Healthful Snacks for Kids
by Katie Beltramo
How to get your snack-hungry kids to fill their bodies with the good fuel? You don't need to spend tons of time devising adorable food sculptures, just stock up on these supplies so that you have easy-to-prepare snack ideas, anytime.
Apples and Cheese
My kids love this snack, and once they've established some cutting skills, your kids will be happy to help prepare this one. Have a cheese slicer on hand to make it easier.
If you don't have any allergy concerns, high-protein, "good fat"' options like peanut, almond or cashew butters are great with apples, celery, or grains. These can be expensive, so have a nut butter tasting with friends so that you can choose which nut butters appeal to your family. You can also try sunflower seed butter or soynut butter.
Speaking of sunflower, seeds are another great nutritious choice. Did you know that an ounce of pumpkin seeds packs about 5 grams of protein? Seeds are also super-portable, so you can throw a pouch in your purse or in your glove compartment for noshing emergencies. Buy seeds with no salt added: you can always add a bit of salt or seasoning if you need it.
Frozen Fruits or Vegetables
Frozen peas, corn, or cubed carrots or squash pack a nutritious punch and it's a quick-and-easy snack to bring out anytime. Frozen berries, grapes, and bananas are also popular with kids, and freezing these fruits is a great option to avoid waste if they didn't go fast enough from your fruit basket.
Made up of juices, yogurt or milk and produce, smoothies are fun and popular with kids. Our household favorite contains 100% juice, frozen strawberries & blueberries, and baby spinach. The kids don't even notice the spinach.
Yogurt and Berries
Skip the flavored yogurts and choose plain or low-sugar vanilla yogurt and combine it with the frozen berries that you'll no doubt begin keeping in your freezer if you haven't already.This is one of my daughters' all-time favorites for snacking and breakfasts.
This one even baffles me, but I noticed that whenever I was cooking with a can of beans, my kids would try to steal a few. So I decided to embrace it. The mild flavor appeals to kids, and the high fiber and protein make cannellini, kidney, and other beans a terrific easy snack. Just rinse them an put them in a bowl.
In the beans-from-a-can snack family, my kids' favorite is chickpeas, but far more glorious are roasted chickpeas. Toasted to crunchiness and seasoned with spices, roasted chickpeas are so delicious that you'll be fighting over them with the kids the first time, and doubling the recipe the next.
Fruit and Vegetable Chips
Dehydrating fruits and vegetables leaves in plenty of nutrients and transforms the everyday stuff into snacking gold. At our house, we use the microwaveable Topchips Chip Maker to make sweet potato chips that are a delicious alternative to greasy bagged chips.
Another excellent chip alternative, try spraying popcorn with a bit of olive oil and sprinkling with rosemary or Parmesan cheese instead of butter and salt. I know that this sounds crazy, but I've witnessed entire classrooms of children eating this happily.
Your kids insist that they're hungry, but you suspect boredom's part of the problem? Hand them some nutcrackers and let them get to work on harvesting some walnuts or almonds from a shell. This is another snack that has great do-it-yourself fun potential for kids.
Keep in mind that kids love to feel grown-up enough to do their own food preparation, plus you don't have tons of time. So keep it simple!
© 2013 Katie Beltramo.
Katie Beltramo, a mom of two, is editor of Kids Out and About--Albany. She also blogs at Capital District Fun.