By Cassidy Barbeau (Pura Vida Pantry Cookbook)
July 18, 2011
You might think that the terms “raw” and “vegan” don’t lend themselves to describing scrumptious children’s treats. It is not only possible but easy to feed your children nutritious, delicious, wholesome snacks that you will love to make, and they will love to eat!
I never thought too much about eating this way until I became a mother. Processed foods were an everyday part of my upbringing, but I wanted something better for my kids. It set me on a path of creating healthy snacks and goodies that help build healthy bodies, fuel my kids on the playground, and balance out their emotions.
Few things pump me up as much as watching my kids chow down on Bliss Balls, beg for Superhero Pudding, or ask me if they can help make a batch of PB Chewy Bars. Raw, vegan and vegetarian treats are my passion, and with all the nutrition they provide for the whole family, they are also a guilt-free pleasure!
We live in the beautiful tropical paradise of Costa Rica, and I have an array of glorious fresh produce at my fingertips. But these recipes can be made using ingredients readily available to most home cooks.
Banana Cream Pie Smoothie
2 big, ripe bananas
2 TBSP soaked chia seeds
1/2 Cup Macadamias
1 Cup Almond Milk
2 Tbsp Coconut Shreds
2 Tsp Organic Vanilla
2 Tbsp Maple Syrup or Agave
2-3 Ice Cubes
2 Tbsp Slivered Almonds or Chopped Walnuts for "Crust" Topping
Dash of Cinnamon
Soak your chia seeds in 1/4 Cup water or almond milk. Allow them to form a gel which will give your smoothie a custard-y taste. Pour almond milk in the blender, then add all ingredients except for the last 2. Blend until creamy & thick. Pour into fountain glass and sprinkle nuts on top. Add a dash of cinnamon & voila! A creamy Banana Cream Pie Smoothie! This is a fun one to make during kid's birthday parties, and allow the kids to express their individuality via an array of different toppings!
Variation: Add a couple tablespoons of cocoa powder to make it a chocolate banana cream pie smoothie!
Different toppings for a Children's Banana Pie Smoothie Party include: Fresh Fruit, Chopped Walnuts & Macadamias, Slivered Almonds, Granola, Wheat Germ, Chopped Dates, Shredded Coconut.
Hint: Use a Tbsp of fresh beet juice to dye the coconut shreds pink, spinach juice to dye them green, blueberries to make blue shreds, etc. This makes the party more exciting!
My raw Bliss Balls are my favorite sneaky trick to getting my strong-willed 5 year old Paisley to willingly eat more fruit in her lunch. Bliss Balls are packed with protein from the almonds, and full of fiber from the dates, which also provide energy-fueling carbohydrates and have more potassium than bananas. These bliss balls resemble fudge, at least to my vegetarian babies.
1.5 cup almonds
1/2 cup cocoa
2 cup dates
2 tsp coconut, plus more for rolling (optional)
enough water to make it sticky
Grind nuts in a food processor. Add in dates, cocoa and coconut. Blend until mixed, then slowly add in water until the mixture is sticky but stays together. Roll into golf ball-sized balls, and cover with shredded coconut. These remain fresh in an air-tight container for a week.
Superhero Pudding (raw)
Chia seeds add a custard-like texture to smoothies and are fabulous when added to granola and oats in the mornings. They’re an incredible source of calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, potassium, iron, zinc, & copper. Chia seeds contain 6 times more calcium, 11 times more phosphorus, and nearly 5 times more potassium per 100g serving of cow’s milk. They also boast 6 times more iron per 100g than spinach, and a super high protein composition (19-23%).
2 ½ TBSP Chia Seeds
1.5 Cups Almond Milk
1 TSP Vanilla Extract
1 liberal Dash Cinnamon
2 TBSP Honey or Maple Syrup
Dash Sea Salt
Simply mix all ingredients in a bowl, and let is sit for about half an hour. At first it will seem like liquid, but soon the chia seeds will be hard at work absorbing all the milk. Fluff with a fork every so often and you will be surprised when a gelatinous mixture appears. Once you try this, you may not go back to rice pudding ever again!
This is a favorite in my daughter’s lunch. I am not the biggest fan of bread, but pita bread has some noteworthy nutrients, including being an excellent source of thiamin, riboflavin, niacin and folate. It also packs well in a lunch.
1 pita (whole wheat, spelt, or other whole grain)
¼ Cup Cashew Ricotta
3 TBSP Sunflower Seeds
1 half avocado, sliced in long strips, and or apple, sliced
Drizzle of Honey
Cut pita in half, add ¼ cup cashew “ricotta cheese” (recipe below) to each half. Sprinkle sunflower seeds on top, then layer an equal amount of sliced avocado and/or apple inside each pita pocket. Drizzle a bit of honey on top the apples and pack away for the lunchbox, or serve right away.
