Posted on by Paula Gallagher
Whether your kids are homeschooling, virtual learning or in class learning, I bet that snacks are a big part of the day. Snacks can make up the majority of your child's calories, so making sure that they are nutritious is important. With the abundance of commercially processed, high sugar and brightly colored foods available, it can be hard to teach kids about more natural, satisfying options. So when preparing snacks, combine nutritious food with a fun presentation that your kids will enjoy!
We are all busy parents and we are doing the best we can to make the best choices for our kids. And occasionally, our kids may eat Oreos or goldfish – and that's okay, too. The goal is to provide more nutritious options when possible, and maybe this will become more of a routine. In time, your kids may ask for carrots and hummus instead of cookies!
Healthy Snack Times
Children actually need good quality fats for cell growth, metabolism and brain development. They also need good quality protein for growth and immunity. With this in mind, “build” snacks that are more complex, that feature natural carbohydrates, proteins and essential fatty acids that are found in nuts, seeds and natural oils.
Snack time should include foods that will better support brain function, the immune system, and help stabilize blood sugar levels. At the same time, try to avoid giving your child the many preservatives, food dyes and refined sugar found in many packaged snacks for kids. One study found that almost 50% of children eat less than 2 servings of fruits per day and less than 1 vegetable per day. Snack time may be a great way to sneak in more fruits and vegetables!
Snacks help provide your child with energy needed to support attention, focus and concentration between meals. If given some thought, they can also help to stabilize blood sugar levels and and provide your child with added nutrients throughout the day to support health and well being.
Ideas for Healthy Snacks
1. Stuffed dates: Remove the pit from a date and carefully fill the inside with almond butter. Dates are naturally sweet and are also full of dietary fiber. Almond butter provides a good source of protein. Peanut butter is good, too!
2. Banana boats: Slice a bananas lengthwise, spread pumpkin seed butter on top and sprinkle with hemp and chia seeds. (My kids love this!) The hemp and chia seeds also provide a good dose of healthy fats, important for brain and heart health.
3. Apple and nut butter sandwiches: This is the perfect time of year for this, and it's especially good with tart apples! Thinly slice an apple, spread almond butter on one slice, sprinkle with hemp and chia seeds, and add another slice on top.
4. Fruit kabobs: Grab some fruit – berries, cantaloupe, apples, pineapple, kiwi, pears, grapes, etc. – and chop into cubes (if necessary), then thread onto a kabob stick.
5. Carrot spread and pita: A mom in my son’s class gave me this recipe and it’s a hit. Added bonus of sneaking in some veggies. This makes quite a bit of spread, so freeze in smaller containers and use in within 2 months.
Carrot Spread Recipe
- 2 lb bag of carrots, washed and chopped
- 2 cloves of garlic, chopped
- 2 tbsp tahini ¼ cup olive oil
- 2 Tbsp rice vinegar
- 1 Tbsp maple syrup or honey
- 1½ tsp cumin
- 1 tsp ginger
In a large pot with a steaming basket, steam the carrots until tender, about 20 to 30 minutes. Put all ingredients in a food processor with the cooked carrots and blend until smooth. Tastes great served on rice crackers or Mary’s Gone Crackers.
The Best Part
And the best part of all the above? Your kids can be involved in the snack making process. When kids are involved in making the meals, they are more likely to eat what they have prepared.
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