Did you know our children receive a significant percentage of their calories per day from snacking? Because of the impact snacks can have on our children's diets, it is important that snacks have sound nutritional value versus more traditional, sugar or salt laden snacks.
Here are some tips and tricks you can incorporate into your family's snacking routine:
- Reduce the number of processed, pre-packaged snack foods in favor of whole foods such as fruits and healthy proteins. (Be sure to cut grapes in half to avoid a choking hazard.)
- Set a schedule for your child's snacking – always right after school, always a certain time after dinner, etc.
- Make sure your child eats the snack at the table to avoid "vegging" in front of the TV.
- Combine two food groups when possible, such as a fruit and peanut butter.
- If you do keep pre-packaged snacks around the house, keep them out of reach of your child so you can have some control over what your child selects. The 100-calorie snack bags are a helpful way to limit the amount of processed foods and calories your child takes in.
- Take snacks with you in the car. Whenever your child says "Mom, I'm hungry!" you can produce a ready-to-go snack.
- Wash your fruit as soon as you get home from the store, so that it is ready to eat. Put apples and bananas in a bowl which is accessible by all. Cut grapes into small bunches so that your child can grab one whenever the mood strikes! Having healthy options readily available further encourages them to make smart choices.
Ideas for snacks:
- Sliced apples with peanut butter
- String cheese
- Mini bagel with cream cheese
- Fruit smoothie – plain yogurt, fresh fruit, and honey or agave nectar for sweetness (use a stick blender – super easy to use and you can blend right in the glass) – you can also make popsicles out of them!
- Ants on a log – celery with cream cheese or peanut butter and raisins on top.
- Pretzel sticks with peanut butter
- Carrot sticks with ranch dressing
- Applesauce or fruit cups (unsweetened applesauce and fruit cups in natural juice can be healthier options)
- Frozen grapes
- Fruit leathers (for a healthier option, look for brands which are 100% fruit and no added sugar)
- Fruit salad with your child's favorite cut up fruit, drizzle a little honey or agave nectar for added sweetness
- Chips and salsa
- Rice cakes
- Popcorn (for a healthier option, use air-popped or a light microwave variety)
- Mixed nuts – almonds, walnuts and pistachios pack a nutritional punch (keep an eye on serving size – nuts are healthy but need to be eaten in moderation!)
- Yogurt cups
- Swiss cheese wedges such as Babybell or Laughing Cow (lower fat option is available) spread on crackers or pretzel
Submitted by Springfield Moms contributor Kari Thevenot. For more information on Kari's business "Your Left Hand Virtual Assistant and Training," visit our Mom's Choice Directory.