Thursday, June 11, 2009

Kathleen Cannata Hanna: Sideline Snacks

Tired of the same old sugary snacks? Try these healthy ideas.

“Batter up!” Is that a question or a statement? I wonder as I sit in the grandstands watching my nephew’s baseball game. I come by myself; no grandparents, folding chairs, juice boxes, or snacks in tow. I remember my days as the "snack mom," signing up to bring nourishment to the team during the innings and after the game. I honestly think half the kids on the team played just for the snack. They would find me in the parking lot before the game asking . . . ”What’s for snack, Mrs. Hanna?”

As a novice I would watch moms and dads, week after week, try to outdo themselves. They'd unwrap dazzling cupcakes oozing with frosting (which the kids would lick off; then they'd discard the cake underneath) and hand out candy bars and the most important drink — the juice box. Of course, these juice boxes were filled with about a dime's worth of real fruit juice, even though the packaging displayed images of fresh fruit.

One evening, as I picked up my son from practice, I decided to tackle the healthy side of snacks — so I signed up for snack duty for the rest of the season. This assured me that the team (including my son) would get something delicious and nutritious to eat. I was first met with curious stares from the other parents, and then came the whispers and gossip: words such as "She is just a show off" or "What is she trying to prove?" Wow, I had no idea how fierce the competition was.

With a little thought, however,
"delicious" and "nutritious" were achieved. Here are some of my tried-and-true ideas that were a hit with the team — and the parents, too!

Peanut Butter Jam Squares

All you need is a loaf of Pepperidge Farms
Health Nut bread, a jar of natural peanut butter, and a jar of fruit spread (the kind with less sugar or 100% fruit). Take two slices of bread and lay them flat on the counter, spread a healthy dose of peanut butter on both sides of the bread, then a tablespoon of fruit spread on the peanut butter, and put the two slices together. Repeat until you have used the whole loaf of bread. Slice each sandwich into four triangles, and pack in a crushproof resealable container.

Quick Cocoa Muffin Cakes
So good you can skip the frosting!

1½ cup flour
¾ cup brown sugar
¼ cup cocoa
1 teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
1 cup water
¼ cup vegetable oil
1 tablespoon white vinegar
1 teaspoon vanilla

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

1. Combine flour, brown sugar, cocoa, baking soda, and salt in medium bowl; combine with whisk.
2. Add water, oil, vinegar, and vanilla. Beat with whisk until batter is smooth and well blended.
3. Spoon into 12 aluminum-lined muffin cups, and bake for 16 to 18 minutes.
(Recipe from
The Good-to-Go Cookbook)

Chilled Fruit Bowl

Take navel oranges and slice through north and south poles. Place each half on cutting board, and slice through the equator. This creates easy-to-eat orange slices. Combine in a crushproof resealable container with red and green seedless grapes that have been washed and plucked from the vine. Chill in the refrigerator for at least 4 hours. This snack is the ultimate refreshment after a dusty, hot game.

On-the-Run Pizza

Yes, even my wheels sometimes fell off my cart — and I forgot to pull a snack together for the team once in a while. This is when one always needs the local pizza joint number programmed into the cell phone. Order a few plain and a few with onions or mushrooms. Skip the greasy pepperoni, sausage, ground meat, or bacon option. Have the pizzas delivered to the field by the end of the game — the kids will absolutely love the treat.


No matter how boring it may look, water is the best thing for kids to drink during and after a game. The juice boxes and sports drinks can be overkill, especially when you consider their sugar and sodium content. Have a case of 8-ounce minibottles of water in the cooler with ice, and you’re set for the day.

Kathleen Cannata Hanna is an architect and public speaker, who has also run a successful baking and catering business. Hanna is the mother of two busy teenagers, who were enthusiastic testers for The Good-to-Go Cookbook. She and her family live near Lansing, Michigan.

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