Healthy Snacks: Tasty Ideas for Kids
Not only do snacks ensure that kids have enough energy to get through the day, but they also help kids get their daily nutritional requirements. That's why snacks should be as healthy as possible, says Mary Trotter, a dietitian with Nemours Health & Prevention Services in Newark, Del.
She encourages parents to prepare healthy snacks and serve them at the kitchen table.
"Snacks really should not be offered in front of the TV," she says. "It really is another meal –- a time to visit with parents or siblings."
If your children are reluctant to eat healthy snacks, tell them it will make a difference when they are playing soccer, tennis, baseball or whatever their interest is, says Elisa Zied, past spokeswoman for the American Dietetic Association.
"Don't talk about it terms of health," says Zied, author of "Nutrition at Your Fingertips." "Tell them filling your body with a lot of foods that have beneficial things can help you perform better."
If your children have been in the habit of eating junk food, try offering them a similar -- but healthier -- alternative, says Trotter.
- Granola bars for donuts
- Popcorn for potato chips
- Sorbet for ice cream
- Dried cherries or mangos for Fruit Roll-Ups
- Seltzer with a splash of juice for soda
Other healthy snacks ideas:
- Fruit: Don't forget about canned, frozen and dried fruits with no added sugars. Try freezing grapes or buy frozen blueberries, strawberries, peaches, mangoes and melon. But be careful when offering fruit leather or snacks because some brands of fruit snacks are more like candy than fruit. You can also get kids to help make a fruit salad and use a variety of colored fruits to add to the appeal.
- Vegetables: Serve with low-fat salad dressings, store-bought light dips, bean dips, guacamole, hummus, salsa or peanut butter. Also, try to make a salad or set out veggies like a salad bar and let the kids build their own salads.
- Soy: Edamame are fun to eat and easy to serve. Heat frozen edamame in the microwave for about 2-3 minutes.
- Healthy grains: Though most kids eat plenty of grain products, too many of those grains are cookies, snack cakes, sugary cereals and other refined grains that are high in sugars or fat. Serving mostly whole grains is a good idea. It provides more fiber, vitamins, and minerals than refined grains.
Correction, January 5, 2011: The original article incorrectly stated that Eliza Zied is the spokeswoman for the American Dietetic Association. She is a past spokeswoman.
Start by teaching him that it is safe to do so.