Smart Snacks

From issue 15 of Lunch Lady. Power-packed recipes for toddlers to teenagers by child psychologist Michael Carr-Gregg + foodie Flip Shelton

Avocado chips

dairy-free / gluten-free option / nut-free

We mash it, we smash it, we can make a face mask with it … so why not create a chip with it? Avocados are high in fibre and healthy monounsaturated fats and make a lovely, delicate baked chip. To make these chips gluten-free, use gluten-free breadcrumbs.

Makes 8

1 firm avocado

1 large free-range egg

1/4 cup (40g / 1.41oz) rice flour 

1 cup (70g / 2.47oz) stale white breadcrumbs (see tip)

sea salt

ground black pepper

1/4–1/2 tsp cayenne pepper, optional

lime juice, to serve

1. Preheat the oven to 220°C / 425°F / Gas Mark 7. Line a baking tray with baking paper.

2. Halve the avocado, remove the stone and peel away the skin. Cut the avocado into eight wedges.

3. Crack the egg into a shallow bowl and lightly whisk.

4. Place the flour and breadcrumbs in two separate shallow bowls. Season breadcrumbs with salt and pepper—and cayenne for some kick!

5. Working one at a time, dust each piece of avocado in the flour and then coat in the egg, allowing any excess to drip off. Place into the breadcrumb mixture until evenly coated.

6. Spread over the lined tray and bake for 10–15 minutes or until golden and crisp. Serve drizzled with lime juice.

TIP: To make the breadcrumbs for this dish, I use a white bread, even though I stick to wholemeal for almost everything else.

Green pea dip (AKA Dippy)

dairy-free / egg-free / gluten-free / 
grain-free / wheat-free

Frozen pea packets aren’t just for sprained ankles and headaches; they are also perfect to make this dip. I always have a packet of frozen peas (and corn) on hand so I can whip up this dip in minutes. There is nothing, however, like the taste of fresh peas, so get the kids on shelling duty! When the brain is racing, doing something simple with your hands can be calming—a great antidote for stressed students. Finally: don’t skimp on the mint, as it elevates the dip to another level.

Makes about 2 1/2 cups

2 cups (220g / 7.76oz) frozen or fresh peas

large handful of mint leaves (about 1 cup)

1/2 cup (70g / 2.47oz) pine nuts or blanched almonds

zest of 1 lemon, finely grated (adjust to taste)

2 tbsp lemon juice

1–2 tbsp olive oil or coconut oil

sea salt

ground black pepper

1. Bring a medium saucepan of water to the boil over high heat.

2. Add the peas and cook for 3 minutes or until just tender: you don’t want them super-mushy. Drain.

3. Put peas into a food processor with mint, pine nuts, lemon zest and juice, and 1 tablespoon of the oil. Process until smooth-ish. I like it to be a little chunky. If you want a smooth consistency, add a little more oil or water.

4. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

GLUTEN-FREE ALMOND MEAL CRACKERS

gluten-free / grain-free / wheat-free

These crackers are gluten-free and made with almond meal and an egg, so they’re full of good fats and protein. 

Makes about 20

2 cups (240g / 8.47oz) ground almonds

1 large free-range egg

Flavouring options:

a few grinds of sea salt and ground black pepper

1 tsp dried rosemary, 1/2 tsp garlic flakes, 1/4 tsp chilli powder and 2 tbsp grated parmesan cheese

1/2 teaspoon onion flakes

1 tsp sesame seeds and 1 tsp poppy seeds

1. Preheat the oven to 150°C / 300°F / Gas Mark 2. Line a large baking tray with baking paper.

2. Put the ground almonds, egg and your flavouring of choice into a food processor or blender and pulse until the mixture becomes a crumbly dough, about 1 minute.

3. Transfer mixture to a large sheet of baking paper and press into a ball. Place another sheet of baking paper over the top and use a rolling pin to roll out the mixture until it’s about 1cm / 0.39″ thick. Press any thinning edges back into the mixture to even the edges.

4. Use a pizza cutter to cut the dough into 2cm by 2cm / 0.79″ x 0.79″ squares, or use a cookie cutter to make different shapes. Place crackers on lined tray and sprinkle some additional seasoning on top for decoration.

5. Bake for 12 minutes or until just golden.

6. Allow to cool on a wire rack before eating.

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