Sunday, 9 October 2011

Can gouter be healthy

After six years in France, I still struggle with the gouter concept.  The ‘gouter’ for those of you who don’t have a clue what I’m talking about is the English equivalent of ‘tea and biscuits’.  As most families in France tend to eat their evening meal around 8pm, the gouter is a much needed snack to help bridge the gap between lunch and supper and consists usually of a handful of biscuits and fruit wolfed down outside the school gates.   Adverts on television and on boxes of biscuits promote the gouter as being a balanced snack – i.e. 2 biscuits with a piece of fruit or fruit juice, and yoghurt.  My problems with this are a) a daily diet of refined and processed sugary biscuits is not particularly healthy b) my children seem to find it impossible just to nibble on a couple of biscuits (a bit like their mother!), by the time we have walked back to the car, the packet is empty and the children are fighting loudly over who gets to eat the crumbs!
I should underline here I do think that there does need to be a balance.  As parents we need to teach our children to be independent eaters capable of moderating their own food intake. There’s a lot of research out there which shows that children whose diets are ‘over policed’ by their parents, often end up as out of control eaters as they grow older.  Our children can and should be able to enjoy the occasional sweet treat, it’s just better if possible that the cake or biscuit is made from natural and unrefined ingredients! 
So, what are some of the healthier, but equally-appealing- to- your- children options for gouter!?
·       Sandwiches – peanut butter and banana being a particular favourite of my three
·       Fruit in any form
·       Seeds, nuts and dried fruit
·       Rice or oatcakes with cheese
·       Hard boiled eggs (I kid you not, especially if you write colourful messages on the shell for your children to read!)
·       Flapjacks – (my favourite recipe below)

Charlotte’s Fab Flapjacks:
Heat oven to 180 deg, grease a shallow baking tin
Melt 180g butter, 120g brown sugar, 2 tbls golden syrup and 2 tbls of honey together in a saucepan.  When melted take off heat and add 240g oats and 150g mix of seeds/nuts and dried fruit.  Spoon into tin and bake in oven for 20-25 mins.  Leave to cool for 10 minutes and then cut into squares. 
Enjoy a flapjack, in peace and quiet over a cup of tea before picking up the children from school!


  1. I gave today hard boiled eggs to the girls, wrote messages and made some funny drawings on them, a real success! They loved it :o)!