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Written by The Nutrition Twins
Do your kids come home famished after school? Are they wondering how long it is until dinner? If you worry that giving your kids snacks in between meals may discourage them from eating lunch or dinner or that they’ll only want snacks that are junk food, just know that there are simple things you can do to ensure this is not the case.
The key to making the most of snacks is have an arsenal of healthy foods in your house that offer some of the same things that your kids crave. Whether they are looking for something creamy, crunchy or sweet make sure to have some options that provide extra nutrients that they may not receive enough of, such as fiber, protein, and vitamins and minerals.
Also, if it is just giving your kids a boost for an hour or so before dinner, keep the snack portion between 50 – 100 calories. A snack is not meant to be a meal replacement, just a way to tide them over until their next meal. Stocking your refrigerator and pantry with healthier snacks will ensure that it will be easy for kids to make the better choice. Parents always ask us for ideas, try these!
Do they crave crunchy?
We always recommend veggie crudité dipped in hummus or dressing first, but kids often want more after their veggies. Most kids gravitate toward chips and baked options, rather than fried are always best.
- Baked kale chips or parsnip fries. (See our simple recipe below for Crunchy Kale Chips) We love making kale chips and sprinkle them with garlic powder and cracked pepper.
- Pirate’s Booty which has half the fat and fewer calories than regular fried potato chips, so it’s a great healthier alternative. You can now find 65-calorie multipacks that are great way to give your kid a controlled portion of what they will feel like is a treat (and they’re perfect for the lunchbox too!) Another plus is that Pirate’s Booty is gluten, peanut and tree-nut free, so it’s safe for kids with allergies.
Are they craving sweet?
- Here’s a no brainer – fresh fruit! Have at least three types of your kids’ favorite fresh fruits available so they’ll always have it as a snack option. Have the fruit pre-cut, portioned, and ready to go in the refrigerator.
- (We keep frozen banana coins in plastic bags in the freezer and freeze medjool dates—these taste like Kit-Kats!)
Are they craving creamy?
- Nut butters are a great, creamy food that also packs a protein punch. Peanut butter is a great go-to but if your child has peanut allergies, experiment with other nut or seed butters. These include almond, cashew, or even sunflower butter. Use for dipping fresh fruits or veggies, graham crackers, or whole wheat baked pita triangles.
- Greek Yogurt is another creamy treat that offers protein. Stick to brands that offer 15 grams or less of sugar per container. If your kids insist on ice cream, you can put the yogurt in the freezer and they’ll never know the difference!
Remember, it is ok for kids to want one or two snacks during the day. You can show them the healthiest choices for snacking by following these tips and eating this way too. Cheers to healthy snacking!
Crunchy Easy Kale Chips (from our book The Secret To Skinny http://www.amazon.com/Secret-Skinny-4-Week-Healthier-Low-Sodium/dp/0757313515/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1292819816&sr=1-1)
- 1 large bunch of fresh kale
- Cooking spray
- Salt to taste
- Cayenne pepper (optional)
- Cracked pepper (optional)
- Preheat oven to 350°F.
- Spray a 2 cookie sheets with cooking spray.
- Cut the kale leaves off the stem and wash. Dry them thoroughly, using a towel or salad spinner.
- Cut the leaves into bite-sized pieces and spread them out on cookie sheets.
- Spray lightly with cooking spray, and sprinkle with salt and spices.
Bake for about 15 minutes, until crisp. Be careful not to burn.
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For a Get Healthy Guide, check out The Nutrition Twins Veggie Cure!