As a holistic nutrition coach who is focused on educating and empowering my clients to understand how food, stress, balance and lifestyle play significant factors in our overall health, I’m very honest and realistic when answering hard questions from parents about good food choices for their picky eaters. I fully comprehend the level of difficulty in providing for our children (from within the kitchen) given the world in which we live. There is less time and more pressure to get everything accomplished in a day. Our demands as working parents (working as our children’s advocates, volunteering on multiple boards, and/or working in the traditional workspace) can be highly stressful and the expectation remains that we continue to cook homemade meals. I acknowledge how challenging this reality is. Some people hate to cook, while others have children who refuse to eat what’s placed in front of them, and so that dynamic usually leads to acquiescing, giving up and giving in to whatever our children want at every snack and every meal to avoid conflict and food wars. I don’t judge others for their choices rather, I provide the most practical and useful advice I can to encourage my clients to not give up on their quest for better health for their families.
What I can confidently claim is the consequence of this cycle is our children are relying on way too much processed food that can make up for more than 70 percent of their calories. These calories are nutrient poor and do not provide real sustainable fuel for their cells and organs to operate. There is absolutely a correlation between food and function, how individuals sleep, behave, think and react. And while on the whole many kids remain relatively “healthy” this is a relative term. So much more than we realize is going on beneath the skin’s surface driving the fate of our DNA in years to come. And this is precisely why as a parent I make it a priority to continue to cook with my kids, and to build time into my calendar to plan, shop, cook and rotate the foods that make it to my family’s plate.
One common question I receive is “which are your favorite snacks to give your girls?” My response is twofold. First, don’t always think of snacks as having to be unwrapped, contained within a box, located in the center isles of the food store. In other words, we must as parents, teach our children to associate nourishing hungry bodies with foods from the earth. Think raw fruit, chopped up sweet vegetables, wholesome crackers with nut-butter spreads (should allergies not be an issue), home-made trail mixes, organic cheeses or yogurts and or small portions of leftovers from dinner. I keep it simple, whatever you feed at meal time (which is usually protein and fiber) give them a little bit of this in between meals to hold them over! Secondly, if you are to give a “wrapped” snack, at least ensure the ingredients are clean. Free of GMOs (genetically modified foods) organic (free of pesticides, fertilizers, toxins, artificial colors.) Thankfully food stores are carrying more options then ever and Whole Foods has many of the traditional snack foods in clean form. When making these popcorn balls with and for my children, I am able to use NON-GMO corn kernels, marshmallows free of dyes, and organic butter and dried fruit.
Think of these popcorn balls as a healthy alternative to rice crispy treats. They’re sweet, salty, fun to make and quite beautiful! They can be packed in school lunches or enjoyed as an after school snack or after dinner treat. We chose dried blueberries and dried mangos to add sweetness to the balls (Target carries all these dried fruit options), but feel free to use mini chocolate chips, raisins and sunflower seeds. Get creative!
I’m into portion control these days, you could definitely eat these popcorn balls as just straight up marshmallow popcorn but I kind of like to have more of the “single” serving frame of mind which is an important part of my coaching conversations.
These marshmallow popcorn balls are literally super easy and the kids just go crazy for them! I hope you give these a try and let me know how it goes with your clan!
Sweet & Salty Popcorn Balls
Makes 12 - 16
· 2 bags popcorn popped (NON-GMO corn kernels)
· 2 Tbs. organic salted butter
· 1 10 Oz. bag mini marshmallows
· 1 tsp. vanilla
· ¼ cup dried blueberries
· ¼ cup chopped dried mango
· Pop popcorn and place in large bowl, remove all the unpopped seeds and set aside.
· In large sauce pan melt your butter, once melted stir in your marshmallows and stir until they are melted and smooth then stir in your vanilla.
· Pour over your popcorn and toss to coat making sure you get all the kernels coated. Add your mango and blueberries (or whatever add-ins you chose).
· Let cool slightly and then spray your hands with non-stick cooking spray and grab enough popcorn to make about baseball to softball sized balls and gently press together.
· Place them atop some cupcake liners and wrap them up in some little goodie bags and you have yourself one fun treat.
CHRISSY DAVENPORT Revitalize & Nourish
Board Certified Holistic Health Coach, AADP, MBA
North Caldwell Resident