Children often need a snack between meals. They cannot take as much food as adults in one sitting and their energy needs are higher, so they need to eat more often. It is invaluable to have always something wholesome at hand.
Some healthy snacks for kids
Processed food is often too high in sugar and salt. Fresh food or home made treats are a much better option. Kids tend to like what other kids eat and your children may balk at your healthy treats when everyone else is having processed foods. It may seem to you too much of an effort. Fresh, wholesome food really makes a difference to their health – now and in the future – development, behavior and their ability to focus on a task. Choose fresh or home made food when possible.
healthy does not need to be boring. You have a wide choice. Let us go over some healthy snack ideas.
Healthy sweet snacks for kids
- Fruit - perfect ready made snack. All fruits are suitable and they will need little preparation, just wash and bite most of the times.
- Apples don't have to be boring, slice it up and spread peanut butter on the slices and sprinkle with raisins for a fun and healthy treat.
- Juice, but juice at home or be choosy about your juice and juice boxes, you want 100% juice not a "juice drink" as those can be loaded with added sugar and excess stuff that is really no better for you than sodas and other sugary drinks.
- Fruit and cheese or yogurt are a great combination.
- Make it a smoothie - nothing is more fun than a smoothie and it's a great way to give the kids some fresh fruit, add a scoop of yogurt and it's as filling as it is good!
- Wash a small apple, cut it into wedges and serve with one or two mozzarella sticks or 2 tablespoons of cream cheese dip. Pear slices, or pineapple chunks, and cheese cubes also make a great combination of fruit and dairy.
- Serve a bunch of grapes, about a dozen, and queso fresco.
- Serve any berries, about ten strawberries, over cottage cheese. Don’t be afraid to add one or two teaspoons of sugar.
- Yogurt with peeled fruit, cut up, applesauce or fruit spread.
- Cereal and milk – try to make it whole grain cereal and partly skimmed milk, more fiber, less fat.
- An ounce of chocolate with nuts and raisins or whole grain bread.
- Milk and one or two home made cookies, bran muffins, slice of fruitcake, or flapjacks. You can make sure that your home made cookies or cakes will not have any trans fats. If you don't like the idea of cookies, wholegrain digestive biscuits, or graham crackers, and milk are great for a mid morning snack, a small glass of milk and few graham crackers instead of sugary cookies to dunk.
- Make a milkshake or fruit smoothie with milk, frozen fruit, two teaspoons of sugar and two or three drops of vanilla extract.
Healthy savory snacks for kids
- Cheese and crackers.
- A small sandwich, just one slice of bread, made whit whole grain bread and deli meat, or the traditional peanut butter and jelly.
- Serve half a cup of tortilla chips with 1/3 cup of bean dip, bean salsa, or guacamole.
- Make a sandwich or salad with a small can of tuna with bread or crackers - feel free with lettuce ant tomato, careful with the mayonnaise.
- Half a cup of home made trail mix: ¼ roasted nuts, ¼ sunflower seeds ½ and raisins, for instance. Mix it up to your taste, make a snack mix from dried fruits, nuts, pretzels etc... let the kids help with this one and you can divide up into individual serving snack cups to grab and go in lunches and backpacks.
- Make a mini veggie tray - nothing is more fun after school than a plate of cold veggies with a bit of dip in the center. Serve 3/4 to 1 cup raw vegetables, cut into stripes, with hummus, peanut butter, eggplant dip, guacamole or low fat cheese.
- Traditional baked beans on toast.
- Quick melted cheese sandwich – toast one slice of bread in the toaster, place on slice of your favorite cheese on top and melt in the microwave - about 30 seconds in a 800 watts microwave.
- One cup of air popped popcorn. Air popped popcorn is probably one of the most popular and long lasting snacks for kids and grown ups alike, it's low fat and as long as you don't smother it in butter and salt it's a decent snack. If you want some more flavor on your popcorn sprinkle with cinnamon or other flavors
- Rice cakes with a flavored and colorful hummus spread can actually become a child's favorite pretty quickly, once they realize that hummus isn't as scary as it sounds.
- Wrap it up - grab some tortillas, cheese, lunch meat, whatever else you can find in the fridge and make snack wraps. Everything just tastes more fun as a "wrap" or a "roll up" and you can try this on the sweet side with peanut butter and jelly snack wraps.
Good habits for life
How would you tempt children to eat healthily? Lead by example. Try to make healthy snack choices – make some of the ideas we have mentioned part of your diet. If the kids see you enjoying wholesome food, they are more likely to appreciate it. That is all you can do, show them the way and encourage good habits.
If you're buying pre-packed individual serving snacks look for healthier options instead of the usual sugary frosted cookies in a bag, like yogurt cups, cheese sticks, gelatin, pudding cups, whole wheat crackers, etc. You cannot control all what your children eat. You can only give teach them how to choose the healthy options and hope they will do the same when on their own. Be sure if they learn the basis of healthy eating at home, it will influence the quality of their lives until old age.