Friday, June 24, 2011

Pandamania Vacation Bible School: Healthier Snacks

I was politely asked to be the snack coordinator this year.  I assumed it meant that I would source food and prep it for Pandamania Vacation Bible School.  I happily agreed (because it was a job I felt I could do easily) and later found out that snacks for this VBS related very specifically to the theme AND it required me to teach one of the "stations."  Add on top of that I had to modify for several allergies in the group, namely egg, dairy, nuts, and some fruits.  Fortunately Group's VBS material provided exactly what snacks they wanted, a script for me to present the snack and even key plans on how to prepare the snack.  The other key was that the snack needed to be simple enough that the kids, ages 4 to 12 could prepare on their own.  (We went for a different approach from the Group recommendation of having a snack crew.)

But I wasn't happy with the snacks.  Many of them relied on a lot of processed foods and overly sugary things.  As our VBS was late in the evening, I didn't really like the thought of filling the kids up with all the sugar late in the evening and sending them home.  I asked the coordinator if I could modify the snacks and she gave me free rein as long as I kept the snacks in line with the theme.  With the green light, I took the challenge.

Friends at church jokingly referred to this as my first "restaurant" opening.  When they said THAT, I got all motivated to come up with a name for my restaurant and create decoration.  With the help of many (Thanks Project 180 and JJ and everyone else), this was the actual space where the kids ate their snacks and I taught a brief lesson in connection with the snack.

Day 1:  God made me.
Snack:  Maker Mix

This was a simple modification for me.  The most important thing was having all the elements for the different things God created.  Our maker mix had - goldfish, cinnamon chex, chocolate chex, and rice chex, Annie's bunnies, dried blueberries, dried cranberries and yogurt covered raisins.  Then I taught the lesson based on the following:
Blueberries -sky
Cranberries - beautiful flowers
Chex - the ground and the earth
Yogurt covered raisins - clouds
Annie's Bunnies - animals of the earth
Goldfish - the animals of the sea




For our allergic kids, I prepared a few bowls of allergy friendly mix.  I carefully mixed theirs first to avoid cross contamination.  (Rice and Cinnamon Chex, and Annie's are dairy and egg free)

Day 2: God listens to you.
Snack:  Elijah's Altar

This is one snack I went totally away from Group's recommendation.  They wanted cupcakes, blue frosting and red hots.  I decided to do something far less sugary and processed and went with rice cakes, topped with a bit of cream cheese, strawberries and blueberries and drizzled with honey.  This was absolutely a huge hit with the kids and the adults alike.  People were amazed at the simplicity of the ingredients and how great they tasted together.

Rice Cake - altar
Blueberries - water
Strawberries - fire

I used squeeze bottles like these to put the honey so the kids could squirt honey on top of their rice cake.















Day 3: God watches over you.
Snack:  Fish Food

I made the most minor modification to this one - I simply exchanged the "cheese from a can" with cream cheese.  The triangle crackers were hard for me to find, so I went with a plain tortilla chip.  The kids liked the Quaker Quakes rice cakes (a bit too much in my opinion) and it made them a bit thirstier than I would have liked.  But they ate up the grapes and the crackers.  

Day 4: God loves you, no matter what.
Snack:  Cross of Life

This is another snack where I went completely away from the curriculum. The curriculum wanted the chocolate covered pretzels, with sprinkles, which just didn't sit well with me.  I decided to go vegetable sticks so that the kids could make their cross on their plates, but not necessarily keep them "glued together."  They were given a few seconds to arrange their food and then they were able to eat vegetables sticks, pretzel sticks, and cheddar cheese sticks.  I also made spinach dip for the kids and it was a huge hit as well.

Day 5: God gives good gifts.
Snack:  Sweet Gifts


This snack was slightly modified from the curriculum.  I loved the layering and I just decided to get rid of the things that I thought were processed and replace them with other things.  I decided instead of the graham cracker crumbs to do granola.  I went with a very thick and wonderful Fage non-fat Greek yogurt, which just has this amazingly thick, almost ice cream like texture and did not use any whipped topping, and instead just used honey.  I also went with fresh blueberries and sliced strawberries instead of the frozen ones.  If cost is an issue, and you find the frozen cheaper, by all means go ahead and use them.

I made the granola homemade but you can certainly buy granola.  However, granola often has nuts, dairy, soy and other ingredients that can cause problems for kids with allergies, so I opted to make my own.  (It has few ingredients and was super yummy - recipe here.)

Fresh Blueberries- God's daily blessing
Honey - God's special gift to Hannah

If you have any questions, or if I can make your Pandamania snack experience any easier, don't hesitate to comment or email. Happy healthy eats at VBS everyone!

9 comments:

B's mommy said...

Thanks for posting these pics. I think you were perfect to provide snack for vbs. I loved how you considered the theme into your snacks. And I loved the decors. You're quite crafty. I'm hosting a get together tonight for a small group and am going to mimic your crostini. wish me luck.

Min

LadySaotome said...

Pandamania is what our church is doing, too. I'll have to find out who's doing snacks and point them here!

Joy said...

These are great snacks. I'm so forwarding this to my uncle. I'm sure he would love to include these for our children's sabbath schools classes.

Jen said...

Wonderful ways to make VBS healthier! I'll have to bookmark the ideas for when my son is old enough to begin learning these things about the bible. Love the post :)

Anonymous said...

Just found this while searching for healthy snacks for our VBS. This is such a great help!

Anonymous said...

Awesome!!! I know the ladies work really hard providing the VBS snacks. But I do cringe a little when I see corn dogs, chips, and pizza. Love that you considered nutrition too!

Anonymous said...

We're doing Pandamania, too. I'm in the Wild Bible Adventure team, but I'll forward this post to our Snack crew. Thanks for sharing this!

Anonymous said...

Awesome! I'm doing the food at our Pandamania VBS and I was worried about the food choices myself. Thanks!

Anonymous said...

How much in advance can I make that granola and it still be good?

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