While we all enjoy a decadent dessert occasionally, I try to emphasize how important healthy snacking is to my kids. I absolutely love to bake and I do a lot of baking during the different holidays and for family special occasions. For the most part, I’m really careful to watch my weight so healthy eating and exercise is something I make sure the kids know is important. Developing good eating habits is important when kids are young because they will take those healthy snacking habits with them when they’re older.
Healthy snacking doesn’t have to be boring. There are plenty of delicious things you can eat and still be healthy. During the summer, we make a lot of fresh fruit salads. We grow our own pears, raspberries and rhubarb so there is always fresh fruit of some sort to be had. When it’s in season, we go to pick your own places to pick strawberries and apples. Picking your own fruits and veggies is not only fun but it’s great exercise that results in healthy food for snacking.
There’s a lot more to healthy snacking than plain fruits and veggies. We love dipping fruits slices and veggie sticks into dips. Vegetables are great dipped in humus or a low fat dip. We love putting cream cheese on celery sticks. Apple and pear wedges taste delicious dipped into peanut butter or almond butter. Sliced strawberries are delicious dipped in organic yogurt of all sorts of flavors. You can even slice a banana in half, spread it with peanut butter and sprinkle chopped walnuts or chopped peanuts on top of it.
I often make the kids a trail mix to snack on that they really enjoy. We tend to use more dried fruits when the fresh fruits aren’t in season. I take raisins, dried cranberries, dried cherries and other dried fruits like pineapples and apricots and add pretzels, nuts, carob chips, chocolate candies and whole grain cereal pieces. If your kids like them, you can toss in pumpkin seeds or sunflower seeds into the trail mix as well. This makes a great snack because they can take it with them to school in a container or bring it in the car with them with no mess at all. I love it and they have no idea that the reason I like them to eat trail mix is because it’s so healthy for them.
Of course, every now and then I like to splurge on a decadent dessert.
Fruit topped cheesecake
- Filling Ingredients:
- 2 packages (8 ounces each) cream cheese, softened
- ⅔ cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar, divided
- 2 eggs, lightly beaten
- 1½ teaspoons vanilla
- ¼ teaspoon almond extract
- 1 cup (8 ounces) sour cream
- Crust Ingredients:
- 2 cups finely crushed Snyder’s pretzel sticks
- ¼ cup firmly packed light brown sugar
- ¾ cup melted butter
- Fruits sliced to top
- For the crust:
- Stir together all ingredients. Firmly press together mixture on bottom onto the bottom of an 8″ square baking dish. Bake at 350F for 10 to 12 minutes or until lightly browned. Remove to a wire rack and cool crust 1 hour or until completely cool before filling.
- For the filling:
- In a small bowl, beat cream cheese and ⅔ cup of sugar until smooth. Add eggs. Beat on low speed just until combined. Stir in ½ teaspoon of vanilla and the almond extract. Pour over crust and bake at 325F for 45-55 minutes or until set. Cool for 5 minutes.
- Meanwhile combine the sour cream and the remaining sugar and vanilla and spread over the filling. Bake 5 minutes more. Cool on a wire rack for one hour. Refrigerate for at least 5 hours or overnight. Slice desired fruits and place on top of the cheesecake squares. Yield 9 squares.