One thing I’ve learned about living with a bunch of boys is that they’re ALWAYS hungry. Once the bus comes in the afternoon, everyone’s day can start to unravel pretty quickly. The boys need to decompress from being at school, and I have to start putting dinner together. I’ve learned that having snacks ready when the boys walk through the door goes a long way in smoothing the afternoon transition time.
These snacks also happen to be gluten-free. Some of our boys are intolerant to gluten, so we generally eat gluten free the majority of the time. If you’re cooking for someone with allergies or serious reactions to gluten, make sure all your ingredients are certified gluten free.
(Also, in full disclosure, not all the snacks survived long enough for me to take pictures for this post. The amounts listed are what I would start with for a week’s worth of after school snacks, or for a busy weekend. Clearly, the small bowl of apple chips in the above picture wouldn’t last long with my family. However, I try not to get between the boys and their snacks.)
Weekends require even more boy fuel, and often we’re on the go, so we need to have food that’s easy to take with us, and easy to eat. I set the oven timer for an hour to see how many of our tried and true snack staples I could crank out in sixty minutes.
I began by making another round of secret ingredient fruit leather. I had roasted beets in the fridge already from the last batch I made, so the roasting time wasn’t included in the hour time frame.
Since the dehydrator had fruit leather in it anyway, I filled the other trays with two pounds of organic apples. I didn’t dip them in lemon juice, or treat them in any other way–just sliced and set them on the drying racks.
Dipping apple slices in lemon juice will prevent browning, if you’re going to store your apple slices for a long time. (I often use Minute Maid’s frozen lemon juice from the freezer section. Non-frozen or non-refridgerated lemon juice is full of untasty preservatives). I like the slight tart edge the lemon juice gives the apples. However, since I knew these dried apples would only last a week (or less), I skipped this step in order to save time.
Nutmeg or cinnamon lightly sprinkled on apple slices before drying is a great variation for apple chips. If you don’t have a dehydrator, simply wash and thinly slice apples, place them on parchment lined baking sheets, and bake at 200 degree F for 2 hours.
Begin checking the apple chips at two hours–they shouldn’t be sticky, but anywhere from leathery to crispy is what you want. Experiment to find out what your family likes best. I like apple slices slightly soft and chewy, but these won’t store long, since they have more moisture than crispy apple chips.
I used the entire two pounds of apples for apple chips, with the exception of this tiny bowl of scraps. (It might be about half an apple’s worth?) I stuck the scraps into a jar of apple cores for making apple cider vinegar. Helen over at Well-Being Secrets has written a really in-depth post about all the health benefits of apples. Be sure to check it out here.
Next I mixed up a batch of homemade granola bars. I make super simple homemade granola bars–they aren’t the healthiest in the world, but they’re incredibly easy.
Simply combine 3 cups of oats, 14 oz of sweetened condensed milk, and 1 cup of add ins (chocolate chips, dried fruit, nuts, ect) in a bowl and mix well. Spread on a parchment lined baking sheet and bake for 30 minutes at 350 F. Cool completely, and cut into bars with a sharp knife.
Finally, I made hummus in the blender. The chickpeas were already cooked in the fridge, which again helped out on the time.
So when I was completely done, I had 24 granola bars, ten strips of fruit leather (about 1 inch x 12 inches each), a half gallon of dried apple chips,and a large bowl of hummus.
I’m not sure this will last us all weekend, but at least we’re starting out well stocked. This would also be a decent amount of after school snacks to begin a week with.
I like having the variety of one sweet snack, two fruits, a protein, and once I get carrots, celery, broccoli and cauliflower sliced for the hummus, lots of veggies. If I needed to bulk up these snacks a bit to make them more of a meal, hard boiled eggs would add a second easy protein. Gluten free Pigs in Corn Muffins and homemade zucchini chips would be also be great additions.
What does your family like for travel friendly food?
- One 15 ounce canned, rinsed chickpeas or 1.5 cups of cooked chickpeas
- 1 garlic clove, minced
- Juice of one lemon (or ¼ c)
- 3 Tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil, plus more for serving
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1 teaspoon salt
- Paprika for garnish (optional)
- Combine all ingredients in blender or food processor
- Process until smooth, thin with 1 T of water at a time, if necessary
- Serve in bowl with paprika sprinkled on top, if desired