Healthy Snacks FOR KIDS!
Let’s be honest, at least a time or two, you’ve told your kids to stay away from eating between meals, saying, “You’ll spoil your dinner!” However, choosing healthy snacks to eat between meals is actually beneficial. According to Netty Levine, RD, CDE, a dietitian and diabetes educator at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles, “Snacking is not a bad thing — in fact, it’s a good thing — and it can actually help keep kids from overeating at mealtime.”
“Studies [have shown] that [healthy] snacking during the school day improves both mood and motivation, and may impact concentration. Snacks may help children maintain performance during times of high mental demand, like when taking an exam or making a class presentation” (WebMd).
Unfortunately, though, the food industry just bombards us with options that appear healthy. Sometimes, the best option is just to make our own snacks.
4 Tips for Healthy Snacks for Kids
- Give a little wiggle room – Implement a little of what your kids like into their daily snacks to encourage them to eat healthier. For example, if your kids love chocolate, a healthy option including chocolate might be a homemade trail mix with M&Ms or chocolate covered raisins.
- Portion Control – While its good to let your children play a role in choosing their snacks, keep in mind that any snack can get out of hand if the quantity is too much. The key to healthy snacking, for anyone really, is to monitor the amount. Ideally, snacks that exceed 250 calories is too much. Using little zip-lock baggies will help control the amount of goldfish crackers your kids eat, as well as make the snack portable and accessible for those little hands.
- Make it easy to eat – If something’s easy to eat, it’s more likely to be eaten. So…keep healthy snacks in places where the kids can reach it. Apple slices and peanut butter are a great nutritional snack for kids, but it’s not going to make a difference if the peanut butter is in a big jar on the top shelf in the pantry and the apples aren’t cut up.
- Snacks don’t always equal sugar – Sugar is everywhere today! It’s hard to escape it, but it is possible. Teach your kids that there are always either low sugar options or zero-sugar options. Some great examples are string cheese or vegetables with hummus.
Healthy Snacks On the Go
Making healthy snacks on the go for kids isn’t always easy, though. Who has enough time in the day to make a bountiful amount of yummy and healthy snacks? Not me, that’s for sure. But here’s a tip that applies to just about anything: PLAN AHEAD. If you know you’ve got a busy afternoon, running your son to tee-ball and then off to soccer, the night before, make some snacks that you can store in a little cooler or that don’t require refrigeration. Fortunately, Pinterest is a mom’s dream come true. I found some great recipe ideas and fun packaging ideas that make snacking healthy, delicious, and great for on the go.
Nutritional Recipe for On-The-Go: Yogurt Graham Crackers:
Dip graham cracker pieces into a fruit flavored yogurt ( I prefer greek yogurt because it’s a great source of protein) and then freeze over night.
Make these at least four hours before you plan to serve them so they have time to freeze. You can even assemble them a day or two ahead and store them, well wrapped, in the freezer.
1 package fat-free, sugar-free chocolate instant pudding mix
2 1/2 cups skim milk
2 tablespoons light chocolate syrup
1/2 cup colored sprinkles or small candies
10 wooden Popsicle sticks
10 small paper cups
- In a large bowl, blend pudding packet, milk, and chocolate syrup until thickened and thoroughly mixed.
- Place 10 paper cups on a baking sheet and spoon 1 teaspoon of sprinkles or candies into the bottom of each. Pour pudding mixture evenly into each cup. Cover with aluminum foil.
- Make a small hole in foil and insert a wooden stick into each pudding-filled cup.
- Place baking sheet in freezer for at least 4 hours (or until pudding pops are frozen). Remove foil and tear away paper cups to serve.
Yield: 10 pops
Per pop: 90 calories, 3 g protein: 14 g carbohydrates, 3 g fat, 2 g saturated fat, 0 mg cholesterol, 72 mg sodium, 0g fiber, 85 g calcium.
Sometimes, though, making healthy homemade snacks isn’t practical. I found on parenting.com some nutritional snacks you can find at the supermarket, that come in snack sizes and are perfect when going from place to place.
It’s never too late to instill healthy eating habits in your kids. Healthy snacking is a great way to get started. While making them homemade is ideal, its not always practical; supermarkets offer valuable options but be pay attention to the food labels to make sure that you’re snacks that have real nutritional value, not just empty calories.
Written by Emily Paquette.
Emily Paquette is a senior at Canisius College, majoring in French and Marketing. She is also a member of the Canisius College Women’s Soccer Program.