It’s been a long, cold, bitter winter in Chicago. I was beginning to wonder if spring was ever going to arrive, but as of this weekend, it seems to have announced that it’s finally here. Needless to say, we’ve been spending as much time as physically possible outside – and enjoying every second of it. Since we aren’t at home, that means I’m taking my springtime snacks with me on the go – and yes, that includes the frozen treats I had fun surprising the wee ones with, too. It’s amazing what a tiny cooler and an ice pack can do to keep fruit bars frozen, and the smiles on the faces of the wee ones made it all worthwhile.
On Saturday, there was an amazing local event. Almost all day, kids were invited to a “No Child Left Inside” event filled with booths and all sorts of activities. Even though we were there for over four hours, we didn’t have time to do everything. Who knew painting with mud would be such a hit – and yes, that is splattered mud on the wee ones’ faces – or that they would get such a kick out of running the 100 yard dash. They ran it three times, and Mister Man helped a preschooler during one run. After he had finished, he turned back and saw that the boy was stopping. Mister Man ran back, took the boy’s hand and cheered him on, pulling him (gently) to and across the finish line.
There were other booths where the wee ones could do anything from practice archery (neither was very good, but both had a blast) or be hoisted up a tree and belayed down, which was a favorite and one they had to do over and over again. We also spent almost an hour searching for animal life in a pond. They found leeches, dragonfly nymphs, crayfish, and more – and of course both got filthy muddy.
I insisted we wash up after searching through the muck of the pond, and we hiked over to the main building where they were instantly fascinated not just by the kites they were going to be able to choose and fly but also by the snack bar. The wee ones are growing like weeds, and they are constantly hungry. Fortunately, I was able to distract them from the hot dogs and chips and candy that were being offered for sale. Smart me, I had packed some springtime snacks that I knew they’d love.
Knowing we were going to be – with my fingers crossed hoping the weather forecast was accurate – spending a lot of time at the park, I knew I’d get the “I’m hungry” mantra at some point. Earlier in the week, I made a run to Walmart for #CollectiveBias and picked up some OUTSHINE® fruit bars for them and SKINNY COW® chocolate mint ganache cones for me. I love that the OUTSHINE® Fruit and Veggie Bars are not just refreshing treats but also include some of the fruit and veggie ingredients that we ensure we eat every day.
Shhh, don’t tell the wee ones that the frozen treats I brought for them have carrots in addition to tangerines or that the Blueberry Medley fruit bars have beet juice as the first ingredient. Who would ever guess since you find them and the SKINNY COW® cones right next to each other, along with all the other ice cream novelties in the freezer section.
So of course when the wee ones first heard that I wasn’t going to buy them anything from the snack bar, the wee ones started whining. Or at least, they whined until they saw what I started pulling out of the tiny cooler I’d brought along. Kids being kids, they didn’t notice what I was carrying until it benefited them, so it was a complete surprise.
Smiles aside, they were even more excited that they could eat their frozen treats while still playing. Since we were hanging out by the kite area, we chose our Star Wars kites (duh, right?) and got them up in the air. It was plenty windy, so the kites got up quickly and they stayed up. So yes, of course the wee ones ate their OUTSHINE® fruit bars while they flew their kites.
I will admit that I was a little concerned that the fruit bars wouldn’t last, but they stayed frozen in my mini cooler for almost two hours with no issues – now that’s the perfect springtime snack when the weather’s gorgeous. And the wee ones were able to successfully split their attention between keeping their kites in the air and taking bites of the fruit bars. I have successfully taught the wee ones to multi-task!
When we got home, the wee ones told me it was the best day ever and that they wanted to do it again the next day, due in no part to that surprise frozen treat. There was no more festival, but since the weather held on Sunday, we went to the park to fly kites again and play at the playground. It was so refreshing to see everyone out and about at the playground, running around and enjoying themselves.
Not surprisingly, the wee ones remembered the OUTSHINE® fruit bars, and after a half hour or so begged to have them. Who am I to turn them down? They had already figured out that they can play and enjoy their fruit bars, although I instituted the “no running” rule for safety. Mister Man decided that hanging out on the slide was the best place to enjoy his fruit bar (he was so happy, he had to enjoy his with his eyes closed – silly child!), while Little Miss hung out – literally – on the bars munching away.
The wee ones loved their OUTSHINE® fruit and veggie bars (and I loved that Little Miss was able to eat them because they are dairy free, something everyone enjoyed without having her stick out with something “special”), but I brought a little something for myself, too. Remember those SKINNY COW® chocoalte mint ganache cones? I snuck one into the mini cooler for me to enjoy while they were off playing.
And I was pretty happy, too. I got to enjoy a sweet springtime snack without feeling guilty. Because it is ice cream, it melts a little bit faster than the fruit bars, but it was still frozen and yummy when I enjoyed it. I just kept it a little secret from the wee ones so they didn’t try to come over and sneak some of mine. A mom’s gotta do what a mom’s gotta do, right?
As I sat there, slowly savoring my sweet treat, I realized that I may have an answer for those days when I hit mid-afternoon and suddenly crave something sweet. It’s possible that I’ve sat with a bag of pretzels and jar of chocolate spread and snacked mindlessly until my cravings were gone or enjoying chocolate chips and dried cherries, but the lack of portion control means that those cravings are costing me. The SKINNY COW® chocolate mint ganache cones have just 160 calories. Compare that to 135 calories for just 30 of the chocolate chips or 110 calories for 2 tablespoons of my spread, and I know I was indulging in far more than just that.
Yesterday, when all I could think about was enjoying something sweet, I pulled out a SKINNY COW® chocolate mint ganache cone instead. I sat in the beautiful sunshine with my laptop and a book and savored that frozen treat instead of mindlessly snacking while I worked. And I was happy and satisfied when it was gone.
No wonder these are our #NewFavorites. Yum!