At my mum’s house she has a large pull out drawer filled with sixteen glass jars. Each jar has a different nut, seed or dried fruit in it. Often you will see one of her grandchildren grab a bowl, (asking first) and head to the nut drawer for a snack. This is usually followed by a couple more grandchildren. They head there like little meerkats – deciding what to choose, and excitedly opening and closing the jars. It’s really quite sweet watching them filling their bowls, and it tickles me every time thinking about how nuts they go for nuts (sorry, I couldn’t help myself). My boys love her crystallised ginger the best, which is way too strong for my taste buds!
Win and Ru are always peckish after the school run, and having a ‘nut pick ‘n’ mix’ in our home helps me to fill the hour and a half gap in their bellies, between getting home from school and eating dinner. Mine isn’t as extensive as my mum’s – I have 8 jars, but it still does the job. Win and Ru tell me their requests and I get it for them, or I get all of the jars down from the cupboard and they just go for it. Sometimes they take ages deciding what combination they would like, and sometimes they just know exactly what they fancy.
I don’t keep any obvious ‘kids snacks’ in our house (other than baby snacks), because aside from being overpriced, many of them don’t have a gram of goodness in them. I just can’t do it (!) and sometimes I hate that I am so extreme. Nuts, seeds and dried fruit contain an unbelievable amount of nutrients, healthy fats and trace minerals, that they are such a good option for children – as long as you’re confident that they won’t choke, and don’t have any allergies. Slightly major considerations.
You may feel like your kids are a million miles away from enjoying nuts and seeds, but dried fruit, chia seeds sprinkled on porridge, toasted nuts in stir fry, or fruit smoothies with nuts may be good starting points.
Here are some ideas for your ‘nut pick ‘n’ mix’. I’ve added some of the vitamins and trace minerals that they contain too:
- cashew nuts – iron, zinc, magnesium
- pistachio nuts – vitamin B6, antioxidants, potassium, fibre
- walnuts – omega 3, lower cholesterol, anticancer
- pecan nuts – sterols, oleic acid, vitamin B3, antioxidants
- dried cranberries – vitamin C, vitamin A, vitamin K
- raisins – antioxidants, fibre, potassium
- dried mango – vitamin C, vitamin A
- pumpkin seeds – manganese, phosphorus, magnesium, copper, zinc, iron
- sunflower seeds – vitamin C, copper, vitamin B1, manganese, selenium
- dates – copper, magnesium, manganese, vitamin B6
- flaked coconut – vitamin C, vitamin E, vitamin B1, B3, B5, B6, phosphorus
- almond nuts – calcium, vitamin E, flavonoids