Teenage boys need more calories than the rest of the family, eat twice as much as everyone else and are still hungry half an hour later. It can be very difficult to steer them towards healthy snacks when they just scoop up everything in sight and still want more. If they play a lot of sport and grow six inches in a year, they need plenty of energy and nutrition dense food to build strong bones, feed the brain and try and prevent outbreaks of spots! Vegetables are not usually top of the list of a boy’s favourite food.
You can feed them well at meal times but how can you stop them snacking away your whole food budget? It can be the in between meals options that are difficult to find for active teenage boys.
Home-made Soup – This is a good cheap option. Boys can help themselves when they are hungry and you can pack soup with lots of vegetables and lentils and whizz with a hand blender to leave as much texture as required. If you can make stock from chicken bones even better, as the stock contains calcium and magnesium and other trace elements important for healthy bones and strengthening cartilage and tendons important to prevent sport injuries especially when growing quickly.
Basic Soup recipe
In a little olive oil gently cook a chopped onion, carrot, potato and/or a sweet potato (if you have any other vegetables bung them in)
Add some paprika and some dried herbs
Add the stock (homemade or use low salt bullion or stock cube) and some lentils (how much depends on how thick you like your soup) - experiment adding beans, quinoa etc for extra protein.
Simmer for 25 minutes
Add some watercress and whizz to desired texture.
Energy bars – dates and ground nuts make the base for a variety of energy balls or bars at a fraction of the price of shop bought ones.
A very basic recipe - Whizz up 150g pitted dates with 50g ground almonds and a tablespoon of cocoa powder. You can add some chilli flakes and a bit of crunch e.g.some cacao nibs if you want, but it is not necessary. Make into balls or bars and freeze until required (nice straight from the freezer). This takes all of 30 seconds to do from start to finish.
The dates do contain natural sugar, but they also contain fibre that slows the release of sugar in the body. The bars also contain protein, calcium and iron, important for healthy growth.
There are lots of options for energy balls/bars. This is a link for a delicious Real Foods recipe for spirulina, cacao and coconut energy balls.
(Teenage son thought I had made chocolate truffles. After the brief initial disappointment, he had two of these and I had to hide the rest)
Protein Shakes –Buy a good quality protein powder. One that is a complete protein and contains the spectrum of vitamins and minerals. Whey is good for shakes. Whizz with some frozen raspberries for a filling after sport snack.
Dips and spreads – making homemade hummus is quick and tasty.
· One tin of chickpeas drained reserve 1/3 cup of liquid
· Add 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
· 1 1/2 tablespoons tahini
· Crushed garlic clove
· Squeeze of lemon juice
Whizz with a hand blender
Nut butters – for example cashew and almond butter. If you want to buy peanut butter, make sure that peanuts are the only ingredient, no added oils, salt or sugar. Delicious on oatcakes and rice cakes – wholegrains give additional B vitamins for energy and fibre and keep a teenage boy feeling full for longer.
Baked sweet potatoes. These make a good alternative to a baked potato and contain lots more betacarotene and Vitamin C important for a strong immune system and are a good source of fibre. Boys with high energy expenditure need lots of carbohydrates, so this is a great alternative.
Cake – sometimes boys just want cake. There are lots of ways you can improve the nutrition of a cake. You can hide beetroot, carrot and even courgettes in cakes. If you bake use xylitol instead of sugar – a naturally occurring alcohol found in most plant material, including many fruits and vegetables that doesn’t affect blood sugar levels. Coconut or Olive oil can be used instead of butter or margarine. Quinoa or ground almonds can be used instead of flour.
Quinoa is also useful as a main ingredient in both sweet and savoury snacks. It is a compete protein with iron and fibre and even some calcium.
If you want some recipe ideas please contact me firstname.lastname@example.org
You can’t control everything a teenage boy snacks on, but you can offer options that will fill those hollow legs whilst providing excellent nutrition.
You know you are on the right track when he asks
“Can you make me something healthy”
And even better –
“I can’t eat that shop bought hummus it’s too salty” (when on holiday unable to make some)