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Grab-n-Go Snacks for Toddlers

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Dozens of snacks marketed for toddlers are available at your local grocer, but many of
them are processed with less wholesome and health promoting ingredients. Help your child develop healthy eating habits by making your own nutritious snacks. With a little planning, creativity, and preparation, a nutritious snack is within reach!

Plan First:
Before heading off to do your weekly grocery shopping, make a list of some of your toddler’s favorite snacks, or think of some new ones he/she may like to try. Look up ideas from your favorite cookbook or magazine, or try our ideas below. Make sure to include the ingredients on your grocery list.

Get Creative:
Here are some nutritious ideas to arm your grab-n-go snack arsenal. Where an asterisk (*) is found, please note that these snacks must be kept at a safe temperature (less than 40°F) to prevent spoilage. Keep these snacks in a refrigerator, cooler or insulated lunch sack with ice.

  • PB&J sandwich made with almond butter and fruit preserves
  • Steamed and cooled edamame (soy beans)
  • Bell pepper strips, cucumber slices and baby carrots dipped in hummus*
  • Cut up fresh fruit dipped in yogurt*
  • Dried fruit (try sulfite-free dried apricots, cranberries or dates)
  • Homemade trail mix made with cereal, dried fruit, nuts or seeds, shaved coconut and chocolate chips
  • Homemade zucchini muffins (or any homemade muffin of choice made with diced fruit, grated vegetables, even pumpkin puree!)
  • Mixture of raisins or dried cranberries and oatmeal squares (or O’s) cereal
  • Whole grain crackers topped with your child’s favorite cheese*

Prepare:
A little time spent preparing and assembling snacks for the day or week ahead can shave hours from your hectic week.

  • Keep a stash of recycled margarine or cottage cheese containers and lids, snack size baggies, or reusable containers on-hand for easy storage.
  • Portion your snacks into these containers and refrigerate or line in your pantry to make a healthy grab-n-go treat available anytime!

Healthy Tips to Consider:
To make sure your growing toddler’s snacks provide the biggest nutritional bang for your buck, include at least two of the following key nutrients:

  • Healthy Carbohydrates: A much-needed source of energy for your toddler, choose minimally processed carbohydrates, like whole grain cereals, crackers or bread, fresh whole fruits or vegetables.
  • Protein: Necessary for your toddler’s growing body, include healthy protein sources like cheese, milk, yogurt, chicken breast or beans.
  • Healthy Fats: Most store-bought snack foods contain an imbalance of unhealthy fats. Avoid the saturated-fat trap by providing nuts, seeds, nut butters, olives, or avocados as snacks.

See Snack Emergency. for more snack ideas.

 



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About the Author

Melissa Ohlson is a registered dietitian and a certified personal trainer from the American Council on Exercise (ACE) living and working in Cleveland, Ohio. She is currently working as the Nutrition Projects Coordinator for the Department of Preventive Cardiology and Rehabilitation at the Cleveland Clinic and writes nutrition articles for local and national publications, conducts "Ask the Dietitian" questions for The Cleveland Clinic Heart Center Web site, and lectures on nutrition and cardiovascular disease to colleagues, communities, the corporate sector and at the collegiate level. She also assists in the development of nutrition related research studies and coordinates a community-based "Cooking for Your Heart" culinary program.. Previously, Melissa provided coronary risk reduction programs, seminars, and nutrition counseling at various corporations throughout the Cleveland metropolitan area. Also an avid runner, Ms. Ohlson believes in the prevention power of a lifestyle that incorporates regular physical activity and a healthy diet rich in plant-based foods such as fruits, vegetables and whole grains.


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