Five Best Snacks For Kids
With their smaller stomachs, kids may not eat much in one sitting, but they do eat often. The problem is, children are not only notoriously picky eaters, and they will usually fight for sugary junk food.
It’s a constant struggle to find snacks that are both appetizing and good for them. Because many kids get about one-third of their daily calories from after-school snacks, these nibbles are as important as a balanced breakfast, lunch or dinner.
Perhaps your child would like an orange? Natural, sweet and good for you, fruit is a popular snack choice among kids and parents. OK, so maybe the youngsters don’t need as many as five a day, like the old saying goes, but kids do require about 1.5 cups of fruit per day. If you want to make fruit even more appetizing, try pairing it with low-fat, plain yogurt for dipping. Or stick some freshly washed grapes in the freezer for a cool snack on a hot, summer day.
HINT: Another popular alternative is dried fruit. If the label doesn’t list any additional ingredients to the fruit, such as sugar, much of the nutritional value remains the same.
Serve smoothies in parfait glasses for added appeal. Even the pickiest kids can’t resist fruit smoothies, which are naturally sweet and can be an excellent way to sneak nutrition into their diet. Beware of store-bought smoothies, however, which are usually full of added sugar. These end up carrying as many calories as a full meal (for a toddler). You might as well be giving them a milkshake [source: Bohn].
If you make the smoothies at home with fresh fruit such as bananas and strawberries, plain yogurt and low-fat milk, it’ll be a healthy source of calcium and protein.
HINT: If your child isn’t getting enough fibre or protein in his or her diet, add powder supplements to the smoothie.
Cereal and fruit: a winning combination! Cereal is a great source of fibre, which is filling and healthy. Unfortunately, many cereals that kids love are full of sugar. Consumer Reports investigated the sugar content of some brands and found that a bowl of Kellogg’s Honey Smacks serves up as much sugar as a glazed donut [source: Consumer Reports]. Several other popular kids’ cereals also had hefty amounts of added sweeteners.
The good news is that Consumer Reports rated several kid-oriented cereals as both low in sugar and nutritious.
FACT: Fibre helps with digestion and can also help lower cholesterol.
Peanut butter is full of healthy fats.Although high in fat, peanut butter is packed with fibre and protein. If your child has peanut allergies, you’ll have to steer clear of this snack choice. Such allergies have become increasingly prevalent in recent years, so it’s important to watch for evidence such as rashes around the mouth and face. But sometimes, more severe reactions occur, such as difficulty in breathing, which require immediate medical attention. If allergies aren’t a concern, kids love peanut butter spread on crackers or paired with different flavours of jelly for a classic PBJ. Try smearing peanut butter on a celery stalk and topping it with raisins to create a treat with flair – ants on a log.
HINT: Opt for natural peanut butter to avoid trans fats and added sugar.
Trail mix is a tasty snack you can tote anywhere. Instead of buying pre-assembled bags of trail mix at the store, try making your own at home. Not only is it a fun activity for the kids to participate in, it allows you to control the salt and sugar content. If you’re up for it, you can also make your own granola.
A great source of fibre, granola can also be high in sugar if you buy it at the store pre-made. In addition to granola, tasty – and healthy – ingredients include dried fruits, various nuts, unsweetened coconut flakes, peanuts, mini pretzels and pumpkin seeds or hulled sunflower seeds.
HINT: If you’re not worried about the added sugar, kids will love the addition of M&Ms or chocolate chips.