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, they’ll 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. Here are 10 healthy snack ideas that kids will love.
Natural, sweet and good for you, fruit is a popular snack choice among kids and parents. Kids 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. 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 but with a higher caloric density.
Cereal is a great source of fiber, It is, both, filling and healthy. Fiber helps with digestion and can also help lower cholesterol. Unfortunately, many cereals that kids love are full of sugar. Some brands such as a bowl of Kellogg’s Honey Smacks serves up as much sugar as a glazed donut. However, several other kid-oriented cereals such as Cheerios (regular and Honey Nut varieties), Kix and Life as both low in sugar and nutritious.
8. Peanut Butter:
Although high in fat, peanut butter is packed with fiber and protein. If your child has peanut allergies, you’ll have to steer clear of this snack choice. If allergies aren’t a concern, kids love peanut butter spread on crackers or paired with different flavors of jelly. Try smearing peanut butter on a celery stalk and topping it with raisins to create a treat with flair — ants on a log. Opt for natural peanut butter to avoid trans fats and added sugar.
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. 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.
Rich in vitamins and fiber, applesauce can be a healthy snack and another way to get kids to eat their fruit. Again, low-sugar varieties are best. After the infant and toddler years, a glob of mushy applesauce may sound boring and bland to your young ones. To mix it up and make it more palatable for kids, freeze individual portions to make applesauce popsicles or add cinnamon and stir in raisins or nuts. As it turns out, cinnamon is not only a delicious spice, its health benefits are nothing to sneeze at. It could help lower blood sugar in addition to helping lower cholesterol.
5. Mini Pizza:
Every Kid loves pizza. For a quick, healthy snack at home, toast up an English muffin (the whole-wheat variety is best), and add some tomato sauce and low-fat mozzarella cheese. You can make your own simple tomato sauce using tomato paste and seasonings, such as oregano and garlic. Whipping up mini-pizzas can be a fun activity for kids, too. Allow them to choose and arrange their own toppings on their individual muffins. Give them choices of veggies, such as bell peppers or mushrooms.
4. Snack Mix:
Toss together a healthy combo of nuts, pretzels, whole grain cereal, banana chips, and popcorn for a handy, portable snack. Nuts contain must-have minerals such as magnesium, iron, and zinc. Enjoy your kids help and make up one of your own yummy combinations!
Low-fat yogurt is an excellent source of calcium, and children love it dressed up. To add taste and nutritional value, whip up a yogurt parfait with berries and granola or make a homemade fruity yogurt pop that beats sugary store-bought frozen treats any day.
A good source of calcium, cheese is also versatile and goes with plenty of things kids love. String cheese is a popular favorite, as are grilled cheese sandwiches. Cheese and crackers are also a filling snack. But avoid the store-bought cheese and cracker packages. It should be no surprise that these aren’t made with real cheese, but with what’s called cheese food. The crackers are baked with refined white flours, which aren’t too healthy either. Instead, nutrition experts recommend making cheese and cracker snacks at home with real cheese and whole-wheat crackers.
When it’s not drenched in butter and salt, popcorn is actually a very healthy snack for kids. It’s packed with whole grains and fiber. Studies have shown that these grains may lower your chances of developing diabetes and heart disease. The problem is, kids usually aren’t as excited to eat plain popcorn. So to make the healthy version more appetizing, some people like to sprinkle cinnamon on top. Another popular alternative is garlic, in crushed or powder form. Although it won’t do any favors for your breath, garlic supposedly helps lower cholesterol.