Welcome to Vanessa's Snack Tips!
This section is designed to help those interested in providing healthy snacks in the classroom, at camps, or afterschool programs. For tips on serving and saving money, please read on!
NOTE: ALWAYS FIND OUT ABOUT POTENTIAL ALERGIES, SOME PEOPLE HAVE FRUIT OR VEG ALERGIES!
To obtain low-cost produce, you may want to try buying in bulk. You can do this several ways. A few suggestions are setting up a Wholeshare account. You will need a coordinator, and a small mark-up can be used to compensate this person or can go towards fundraising for your snacks. You will also need a place to receive the order, and a few people making orders ahead of time for each order. You can also try contacting Eddydale Farms and GreenStar and ask them about purchasing cases of produce. For reference, if 3 classrooms of 18 children shared a case of oranges at $20, they could serve a serving of oranges to all of the children for 2 days.
Depending on the season, it may make sense for you to join a Community Supported Agriculture share, or a CSA. Healthy Food For All, a collaborating partner of ICH, has low cost and subsidised CSA shares available. Learn more at their website, and contact them if interested.
Once you have your produce, here are some Tips for Preparation
You will need a sink with clean water, a colander, a large bowl, a clean surface, a vegetable brush, sponges and dishsoap, knives and cutting boards, and possibly food service gloves. Always make sure hands, equiptment, and prep surfaces are clean and hair is short or tied back.
1) Always wash produce thoroughly, even if it is organic. Rinse thoroughly with cold water. Sepearate celery stalks before rinsing. Scrub apples, root veggies, and other hard produce with a vegetable brush. Rinse melon, oranges, etc. well even if you will not serve rinds because the knife can drag germs through to the food.
2) For a class size of 18 the following averaged sized pieces of produe will create one serving of snack per child: 7-9 apples , 7-9 oranges, 2 heads of celery, 2-3 heads of broccoli or cauliflower, 1 medium melon, 7-9 bell peppers, 2-3 bundles of kale, 1-2 lb. greens, 3-5 beets.
3) Root veggies can be scrubbed thoroughly, and depending on condition, peeled. They can be sliced thinly like chips or in matchsticks. Always cut away from yourself.
4) Greens can be sprinkled with the juice of an orange to decrease bitterness and increase vitamin C and iron absorption.
5) Fruit can be cut into 1 or 2 inch square pieces.
6) Chop any undesireable parts off of the produce such as bruises, leafy tops, and tough parts of celery. If there is a spot of mold and you aren't sure, cut off that part of the produce and sample a tiny piece. Sometimes the rest is fine, sometimes it tastes bad. Always taste away from the prep area and wash hands or change gloves afterwards. Celery can be cut down the middle and then chopped into 3 inch sticks.
7) To keep apples fresh and from turning brown, immerse them in a bowl of very cold water. You can add a few tsp. of lemon juice, but this is not necessary. Let them sit for a minute or longer, then drain the water.
8) Encourage children to be creative. They often come up with fun ways to eat snack, such as making a 'burrito' out of a lettuce leaf and putting their fruit inside, etc.
9) Some kids will eat spicy foods, such as mustard greens. Always tell them ahead of time.... they will not be happy to be surprised by this. If you ask them with wide eyes if they like spicy things, some kids will always want to test themselves and have fun with it. Also, whoever knows they do not like spicy food can avoid it. If you serve spicy food, have an alternative for those not interested.
10)Sprinkle cinnamon on apples to add flavor. You can also add herbs like basil or mint to snacks on the side. Basil goes well with pineapple, for example. Mint goes well with berries or cucumber.
Other combination ideas:
Hakuri (sweet white) turnips and pears
Cucumbers and Melon
Oranges or other Citrus and Mild Greens such as Baby Spinach or Pac Choi, Kale, or Field Mix
Apples and Carrots or Beets
Email us for more suggestions, or if you want to share your favorite produce combinations!