Snacking is a major pastime for kids and adults. It can help you and your children curb hunger throughout the day, as well as provide energy and nutrients. But the quality of your children's snacks is key. Consider these tips:
1. Give your kids a say. Offer comparable choices such as celery or carrots, sprouted toast or whole-grain crackers, apples or pears, cheese sticks or sliced cheese. Try to involve your children's help at the grocery store when you're selecting snacks or in the kitchen when you're preparing snacks.
2. Designate a snacking zone--a shelf or an area of the fridge where kids can grab things themselves.
3. If your children need to snack on the go, think beyond chips and cookies. Offer cheese, hummus, hard boiled eggs, whole grain crackers, nuts, raisins, goji berries, sliced chicken or beef from last night’s dinner.
4. Read and understand labels and marketing. Foods marketed as low fat or fat-free can still be high in sugar and chemicals. Likewise, foods touted as cholesterol-free can still be high in fat, saturated fat and sugar. Read the back of the box not the advertising in front
5. Whole-grain snacks not stripped of fiber such as whole-grain pretzels or tortillas and low-sugar, whole-grain cereals can give your children energy with some staying power. Especially paired with homemade guacamole or salsa.
6. Serve them fresh fruit or raw veggies with some thing to dip them in is always fun for kids. My kids love dipping anything!
7. Have your children to make towers out of whole-grain crackers, spell words with whole grain pretzel sticks or make funny faces on a plate using different types of fruit. Use a tablespoon of peanut butter or almond butter as glue.
8. Think outside the box. Offer something new, such as fresh pineapple, cranberries, bell peppers or roasted soy almonds.
9. Top celery, apples and bananas with peanut butter.
10. Many breakfast foods such as low-sugar, whole-grain cereals and whole-grain toast make great afternoon snacks.
11. Mix mashed bananas and peanut butter, spread between graham crackers and freeze. For a new twist on old snack-time favorites - freeze grapes or peeled bananas, or fill an ice cube tray with fresh watermelon juice or smoothies.
12. Use a cookie cutter to make shapes out of cheese, whole-grain bread or whole-grain tortillas. Eat diced fruit with chopsticks. Give snacks funny names. Try the classic "ants on a log" - celery topped with peanut butter and raisins
13. Healthy snacks don't need to be bland. To satisfy your child's sweet tooth, bake goods such as oatmeal cookies, banana breads, pumpkin breads, and brownies.
14. Make your own smoothies. See my smoothie recipe from last week!
15. 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. Have bowls of nuts out.
16. Offer plenty of water between meals. Liven it up with shaped ice cubes, a crazy straw, or a squirt of fruit juice.
17. Be a role model. Let your children catch you munching raw vegetables or snacking on a bowl of grapes.
18. Be patient. Your children's snacking habits may not change overnight.
Teaching your children to make healthy snack choices now will determine how they eat in the future.