Last week I wrote about the importance of providing children with regular meals and snacks. Now it’s time to discuss the making of a healthy snack. Remember, eating between meals not only helps children meet their nutrition needs; it provides a bridge to the next meal.
The goal is to make a snack more like a mini meal. That means including a balance of carbohydrate, protein, and fat to help manage hunger and satisfy. So check out the food combinations below – it just might inspire you to come up with your own ideas.
1. Yogurt AND nuts, fruit or cereal. Yogurt is a great food for kids and even better when you add sliced almonds, fresh fruit or whole grain cereal. Look for yogurts with the Live and Active culture seal.
2. Whole wheat crackers AND cheese or peanut butter. One of my favorite cracker brands is Kashi’s TLC Original 7 Grain. It is great with cubed cheddar, a mozzarella cheese stick or even some peanut butter. Remember that peanut butter is a choking hazard for young children so use with caution and spread thin.
3. Fresh Fruit AND cubed cheese, milk or peanut butter. Fruit is a nutrient-rich snack but it doesn’t contain much fat or protein. Add some cheese, milk or peanut butter to help round it out.
4. Cereal AND milk or soy milk. Cereal doesn’t have to be just for breakfast. It makes an easy-to-prepare snack when combined with milk or a milk alternative. Look for cereals that are low in sugar with at least a good source of fiber (3 grams per serving)
5. Whole wheat bread or Pita AND deli meat/cheese, tuna or peanut butter/jelly. Mini sandwiches make a great in-between meal.
6. Raw veggies AND hummus, ranch, guacamole or any yogurt-based dip. Kids love to dip. Try cut up carrots, sugar snap peas, bell pepper or cucumber with your choice of dips. Remember that raw veggies can be choking hazards so if your child is not ready to eat them used steamed veggies or cut them very thin.
7. Muffins or sweet bread made with nuts. If you make your own muffins or sweet bread at home you can modify the recipe to contain extra fruit, less sugar, less fat (with added applesauce) and more nuts. See this fruit and veggie muffin recipe.
8. Smoothies. Blend fresh fruit, yogurt, greens, 100% juice, and ice to make a refreshing smoothie.
9. Cookies and milk. Snack time doesn’t always have to be about fruits and vegetables. On occasion, make cookies with added raisins, nuts and oats.
10. Mini Pizzas. Take whole wheat English muffins and top with marinara sauce, grated cheese and any topping (veggies/meat). Put in the toaster oven and you have a tasty in-between-meal treat!