This week, we dropped my eldest son off at cross country running team retreat. I know, another camp! Geesh! I can barely keep it straight, and my Mama heart is getting a little anxious each night as I tuck everyone into bed and try to keep tabs on who is where and when they'll all be back under the same roof. But my boy - heading into high school in the fall - joined the cross-country team and the season starts now. Or really it started a month ago when he began training in earnest, and passing through the kitchen about a million and ten times a day to get something else to eat. As a result, he's getting into great shape, and maybe all of that has something to do with the fact that overnight he didn't just grow taller than me, but is closer to towering over me now. Oh my goodness. What a wild and strange, wonderful and weird feeling all of that is.
But back to the growing boy, and his running, and the feeding of that young athlete. Oh my gosh!!!! Feeding him!!! Friends, I've never seen anything like this in all of my life, and I see Ezra just a tiny corner around him (and threatening to be taller than his older brother already) and I wonder how on earth it is that I'll manage to keep them fed and healthy through these teen years, and provide them with good models of sustenance and energy for all these good physical things they're up to. It's a beautiful thing to behold - watching strength build and children grow.
I've been puzzling over all of that lately, trying to come up with some great grab-and-go snacks for them to have at the ready. Healthy options. Ones that don't come in a package or wrapper and send my grocery bill skyrocketing. Things that don't keep me in the kitchen all day long. And tasty things too. This week I made the bars above (these ones). I don't usually cook with coconut, as I have an allergy to it, but let's be real - these were eaten long before I could get around to trying one if I wanted to. They've been a big hit, and a nice alternative to the similar but super simple bars I make often and that I think the kids were getting a bit bored with (with raisins, soaked cashews and almonds, cashew butter, and cocoa powder).
I have Feeding the Young Athlete: Sports Nutrition Made Easy for Players, Parents and Coaches by Cynthia Lair and I need to spend some more time flipping through it and finding some things that will work for us, as I'm sure it's full of them. And just this week, I received my copy of Little Bites: 100 Healthy Kid-Friendly Snacks by Christine Chitnis and Sarah Waldman. It's a beautiful book and full of good things that I think will certainly find their way into our repertoire and fill the need for healthy, hearty snacks for kids of all ages (Annabel, as you can see, is requesting Peach Frozen Yogurt right away. I'm on it.).
(**Edited to add, for disclosure and clarity: Cynthia Lair was an earlier contributor to Taproot Magazine, and Christine has been a frequent one, in addition we share a publisher! And...you'll find one cutie patootie - aka, Harper Soule, in a photograph inside the pages of Little Bites.)
Tell me, especially parents of athletes and growing teen children with that unbelievably amazing appetite - what are your go-to healthy homemade snack options and energy boosters? I'd love to hear, and I'll be certain to share more in the coming weeks and months as I develop more of our own favorites.