In this week's Martin & Sylvia story, “Pickup League,” Martin wants to join little league baseball like his friend Peter, but Momma and Daddy say he isn’t old enough for organized sports. He has to be nine.
Nine! Martin is amazed!
But that doesn’t mean there’s no baseball for Martin. Daddy pulls together a pick-up game with friends; flexible rules, bat and ball options, and many creative calls from the sidelines make for fun for everyone in the family!
Perhaps it was due to my epic clumsiness, but, as a child, my favorite part of playing organized sports was always the snack at the end of the game. In the days before Pinterest, our snacks were nothing fancy and often did not even pretend to be healthy. (Cheetos and soda, anyone?) But it was always a fun surprise to see what other families would bring, and to plot out something that would please my teammates when it was my family's turn to supply snacks.
It feels like snack day is a little harder now. Not only are most of us trying to be a bit healthier, but with the prevalence of allergies and other dietary restrictions, it can be hard to choose a snack that everyone can partake in. No one wants to leave a teammate out or, worse, get a friend sick.
To that end, you know what makes the perfect group snack? Fruit!
Sweet slices of watermelon, crisp apples and pears, handfuls of candy-sweet berries—fruit is delicious, healthy, and meets all kind of dietary needs. Plus, it's easy. You can just portion it out into pretty cups and let your little leaguers dig in.
But if you need something a little more special, you can also jazz plain fruit up a bit by varying how you present it. A waffle-cone serving bowl or a kebab skewer and a drizzle of chocolate can make fruit seem a little more special and still comply with allergy restrictions. (Always check your labels, to be sure, but waffle cones are generally nut-free, for example. And I've had good luck finding certified nut and gluten free chocolate chips at Trader Joe's.)
In our part of the world, it's strawberry season, so here are three different ways you could serve strawberries to a team. Feel free to extrapolate these to include other fruit as the seasons change where you live.
Strawberry Team Snacks, 3 ways
Ingredients (choose depending on which snack you intend to make)
About 1 pound of strawberries for every 4-5 players
Pretty cups or waffle cones or wooden kebab skewers
10 ounces chocolate chips
Wash and hull the strawberries, cutting any really big ones in half. Portion them out into pretty cups to be eaten with forks or fingers.
- On Kebabs, Drizzled with Chocolate
Wash the strawberries and cut off the tops of all but a handful. Leaving space for a handle, skewer the berries securely. It's optional, but I think it's pretty to use a berry with its green top still on for the very top of the skewer. Lay the completed kebabs out in a single layer on a baking sheet or piece of parchment paper.
Meanwhile, melt a bag of chocolate chips. (I typically do this in the microwave, at 30 second intervals with a quick stir in between.) Once the chocolate is melted, use a spoon to drizzle it over the tops of the berry kebabs. Allow the chocolate to harden, then refrigerate in a lidded container, with a sheet of parchment between each layer of kebabs.
You can make these up to about 24 hours in advance, but make sure to keep them cold until you're ready to serve them so that the chocolate doesn't re-melt.
About the Author
The Sparkle Kitchen Series is created by Meryl Carver-Allmond.
Meryl lives in a hundred year old house near the prairie with her sweet husband, two pre-schoolers, one puppy, one gecko, and about ten chickens. While she's been writing since she could pick up a pen, in recent years she's discovered the joy of photography, too. She feels lucky to be able to combine those skills, along with a third passion--showing people that cooking for themselves can be healthy and fun--in her weekly Sparkle Kitchen posts.
When Meryl isn't writing for Sparkle Kitchen, you can find her on her personal blog, My Bit of Earth, where she writes about chickens, babies, knitting, gardening, food, photography, and whatever else tickles her fancy on any given day.