Cashew “Ricotta Cheese”
You may want to make a double batch of this cashew ricotta as it keeps for several days in the fridge and is a delicious dip paired with veggie sticks or crackers.
1/2 cup cashews
1 small garlic clove
dash sea salt
1 1/2 tsp. olive oil
1.5 tbsp. lemon juice
Soak 1 cup of cashews in 1 cup of water for about 30 minutes. Drain and rinse cashews, then add them, along with one garlic clove and a dash of sea salt into the food processor.
Pulse for about 20 seconds, then add in 1 tbsp olive oil, and 3 tbsp lemon juice. Continue to pulse, adding a teaspoon of water as needed to achieve a chunky, ricotta-like texture.
Excellent in a school lunch, great as a sweet snack, they make a lovely party plate, and are perfect for packing on the road. Full of protein, these treats are always a hit.
1 Cup Cashews
1 Cup Almonds
¼ Cup Maple Syrup
1 Cup Pitted Dates
2 TBSP Peanut (or other nut) butter
1 TBSP Soy Sauce
2 TBSP Vanilla Extract
Dash of cinnamon
Shredded Coconut for rolling in “snow”
Grind all the nuts into a powder in your food processor. Add in dates, maple syrup, soy sauce, peanut butter, cinnamon, and vanilla. Process until thoroughly blended. Roll the mixture into a ping pong sized ball & coat them in either shredded coconut ‘snow’! Sweet Snowballs store in the fridge for weeks in an airtight container. I almost always make a double batch.
PB Chewy Bars
Here is a variation of my famous “PB Chewies” which have gone over so well with many a different crowd of people, children and adults alike! Easy to make, packed with nutrients, fiber, protein and vitamins, and definitely satisfy a sweet tooth.
These are my daughter Paisley’s favorite lunchtime snack, and they are also named after her. Super fun to assemble and a spectacular activity to do with the kids. They store easily in the fridge for a week or more.
¾ Cup Granola
2 TBSP Maple Syrup
½ Cup Sunflower Seeds
½ Cup Raisins
1 Cup Carrot Pulp from the Juicer or ½ Cup Shredded Carrots
2 TBSP Wheat Germ
2TBSP Flax Seeds (Preferably ground so you absorb all the nutrients)
1.5 Cups Peanut Butter
¼ Cup Shredded Coconut (Optional)
Combine everything except the peanut butter in a mixing bowl and thoroughly blend. Once mixed, add in the peanut butter and make sure it is all blended completely. Press batter into a loaf tin or an 8x8 cooking dish. Refrigerate, then cut into bars & enjoy!
Peanut Butter Pinwheels (raw)
This is an especially scrumptious treat, 100% raw, and not only great in the lunchbox, but fun for anytime snacking. I use a food dehydrator to make the fruit leather—a worthwhile investment if you’re thinking of adding more raw foods to your daily life. But you can also make fruit leather in your oven by setting your oven to the lowest possible temperature and leaving the oven door slightly ajar. Drying time varies depending on variables such as humidity, but it generally takes 4-8 hours.
1 cup Coconut Water
1 cup De-stemmed Strawberries
1 TBSP Honey
2 TBSP Flax seeds, ground
Blend all ingredients into a smooth, creamy mixture. Pour onto a Teflex sheet and dehydrate at 115 degrees for 10-12 hours or until dry, no longer sticky, but leathery. Peel from teflex and set on a large plate.
Spread homemade nut butter (or store-bought in a pinch) along the surface of the fruit roll. Then roll it into a long cylinder, and cut in individual slices. Set upright on a plate and notice how pretty they look, aside from being tasty, nutritious, and energizing snacks.
Cassidy Barbeau is a writer and creative artist living out her dreams in the pura vida paradise of Costa Rica. The author of one travel adventure book & 2 vegetarian & living foods cookbooks, she continues to be inspired by her pursuit of bliss and has a knack for sharing her zest for life with those around her. Cassidy, her 2 enchanting children, and very supportive husband, are all committed, if not lifelong, vegetarians. A vigorous passion for food and a burning desire to create keep her delectable dishes unique yet simple to prepare. She is currently working on a recipe book geared primarily towards healthy, easy, raw & vegan recipes for children. You can find her fan page at Pura Vida Pantry on Facebook, email her: Puravidapantry[at]gmail.com or better yet, support her endeavors by buying her best selling Pura Vida Pantry Recipe Book here.