September 16, 2012

Tanagholat - Healthy Back To School Snacks - Old-School Persian Style

روز اول ماه مهر Rooze avale mah-e  Mehr (Iranian first day of autumn and the first day of school) is just a few days away and there's that familiar sense of excitement in the air that takes you back to your childhood and all those first day of school memories. The word "mehr" also translates to the sun and kindness in Persian. In addition to my own nostalgic memories of rooze avale Mehr I also remember my daughter's first days of school. Many of those precious moments were captured in adorable photos of them with their new school clothes standing in line with other children waiting for their teacher to arrive or waving excitedly to familiar faces on the playground.

Every year, along with feelings of anticipation and excitement there were all those concerns and worries about making sure they get a good education, find good friends, and get involved in sports or some extracurricular activities that they would enjoy. There was also the major concern regarding what they were going to eat while at school and when they got home, especially with their ever changing taste buds. Choosing a تنقلات سالم  tanaghlat-e salem (healthy snack) is a big challenge when there are unhealthy foods all around. How can you send your child to school with a pita bread and feta sandwich when the school offers them chicken nuggets and french fries that look more appealing to them. The temptations of eating potato chips, cookies and candies as snacks is very strong for most kids and difficult to overcome. Children need to learn about nutrition, healthy alternatives and get involved in the kitchen at a young age.

Looking back, I realize that the kind of تنقلات tanagholat (snacks), or ghagha-lili, that we would have was the best and a much healthier choice than what's being offered out there today. There was some junk food back then too but nothing would make it to our home without my mother's approval and when it came to what we would eat she was very much involved.

I can easily say that we grew up on fruits, vegetables, noon o paneer (flat bread and Iranian cheese), nuts and dried fruits. I usually spread the feta cheese with crushed walnuts and dried mint on bread (taftoon, lavash, barbari or pita).

To this day I find those snacks to be the tastiest and healthiest snacks for school, after school or just everyday healthy snacking. Here's a list of some of those tanagholat that we filled our pockets with.

Tanagholat Salem- Healthy Snacks 

Apricots (dried)
Chickpeas (roasted)
Figs (dried)
Fruit rolls
Mulberries (dried)
Sour cherries (dried)

Enjoy! Have a great school year!