How to Make Healthy Snacks for Kids
Start as You Mean to Go On
When you have children, a busy schedule and convenience can often mean compromising on healthy snacks. They might nag you for sweets or crisps at the checkout, or we may 'treat' them to a sticky cake when they are good.
We all like a treat and there's nothing wrong with this. But getting children into good eating habits is beneficial for their health. Food low in saturated fat, salt and sugar can help against health problems and weight issues. It is important to also give children nutritious food, such as fruits, vegetables and whole grains.
All children are different. What they eat depends on their age and ability, or what appeals to them. Some children eat very little, some will only eat certain types of food and others are more willing to try new things.
You know your own children and what they like to eat. But if it's cookies after school, or chocolate spread sandwiches for lunch, you may want to wean them away from their habit.
Introducing a variety of foods to children make them aware of what is out there. Only sticking to one familiar thing will make them shy away from new things.
If there is a deeper problem and your child has severe eating habits, seek advice from a health care professional.
Make it Convenient
Having healthy food in the cupboards instead of cakes and biscuits avoids the temptation to pick. Change the way you shop by purchasing alternatives to the junk. You can still satisfy a sweet tooth with fruit and healthier versions to crisps are available to buy.
By making healthy snacks for your kids, you can get them involved. They can help you to make them and be more inclined to try them. You can also make things and store them in the fridge for after school bites. If they are ready made, they are easier to grab when they feel hungry.
For smaller children, you can make a variety of snacks and let them try what they want. Don't pressure them and make it fun.
Snacks Great For Kids
When you are shopping, get some healthy snacks for the children to try. Some examples may be:
- Dried fruit such as raisins
- Tinned fruit in juice
- Bread sticks
- Rice cakes
- Wholemeal crackers or oat cakes with cottage cheese or Marmite
- Low fat fromage frais
- Fresh fruit
You can also make some healthy toppings or dips for your bread sticks or crackers.
Sandwich Fillers or Dips
Make sandwiches for lunches and in between meals. Try brown bread, wholemeal pitta bread, or wholemeal tortilla bread (to make wraps).
Try these fillers:
- Mix low fat cream cheese with tinned sardines or mackerel
- Chicken with chopped cucumber and tomato relish
- Avocado and prawns
- Tuna with sweetcorn
- Grated carrot and grated cheese
- Cheese and red pesto
- Egg and watercress
- Ham with chopped salad leaves and tomato
- Tuna with chopped spring onions and light mayonaise
Mix and match what your child likes. If they don't eat lettuce try red peppers or watercress. Leave out what they don't like (such as mayonaise) and add what they do like.
Vegetables as Snacks
Some children do not like vegetables. If they have been boiled and put on the side of the plate, try serving them up another way.
Carrot sticks are more tempting that sliced ones next to the mashed potato. Put them in their lunch box, or leave out as finger food. Use cottage cheese with chives or low fat yogurt as a tasty dip.
Also try cutting cucumber or peppers into sticks.
Some vegetables can be sliced thinly and roasted in a little olive oil to make crunchy healthy chips. Try it with sweet potatoes and parsnips. Add some paprika if your child likes the taste.
Celery tastes good with a layer of peanut butter over the top. Chop up some dates to make it even more interesting.
Smoothies are drinks made with fruit. It's another way to get more than one portion of fruit into your child at once. If they are reluctant to munch on an apple, add fruit to a drink instead.
Using a blender or smoothie maker, you can add whatever you fancy. Try strawberries, mango and clementine and blend with crushed ice and a little orange or apple juice. Or make a banana shake with low fat milk.
Let your child choose the fruit they want and supervise them to blend it all up.
Cook With Kids
Getting the kids to cook with you allows them to see what is going into their food. You can limit the salt and sugar in what you make, and the children can choose what they like and what they don't.
Try some different tasty treats:
- Apple and sultana scones
- Home made vegetable pizza
- Flapjacks with apricots and pumpkin seeds
- Banana muffins
- Red peppers stuffed with rice, spinach and Parmesan