How to Create Healthy Snacks For Kids

Are you feeding your kids healthy snacks?  With our hectic schedules it is easy to let kids eat what they want.  Unfortunately that is not always wise.  There are too many obese children as well as adults.  These hints can be used by anyone.  Creating healthy snacks or meals can be easy and fun.  It is important to read labels when you shop.  That does take a little more time but once you figure out the best products, you don’t have to read the labels.  Try to cut down on saturated fat.  That means buy lite or no-fat products.  Often when there is less sugar there is more salt so look for both of those.  In my Foods and Nutrition classes in college they talked about eating a variety of colors.  That has served me well through the years for getting more vitamins.  There are many ways to make things more varied, colorful and fun.

It is important to involve the kids. Let them pick out what fruits and vegetables they would like to eat that day.  My kids loved raw carrot sticks but forget it if I tried to give them cooked carrots.  “Bugs-on-a-log” is fun to make.  We made that often when in Girl Scouts.  Start by cleaning celery, drying it with a paper towel, filling the celery with peanut butter or almond butter, and put raisins on the top.  Instead of raisins, I often put sunflower seeds on my almond butter.  Some great dips to complement the fruits and vegetables would be hummus, salsa mixed with low-fat sour cream, or no-fat vanilla yogurt with cinnamon and raisins. The easiest one of all would be to dip veggies in low-fat ranch dressing.  Many recipes can be found online that the kids can help you prepare.

Trail mix of nuts and dried fruit is a much better alternative to chips.   Low-fat or no-fat yogurt with a little granola is tasty.   A favorite snack of my kids was to make yogurt popsicles.  We purchased forms at the hardware store.  Start by putting plain yogurt in a blender and mixing in some concentrated fruit juice.  To add more sweetness you can blend in a ripe banana. You can also blend in fresh fruit. Freeze several at a time and they will last for days.

For young children it is fun to cut sandwiches with cookie cutters to create cool shapes.  When possible select whole grain breads, wraps or pita pockets.  Avoid white flour “air bread” that can be squished down to a tiny ball.  I remember loving that kind of bread at my grandma’s house.  Unfortunately there is often lacking in nutrition and fiber.   Children could help decorate open faced sandwiches.  Have you tried peanut butter and sliced bananas as a filling?  Other items to put in sandwiches would be chicken, apple slices, lettuce, barley, cream cheese, veggies, celery, sunflower seeds, avocado, dried fruits, cucumber, chopped nuts, olives, and meat spreads.  Look online for some ideas for new spreads.

I encourage everyone to drink water.  If you don’t like plain water you can add lemons, other fruits, sliced cucumber, etc.  Avoid fruit drinks as they have lots of sugar.  Fruit juice is better but should be limited.  Soda and sports drinks are not recommended, especially if they have caffeine.

Make planning and preparing food a fun experience for you and your children.  It will teach them cooking skills, which is seldom taught in the schools anymore.  Bon appétit.

 

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