“Mom, I’m hungry, can I have a snack?!” Sound familiar?
Children’s small bellies fill up fast and they burn energy quickly, so most children need a morning and afternoon snack. Snack time is a great opportunity to get in essential vitamins and nutrients that children may have missed during a meal, but finding something they will enjoy can often be a challenge. Keep these simple tips in mind to better prepare for snack planning.
· Try to incorporate a fruit or vegetable. And if needed, balance it with a healthy protein source or whole grain.
· Have veggies cut up and ready to grab and go! Vegetables are loaded with vitamins, minerals, and fiber and they are very low in calories. If your kids are nagging you for a snack right before dinner, pull out the veggie tray. They can’t possibly spoil their appetite for dinner by eating too many vegetables. If it’s a struggle, try pairing it with a dipping sauce that they enjoy.
· Keep a fruit bowl in your kitchen. The more exposure kids get to particular foods, the more likely they are to eat them. Keep the healthy food in sight and keep the junk behind closed doors – or just don’t buy it!
Next time your little one asks for a snack, try one of these healthy options that will keep them energized and happy:
Orange Yogurt Pops
Stir together equal amounts of peeled and chopped oranges and vanilla Greek yogurt. Spoon into Popsicle molds, insert sticks, and freeze until firm. These frozen pops deliver a healthy dose of vitamin C, calcium, and protein.
Peanut Butter (or any nut or seed butter) and Fruit or Veggies
Opt for the all-natural peanut butter. The only ingredients you should see on the jar label are peanuts and possibly salt – that’s it! Peanut butter pairs well with apples, bananas, celery, and baby carrots (may sound strange, but it’s delicious!).
Apple and Cheese Boats
Cut an apple into quarters. Attach a small cheese cube onto the apple with a toothpick. This is a great produce and protein snack!
String Cheese with Fruit or Vegetable
String cheese is portion controlled and an excellent source of calcium and protein. Pairing it with a fruit or vegetable makes it a winning combination!
Using half of a whole grain English muffin or whole grain mini bagel, you can create a tasty and well balanced energy rich snack. Use a jarred pizza sauce and mozzarella cheese made with part skim milk. Pile it high with healthy toppings such as olives, baby spinach, pineapple, or ham and bake.
Hummus with Veggies
Dip veggies into hummus! I recommend trying: baby carrots, cherry tomatoes, mini bell peppers, cucumber slices, snap peas, celery sticks, broccoli, cauliflower, or jicama.
Fruit Dipped in Yogurt
Slice up strawberries, apples, pears, or bananas. Use a vanilla, low fat yogurt to dip or mix the fruit in. For a different flavor twist and additional protein, add some all natural peanut butter to the yogurt first!
Kids love finger foods. Thread your kids’ favorite fruit on a skewer.
For more healthy eating ideas and suggestions for the whole family, visit the downtown Los Altos Safeway store (160 1st St.) to chat with El Camino Hospital’s Registered Dietitian Nutritionist, Sheri Berger. Sheri is in store every Monday and Thursday to deliver healthy food education and meal planning ideas to shoppers so they can make better nutritional and lifestyle choices. To schedule time with Sheri while you shop, email email@example.com. For a list of upcoming in-store educational sessions and supermarket tours, visit www.elcaminohospital.org/storeclasses.