I've asked my new friend, Lisa Byrne, to do a guest post about healthy snacking, a subject I don't know enough about. It's tough to keep the requests for Cheetos and Little Debbie's at bay if you don't have some good alternatives on hand, and she's just the person to help us out. My creativity runs out after a bag of baby carrots from Costco. Surely there's more to it.
Here's Lisa's post:
Healthy Snacking for Kids
Now that school is out and the warm, long days of summer are here, we may be hearing constant requests for snacks all day long.
Outdoor activity, sunshine and easy access to the kitchen can make kids want to eat a lot more than three meals a day. Instead of fighting it, I use this increase in snacking as an opportunity to get some good nutrition in.
To me, there is a big difference between a snack and a treat. I think of snacks as mini-meals. Quick to eat and can often travel well. Treats, on the other hand, are special occurrences, and are shared after we've had our meal. My rule is that we can only have a treat when we've eaten food that keeps us strong and healthy.
Sometimes it's all in the words we use...my kids are much more likely to eat a "snack" I've prepared, then to come in for "lunch." Even when they are the same exact thing!
This is a plan that has been working for my family. We all have breakfast together. Then I provide healthy snack options throughout the day-- about every 2 hours, and forgo a formal lunch. Then we all sit down and share a proper dinner together. After dinner they can have a "treat", which is often a few chocolate chips, ice cream or a cookie.
Here are some "snack" ideas that are big on nutrition but small in size. Perfect for keeping our little ones energized and going throughout the day.
The Veggie Platter
- This is a mainstay in my kitchen. Every night I cut up a few veggies and arrange them on a small platter. I have this in the refrigerator and we all snack on it throughout the day. It's the first thing we reach for when we need a little crunch and it helps get lots of veggies in.
- You could put a little bowl of healthy ranch dressing out as well. I normally have red pepper, cucumber, celery, carrots and cauliflower on the plate.
The Fruit Plate
- Just like the veggie plate, I'll also set up a plate full of washed and cut up fruit to have available through the day. Sliced apples, berries, melon cubes, pineapple chunks are all great quick grabs for healthy snacking.
Veggie Pizza Triangles
- Pizza freezes well, so I often will make an extra pie and load up on the veggies when we have pizza night for dinner. After the pizza cools I'll cut it into small triangles, arrange them on wax paper, slide into a ziplock and then freeze. I can easily grab a few triangles and warm it in the toaster oven for a quick snack.
- Great toppings are diced summer squash, black olives, spinach or red pepper.
- Wraps travel really well, they are my favorite snack to bring when we go to the park or a day trip. I start by spreading cream cheese on a whole wheat or corn tortilla. Then layer your toppings (which can be almost anything at all). Some ideas are sliced turkey breast and thin strips of red pepper, shredded carrot and raisins, avocado and cheese. Mix and match to see what your kids will like.
- Another helpful tip with wraps is once they are rolled, cut them into inch long pieces. Then put a toothpick in them and serve as an hors d'oeuvres. I don't know why but kids love anything with toothpicks in them!
Smoothies and Smoothie Pops
- Smoothies are a favorite in my house. We blend up frozen berries, yogurt, a dark leafy green like kale or swiss chard, and water. I call them our Superhero Smoothies and my kids slurp them up with a straw every day.
- I also fill up popsicle molds and freeze them for healthy frozen pops in the summer.
Hot-Air Popped Popcorn
- If kids just want that traditional snack-y feel, I tend to opt for fresh hot-air popped popcorn. Sprinkle with some butter and Parmesan for a yummy snack.
- There are a lot of healthy muffin recipes out there. I like these pumpkin muffins. Muffins with pumpkin or sweet potato puree turn out moist and nutrient packed. Make mini ones for quick and easy snacks.
- Any sandwich cut in small squares (and possibly served with a toothpick!) is pretty attractive to kids :) We love nut butter and jam (peanut, cashew or almond butters are all great). Cream cheese and cucumber. Mini grilled cheeses. Turkey and avocado. Hummus and tomato. What are your favorites?
Apple Sauce and Cottage Cheese
- I love cottage cheese for the high protein content and creamy, sweet taste. Pair a small bowl of cottage cheese with a dollop of apple sauce or mix in raisins and sunflower seeds (may seem odd, but oh it's heavenly!).
Yogurt and Granola
- A bowl of yogurt topped with healthy granola is a nice snack anytime. If you use plain yogurt you could top with a bit of honey for a sweet taste.
By offering smaller portions of healthy options throughout the day, your kids will be filling up and fueling up with healthy nutrients. I've shared some more thoughts on helping kids grow into healthy eaters in this post if you’re interested.
Building healthy eating and snacking habits is a skill that will benefit our kids their whole lives. Here's to a fun-filled healthy summer!
Lisa Byrne is a holistic health coach who blogs at The Well Grounded Life helping busy moms take great care of themselves.
Today's Small Thing is to have a healthy snack. Hey! Points for eating!! I like it. Take one of Lisa's suggestions or use one of your own favorites to create a snack for yourself or for your kids. I loved her distinction between "snacks" and "treats" and wish I'd read that before I'd eaten a Twix bar. But it made me think twice about going for a cookie later, since I'd already had my treat. Cool! POINTS: 40 for having/serving a healthy snack - your choice!
BONUS POINTS: 20 for considering downloading Lisa's free e-workbook, "Break the Sugar Habit." It's available on her blog...did I mention that it's FREE? I'm going through my copy right now.