Three square meals a day may be enough to keep adults happy and healthy, but it won’t surprise parents that hungry, growing kids may need more! Snacks spaced throughout the day are a great way to keep your little one’s fuel tank full…if kids reach for energy-building foods. It is not enough, of course, to simply steer kids away from well-known unhealthy snacks (we’re looking at you, potato chips); their bodies need nutrition that will keep their growth and development on track.
Here are some fun, easy suggestions for what you can do to keep your kids coming back for more snacks that not just good, but good for kids!
Fruit-sicles – This snack is a great way to make a healthy smoothie into a cool dessert-style treat! Just mix up a smoothie by blending yogurt with a delicious fruit or two (ex. Raspberries, blueberries, pineapple, etc.). Then pour the smoothie into an ice cube tray. Insert Popsicle sticks into each cube before putting the whole mix into the freezer. Once frozen, gently break each Fruit-sicle out of the tray and serve!
Tortilla Pizza – Small and tasty, these individual pizzas are a special snack for your kids. Spread salsa and a thin layer of shredded cheddar cheese over small corn or whole grain tortillas. Cook your personal pizzas on a foil-lined tray in a toaster oven. When the edges are brown and the cheese is melted, you’ll know it’s pizza time!
Good-For-You Milkshake – A milkshake doesn’t have to be an empty calorie, ice cream treat. Try this healthier alternative. Slice up 1 cup of frozen banana. Mix the bananas in a blender with 1 cup of 1% low-fat chocolate milk, ½ cup of low-fat vanilla frozen yogurt, 2 tbsp. of peanut butter, and 8 oz. of low-fat vanilla yogurt. Blend the entire mix until the milkshake is smooth and ready to serve.
Baked sweet potato fries – Healthier than regular fries, these soft sweet potato fries make a great, warm snack. Cut sweet potatoes into one-inch wedges. Mix together 2 tbsp. olive oil, 1 ½ tsp. chili powder, and 1 tsp. kosher salt, then brush the potato wedges with the seasoned oil. Bake in a pan at 425 degrees for 20-25 minutes, until the fries are soft. These delicious little sweeties still go great with ketchup!
Frozen Yogurt Bananas – Cut a banana into four pieces and dip them in plain yogurt. Roll the yogurt covered bananas in crush whole-grain graham crackers. Then place the bananas on a plate in the freezer and wait for the yogurt to solidify before eating.
Cookie Cutters Aren’t Just for Cookies– Not all healthy snacks require a stove or freezer. Sometimes it’s just a matter of packaging simple, healthy foods in new, fun ways! For a fun snack, try taking your cookie cutters to pieces of cheese or fruit. These fun shaped snacks can then be laid out on plates to make a cute little picture, or be served on skewers to eat like kabobs. Either way, it makes healthy fruit and cheese into something special!
All of the above snacks are a great way to shake up snack time, without trading away nutritional value. Don’t be afraid to look at your family’s own snack time favorites and ask yourself if there are any alterations that could make it more nutritious. Could ingredients of chocolate be replaced with protein packed peanut butter? Could the snack’s bread or wrap be replaced with a whole wheat version? Is there a low-fat variety available for any of your snack’s ingredients? You’ll be surprised how quickly these little tweaks become second nature when fixing snacks. And your kids will be surprised how something so delicious can be this nutritious!