No matter how old your kids are, if you’re still responsible for their care and feeding you know how important it is to have a steady supply of easy, healthy snacks on hand. I like to think of snacks as mini-meals; these nibbles are more than just filler – snacks account for almost a third of kids’ total caloric intake, providing a great opportunity for a nutritional boost.
With high energy requirements, kids of all ages need to graze throughout the day to keep their energy levels high. Ideally for kids (and grownups), each snack (or mini-meal) should deliver some protein, complex carbohydrates and healthy fats. A variety of textures is appealing, too – especially late in the afternoon, when you crave something crunchy or chewy. Toast, I’ve found, is the perfect solution – like an open-faced sandwich, it provides a vehicle for all kinds of good-for-you ingredients, is slightly smaller than a full two-slice sandwich, and kids can create their own at any time of day. Dressed-up toast is as well suited to breakfast as an after school or bedtime snack, and can even pinch-hit as lunch or dinner.
Avocado toast – ripe avocado mashed onto toasted bread, often topped with other tasty things – has been all the rage in recent years, spurring a reminder of how delicious, comforting and versatile toast is. Toast has also become a trend in coffee shops, most often made with artisan bread and topped with homemade preserves or labneh, toasted nuts and honey. Kids see it as retro. You can pay $4 for a piece of toast with your coffee, or make a dozen slices on your own for a fraction of the cost.
It’s a good idea, nutritionally, to start with whole grain bread – the sturdier the better, in order to structurally support all the ingredients you’re going to rummage from your fridge to pile on top. Multigrain toast or English muffins work well – we recently took new Harvest Bakes for a spin, and they were made for toasting – a new square flatbread made with whole grains (first on the ingredient list: whole grain whole wheat flour, including the germ – this isn’t always the case in whole grain breads) – they come in blueberry and cinnamon-apple, but our favourite were the quinoa bakes with sunflower, flax, pumpkin and chia seeds.
I love a grainy base, whether I’m topping my toast with sweet or savoury, and these worked perfectly – the squares were even conveniently the same size as deli sliced cheese. They reminded us how much we love tuna melts – and bacon cheddar ones like my mom used to make. (Top toast with cheddar and cooked, crumbled bacon, and broil for a few minutes to melt.)
Speaking of melts – this new found potential for toast toppings had me repurposing leftovers in the most delicious way – spreads like hummus and baba ghanoush are ideal for spreading over toast (try this topped with leftover shredded roasted chicken too – amazing), or cut toast into fingers to drag through these dips like you might with eggs and soldiers. And things like leftover beef stew, baked beans or curry – even when you don’t have enough for a bowlful (and especially when you don’t) can be stretched into a real meal by piling it warm on toast and eating as is, or covering with cheese and running under the broiler for a minute. And of course you can put an egg on anything and call it lunch or dinner.
Of course toast still works as a quick breakfast, too. On weekday mornings, precious minutes are better spent sleeping or getting ready for your day than preparing breakfast and lunch – make it a DIY lunch by packing bread (or Harvest Bakes) with a ripe avocado or containers of spreads (almond butter and a banana, cream cheese and toasted nuts, tuna salad and halved grapes, or whatever you can think of) to assemble at work or school. Bonus: an open-faced sandwich (or loaded toast) is more visually appealing than a closed one, and it’s not soggy when you assemble it once you’re ready to eat.
I propose a toast to healthy noshing all day long!
* Thanks to new Country Harvest Harvest Bakes for providing samples and sponsoring this post – as always, words and opinions are all my own.