Are you looking for ways to fuel your family the proper (and delicious) way?
I am frequently asked “What should I give my child for a snack?” That is a great question because snacks are important, particularly for our busy children who participate in after school activities and weekend sports. Snacks are essential because they refuel our bodies and add nutrients that are needed for growth and health. With that in mind, we should fuel our active kids with foods that prepare them for all of their activities. For example, if your child is going from school to sports class, you will want to give him or her a snack that contains whole grains and a little protein.
Choose Nutrient-Dense Foods
A healthy diet should mostly focus on nutrient-dense foods. These are foods that are loaded with nutrients but not calories. Your child deserves the best so that they can be successful in their daily activities. Nutrient-dense foods are packed with power! Whole grains are carbohydrates that provide sustained energy for our body. Fruits and veggies and are also carbohydrates that are colorful and packed with “fight-o-chemicals”. The Super Crew loves these! Protein is necessary for growth and development, and healthy fats keep our hearts and brains happy! Here are a few quick snack options that include all three:
- Peanut butter and all-fruit jelly sandwich on whole-wheat bread
- Hummus on whole wheat pita bread or a spelt tortilla
- Raw veggies with hummus
- Salsa or bean dip with corn tortilla chips
- Fresh fruit with low-fat or non-fat yogurt
Potato chips are not nutrient-dense and are “empty calories” loaded with fat and contain no nutritional value. They are okay once in a while- for a birthday party or sleepover for instance, but should not be an everyday choice.
What About Desserts? Yes, Desserts Can Be Fun And Healthy!
- Instead of cookies or cake, try our family favorite, a fresh fruit parfait with yogurt
- Switch off between adding chocolate sauce and granola (or a crumbled granola bar)
- Chocolate pudding made with low-fat or nonfat milk is always fun and provides much-needed calcium
- Fruit flavored milkshakes made with your child’s favorite fruit and low-fat or nonfat milk are also calcium boosters. (Note: If you use soy milk, be certain that it is calcium-fortified.)
Quick Mini Meals and Fresh Packed Snacks
What happens if you are not around to give your child a freshly made snack? A little bit of planning can go a long way. Use the “fresh snacks” and “backpack-ready snack” lists below when planning your child’s snacks. Some of these snack items are packaged items that you will find in the supermarket like those listed below. Read the label and avoid items that contain high fructose corn syrup, partially hydrogenated oils/trans fat, sugar listed as the first ingredient, or fat, cholesterol or sodium daily value greater than 10%. Here’s to healthy snacking!
(to be made at home and/or place in a freezer bag with an ice pack)
- Raw vegetables, such as celery, carrots, cauliflower, broccoli, green pepper, green beans, cucumbers, mushrooms or zucchini with hummus, salsa or bean dip.
- Whole wheat bread/pita with nut butter* or hummus.
- Whole wheat crackers with low-fat cheese
- Whole wheat wrap with chicken breast, turkey, vegetables, nut butter or hummus.
- Low fat or nonfat yogurt with fruit (total 1 cup)
- Low fat (1%) or non-fat (Cabot brand tastes good) cottage cheese with fruit (total: 1 cup)
- Shakes with low fat or nonfat milk or yogurt and fruit (1 cup)
- Pre-portioned low-fat or non-fat pudding (1 individual serving)
- Pre-portioned oatmeal made with non-fat or low-fat milk and 1/2 cup raisins
- Mozzarella “string-cheese”
- Hard-boiled egg
(will stay fresh all day without refrigeration)
- Raw vegetables
- Fresh fruit such as apples, oranges, bananas, peaches, grapefruit, grapes, melons, pears, plums or strawberries.
- Pre-packaged all-natural applesauce
- Pre-packaged unsweetened fruit juice (1/2 cup)
- Dried fruit (1/4 cup) or dried vegetables (1/2 cup)
- Walnuts or other nuts (1 oz)
- Pretzels (1 oz)
- Rice cakes (2)
- Whole grain fig cookies (example, Fig Newmans) (2)
- Graham crackers (2)
- Whole-grain cereal (3/4 cup)
- Whole-grain granola bars (example, Kashi brand)