackers. We published this recipe in The Prepper’s Cookbook:
- ¼ cup vegetable shortening
- ¾ cup packed light brown sugar
- 1 ½ teaspoons vanilla extract (here’s a recipe for homemade extract)
- 1 ½ cups whole wheat flour
- ½ all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- ½ teaspoon baking soda
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- ½ cup milk
- 2 tablespoons honey
- In a medium bowl, cream together the shortening and brown sugar with a spoon. Stir in vanilla.
- In a large bowl, combine the whole wheat and all-purpose flours, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon. Beat into the creamed mixture alternately with the milk. Stir in honey, if using. Cover and chill until firm.
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease two baking sheets.
- On a lightly floured surface, roll the dough to a 1/8-inch thickness. Cut into 2-inch rectangles for mini graham crackers or cut into 4-inch rectangles for traditional sized Grahams. Place ½ inch apart on the prepared cookie sheet.
- Bake for 10-12 minutes until crisp.
- Remove from the baking sheet to cool on racks.
Remember, if you make these snacks at home YOU are in control. If you don’t like an ingredient, replace it with one that you do. If you are cutting back on sugar, don’t add any at all and see if you like the taste, or use monk fruit. If you are trying to go dairy-free, substitute milk for coconut milk. You can try and experiment with all of these recipes until you achieve the right balance of ingredients for your palate.
Plus, your kids will love helping you make their snacks. Mine do! And we use that time in the kitchen to bond and talk about our days.