Healthy Snacks for Kids

By Stacey Meneilly, RD, CDN, CNSC

Because a child’s body is still growing and developing, proper nutrition is crucial. Healthy snacks provide extra energy to fuel the body and can also provide essential vitamins and nutrients. Most children need two to three healthy snacks each day in addition to three meals. Smaller children’s snacks should consist of around 100 calories per snack, while more active teens may need around 300 calories per snack. It is important to pay attention to a child’s hunger cues.

With childhood obesity on the rise, it is necessary to minimize unhealthy snacks, such as cookies, candies, soda and potato chips that add calories while providing little in the way of nutrition. Encouraging healthy snacks for your children has long term benefits because what your child is eating now influences what or how they will eat later in life. Keep junk food out of the house.  If you don’t keep junk food on hand, your child wont be urged to eat it. It is also important to set a good example by choosing healthy snacks yourself.

Think of snacks as small meals. Choose foods from the various food groups, like fruits, vegetables, low fat dairy, lean meats, whole grains and healthy drinks.

Planning ahead can help you make healthy choices. It may be helpful to make a grocery list ahead of time based on snack selections.

Here is a list of some healthy snack choices that don’t require a tremendous amount of planning:

Ants on a Log: simply spread peanut butter on celery and place raisins on top. It’s simple and kids love it.

 Guacamole with whole grain crackers or veggie spears: use whole grain crackers or vegetables like carrots, peppers or zucchini slices to dip in guacamole

 Apples and Peanut Butter: Spread peanut butter on apple slices

 Edamame: Available fresh or frozen, these soy beans are easy to cook

 Pita Pizza Pocket: Cut whole wheat pita in half. Fill each pita half with pizza sauce, mozzarella cheese and pepperoni slices or veggies. Microwave for 30 to 60 seconds.

Pita Chips with Hummus: Use pita chips to dip with your hummus.

Half of a sandwich/wrap with a glass of milk: Prepare a half of a turkey, ham or peanut butter and jelly sandwich on whole wheat and serve with a glass of skim or low fat milk.

Greek or Regular Yogurt: served with mixed fruit

Bowl of Whole Grain Cereal: with low fat or skim milk

Fresh Fruit Smoothie: In a blender mix low fat yogurt, fresh or frozen fruit and ice cubes.

Fresh Fruit Kabobs: Place banana, pineapple, kiwi orange and other fruit slices on skewers for a yummy snack.

Raw Veggies and low fat dip: Broccoli, cucumber, tomato, and carrots go well with a low fat ranch dip.

Whole Wheat Pretzels with Peanut Butter

Deviled Eggs:  Try this delicious recipe below for your whole family.
Ingredients:
6 hard boiled eggs, peeled and cut lengthwise
1/4 C nonfat plain Greek yogurt
2 tsp dijon mustard
1/4 tsp pepper
1/8 tsp salt
paprika to garnish

Place the eggs in a pot and add just enough cold water so that they are fully covered, and put on high heat. Cover and bring them to a boil. Then turn off the heat and let them sit, still covered, for 12 minutes. 
Allow the eggs to cool, peel them and cut them lengthwise.
Place the whites on a plate and the yolks in a bowl. Add the remaining ingredients (except for the paprika) to the yolks in the bowl, and mash it all together.
Once mixed, spoon the mixture back into the empty egg whites.  Top with a sprinkle of paprika if desired.

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