Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Tips for Healthier Snacking-Kid Style


In my constant quest to find after school snacks, I came up with a few ways that might help you, too!

Give your kids a say. Offer comparable choices, such as regular or frozen yogurt, celery or carrots, whole-grain toast or whole grain crackers, apples or oranges. Better yet, recruit your children's help at the grocery store when you're selecting snacks or in the kitchen when you're assembling snacks.

Designate a snacking zone. Restrict snacking to the kitchen. You'll save your children countless calories from mindless munching in front of the TV.

Make it quick. If your children need to snack on the go, think beyond a bag of potato chips. Offer a handful of almonds, walnuts or sunflower seeds, string cheese, yogurt sticks, cereal bars or other drip-free items.

Don't be fooled by labeling gimmicks. Foods marketed as low-fat or fat-free can still be high in calories. Likewise, foods touted as cholesterol-free can still be high in fat, saturated fat and sugar. Check nutrition labels to find out the whole story.

Go for the grain. Whole-grain snacks - such as whole grain pretzels or tortillas and low-sugar, whole-grain cereals can give your children energy with some staying power. I find that Kashi cereals are a super source of fiber and protein!

Out of sight, out of mind. If the cookie jar is full, your children will probably clamor for cookies. But if there is fresh fruit or raw veggies instead, these may seem more appealing. Try putting some fruit in a beautiful bowl in the center of the table for better "grabbing".

Play with your food. Ask your children to make towers out of whole-grain crackers, spell words with pretzel sticks, or make funny faces on a plate using different types of fruit. Use a tablespoon of almond or peanut butter as glue.

Think outside the box. Offer something new, such as fresh pineapple, cranberries, red or yellow peppers, or roasted soy nuts. Slice a whole-wheat pita and serve with hummus.

Mix and Match. Serve baby carrots or other raw veggies with fat-free ranch dressing. Dip graham cracker sticks or fresh fruit in fat-free yogurt. Top celery, apples or bananas with peanut butter.

Revisit breakfast. Many breakfast foods - such as low-sugar, whole-grain cereals and whole-grain toast make great afternoon snacks. Again, Kashi is a good choice!

Use the freezer. Mix mashed bananas and peanut butter, spread between graham crackers and freeze. For a new twist on old time favorites, freeze grapes or peeled bananas, or fill an ice cube tray with juice or pudding.

Have fun. Use a cookie cutter to make shapes out of low-fat cheese slices, whole-grain bread or tortillas. Eat diced fruit with chopsticks. give snacks funny names. try the classic "ants on a log" celery topped with peanut butter and raisins or make up your own.

Sweeten it up. Healthy snacks don't need to be bland. To satisfy your child's sweet tooth, offer frozen yogurt or frozen fruit bars.

Pull out the blender. Use skim milk, fat-free yogurt, ground up flax seeds, a dash of flax oil and fresh fruit to make your own smoothies. Smoothies are a great way to "hide" the good stuff.

Promote independence. Make it easy for older children to help themselves. Keep a selection of ready to eat veggies in the refrigerator. Leave fresh fruit in a bowl on the counter. Store low-sugar, whole-grain cereal in an easily accessible cabinet, and stock fruit packaged in its own juice.

Remember your leftovers. A small serving of last night's casserole might make a great snack.

Drinks count too. Offer your children plenty of water between meals. Liven it up with shaped ice cubes, a crazy straw or a squirt of lemon, cranberry or other fruit juice.

Keep it safe. Make sure your childrens snacks are age appropriate. Never give foods that pose a choking hazard such as nuts, raisins, whole grapes or popcorn to children younger than age 4.

Practice what you preach. Let your children catch you munching raw vegetables or snacking on a bowl of grapes.

Be patient. Your childrens snacking habits may not change overnight. Look for positive changes over weeks or months.

Happy Snacking!

13 comments:

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