As a parent, especially during the summer months of unstructured days, you know the challenge you face on how to magically whet your child’s appetite for healthy and yummy snacks while finding ways to let your child help prepare the food and ultimately discover a fun snack food they will enjoy as they grow into the new school year.
When chosen carefully, snacks will help to satisfy hunger pains and provide essential nutrients. Keep it simple. Think convenience, great taste and snacks that are very easy to prepare.
Snacking well means following two simple rules:
Rule #1: Include at least one fruit or vegetable at each snack plus a nutritious second food like protein. Use a wide variety of vegetables and prepare them in diverse ways. Favor dark leafy greens and aim to serve an orange vegetable like carrots or yams daily. For veggie snacks, use pureed roasted vegetables such as red peppers, eggplant or onions for high flavor dips. Vary the expected celery and carrot sticks with jicama, cucumber or bell peppers. Nori, the edible seaweed wrapper around sushi, is tasty when wrapped about cucumber wedges. Healthy protein snacks include bean dips, low-fat string cheese, egg salad, meat kabobs and additive-free smoked salmon or sliced meat. Embellish cookie recipes with protein-rich ingredients like nuts, seeds and eggs.
Rule #2: Minimally processed foods should outnumber highly processed snack items. Whole grains are the carbohydrates to favor but only if they are still in their seed form, like brown rice, whole quinoa, millet or buckwheat. When eating an occasional sweet treat, go for naturally sweetened ones. Choose grain products like 100% whole wheat pita pockets or pasta.
Often children lack key nutrients found in whole foods like fruits and vegetables. Consider food source solutions for lacking nutrients when planning your family’s snack menu:
Fiber: Bananas, Avocados, Blueberries
Folate: Asparagus, Broccoli, Oranges
Magnesium: Beans, Dates, Artichokes
Vitamin A: Carrots, Spinach, Lettuce
Snacking right plays an important role for your family to snack their way to greater wellness this summer.
For even more energizing snack ideas, try the following:
- Fruit juice or fresh fruit, peanut butter and crackers
- Whole wheat bread sticks and low-fat cheese
- Cheerios, raisins and a cup of yogurt
- Fruit-filled crepe
- Low-fat granola
- Miniature raisin bagel with light cream cheese
- Soft microwave pretzel
- Three-bean salad
- Oven-baked tortilla chips and salsa
- Whole wheat fig bars
- Oatmeal raisin cookies or ginger snaps and low-fat milk
- Frozen fruit-juice bars and whole grain crackers
- Water-packed canned fruit and light cottage cheese
- Apple butter spread on a corn muffin
- Baby carrots
- Raw vegetables dipped in light dressing
- Pears, apples or cantaloupe dunked in honeyed yogurt
- Custard-style yogurt
- Fruit smoothie
- Dried cranberry and almond mix
- Quesadilla (soft tortilla and cheese)
- Air popped popcorn and freshly squeezed orange juice
- Bean burritos
- Hummus with pita points
- Cheese and veggie pizza
- Sunflower and pumpkin seeds
Guest Post by Kindy Peaslee, Registered Dietitian and Nutrition Coach and contributor to Everyday Health. She also loves creating family-friendly recipes at her personal nutrition site healthy-kid-recipes.com.
For summer healthy snacking or other recipes and nutritional information make sure to check out EverydayHealth.com.