Culinary columnist Chef Dez offers his advice and recipes to Langley Advance readers.

Chef Dez: (Healthy) snack time ideas

If parents make wise choices, their kids can be eating healthy and not even know it.

Here we are, once again at the start of another school year. Packing kids lunches is a chore for many, and sometimes one can lose sight of nutritional value due to heavily marketed convenience foods.

School-time snacks and lunches are not exactly the best avenue to practise “gourmet cuisine,” but I do get asked on occasion for some healthy ideas.

Therefore, this column will be my salute to parents who are willing to say “no” to pre-packaged, high-preservative foods for their children.

Nuts are a very nutritious option, as long as allergy restrictions aren’t a concern. Nuts are a good source of protein and a great source of unsaturated fat (the good kind of fat).

Unsaturated fats have been proven to help reduce levels of LDL-cholesterol (the bad cholesterol) without lowering HDL-cholesterol (the good one). Unsaturated fats are best described as the ones that are liquid at room temperature, while saturated fats are solid.

Additionally, there are a large variety of nuts to choose from for discriminating tastes: almonds, cashews, peanuts, etc. and some are even available with different flavourings to make them more appealing – just keep your eye on the sodium content and other ingredients.

Fresh fruit is an obvious choice, but make sure it is something that they enjoy, to increase the probability of consumption!

One thing you can do to make fruit more tempting is do some of the prep ahead of time. For example, a cut and/or peeled orange is much easier to eat than a whole orange.

Make it interesting – don’t always send the same fruit. Every once in a while, pack some berries, seasonal fruit, or something more exotic like kiwi or star fruit.

The ease of eating dried fruit makes it an attractive option, as well. There are so many naturally dried fruit options that do not contain additional sugar, that it is easy to make their lunch interesting for them.

There are dried plums, apples, apricots, pineapple, mango, and banana to name a few, and they are healthier substitutions for pre-packaged fruit rolls.

Carbohydrate type snack options could be granola bars or popcorn. When purchasing granola bars, read the ingredients to monitor the amount of preservatives and refined sugar they have. Do not choose chocolate covered ones as they defeat the purpose of making a healthy choice to begin with. Also the harder granola bars are usually healthier than the softer ones. Popcorn, as long as it not drenched in butter, is a great option and a good source of fiber. It is obviously okay (and recommended) that our children consume fat in their diets as it is all part of brain development. Fat intakes should be monitored but not eliminated.

Whole-wheat crackers are another healthy option. Again this may require reading a few labels, but a perfect opportunity to replace amounts of white flour in their diets with whole wheat. For those of you who have time, there are even cracker recipes that you can prepare together with your children at home. The appeal of whole-wheat crackers will be much greater with the pride that comes along with making them. Throw in some slices of cheese as part of their dairy intake, along with some lean meat slices or tuna salad for their own homemade “snack-packs”.

I am not a dietitian, and these suggestions are merely that. I feel that is our job as parents to keep educated. Contacting a dietitian, for proper moderations for your children’s balanced diets of all the food groups, is highly recommended.

Dear Chef Dez:

Keeping perishables cool in my child’s lunch box is a concern. I have tried sending ice packs but I don’t always get them back – you know how kids are! Any suggestions?

Dawn M., Surrey

Dear Dawn:

An easy and inexpensive way to do this is to freeze juice boxes. One or two frozen juices in their lunch will keep things cool for the morning and will make a great chilled drink by noon. The addition of a thermal lunch bag works great too.

Chef Dez is a food columnist and culinary instructor in the Fraser Valley. Visit him at www.chefdez.com. Send questions to dez@chefdez.com or to P.O. Box 2674, Abbotsford, B.C. V2T 6R4

Just Posted

Langley Thunder stop Shamrocks

The local lacrosse season is close to wrapping up.

Throwback Thursday: July 19, 2018

Can you help us caption a photo from Langley’s past?

Our View: Location matters when it comes to candidates

Those running for civic office should live in the community they want to represent.

Looking Back: July 19, 2018

The community’s history, as seen through the files of the Langley Advance.

Have you seen this missing Langley man?

Peter Webb hasn’t been seen by his family in more than 10 days.

BC Games: Dance, spoken-word highlights at Opening Ceremony in Cowichan

Hundreds of athletes and thousands of volunteers, coaches, parents and officials

B.C. city wants pot punted from farmland

Concerned about conversion from growing food to making marijuana

World’s translators push back on forcing Trump interpreter to testify

Democrats had asked translator to testify about Trump’s lengthy conversation with Putin in Helsinki

No decision on B.C. school stabbing suspect’s mental fitness for trial

The BC Review Board could not determine whether Gabriel Klein, 21, is fit to stand trial

Canadian government threatens to retaliate if Trump imposes auto tariffs

U.S president had suggested that auto imports pose a national security risk to the U.S.

Abbotsford’s Besse sisters: Vaulting to greatness at Summer Games

Local siblings heading to Cowichan to compete in equestrian

Wildfire evacuation order forces bride to search for new wedding venue

Fitzpatrick Family Vineyards is under an order due to the Mount Eneas wildfire south of Peachland

Recent online kitten abuse video raises serious social media questions

UBC and UFV profs weigh in on the subject of online sharing, shaming, and our digital landscape

UPDATED: ICBC fights back against claims that it’s ‘ripping off’ B.C. RV drivers

Canadian Taxpayers Federation is urging the provincial government to open up ICBC to competition

Most Read