A Healthy Spin for Snack Rotations
Most parents have experienced the inevitable sign up sheet for snack rotations for their child’s school, scout troop, or sports team. Many organizations limit snacks to packaged snacks for food safety reasons. They also ask parents to omit foods containing peanuts since this is the most common cause of allergic reactions in children.
The good news is there are many healthy choices available in supermarkets that children enjoy eating. Most of these foods are conveniently labeled so a parent can check to make sure products contain no nuts.
Quench Thirst with Nutrition
Organizations often ban soda and some are also specifically banning electrolyte replacements (like Gatorade) energy drinks and coffee containing drinks. These drinks are not appropriate for growing youngsters. Instead, choose from the following:
- Water – plain or flavored water with a splash of juice to entice picky tasters.
- Plain or flavored milk– fat free or low fat milk. Aim for unflavored first, most kids already get excess sugar added to everyday foods.
- Juice boxes or pouches – choose 100% juice with no added sugar, or a blend of 100 % juice and water. Avoid artificial sweeteners-some may cause adverse reactions. For more on this see Health Problems Associated with Sweetened Drinks.
- Yogurt drinks – choose 3-4oz bottles sweetened with fruit concentrates or sugar rather than high fructose corn syrup.
Snacks that make children go “Mmmmmm”
- Fruit- apples, oranges, bananas, pears, grapes, peaches, strawberries, plums
- Prepackaged fruit in its own juices
- Individually packed carrots, celery or pepper strips
- Individual no sugar added applesauce
- 100 calorie packs of whole grain crackers or whole grain pretzels
- Baked tortilla (yellow, white or blue) or whole wheat pita chips
- Whole grain cereal
- Trail mix with no added sugar or hydrogenated fats
- Mini whole grain pita or rice cakes
- Mini whole grain muffins
- Low Fat yogurt
- Low fat pudding as an occasional snack
- String or cubed cheese
- Single serving cottage cheese and fruit
- Shaved turkey or ham and slice of cheese “rolled up”
- Frozen 100% fruit bars
Good Things Come In Small Packages
Pair one of the following with an above item for variety and value-added nutrition. Most come individually packaged, or can be distributed to the group on small plates
- Nut* or soybean butter
- Fruit butters such as apple or pumpkin
- Raisins or dried cranberries or cherries
- Whipped low fat cream cheese
- Low fat yogurt
- Low fat vegetable dip (like Ranch)
- Bean dip
* Peanut butter is a great choice if allergies are not a concern for the group
Learn more about the health benefits of super foods as snacks.