Healthy Snacks for Kids
healthy snacks for kids
Fruits and Vegetables
Most of the snacks served to children should be fruits and vegetables, since most kids do not eat the recommended five to thirteen servings of fruits and vegetables each day, serving healthy snacks for your kids is an important way to add these to their diet. Eating fruits and vegetables lowers the risk of heart disease, cancer, and high blood pressure. Fruits and vegetables also contain important nutrients like vitamins A and C and fiber.
Fruit is naturally sweet, so most kids love it. Fruit can be served whole, sliced, cut in half, cubed, or in wedges. Canned, frozen, or dried fruits often need little preparation.
- Grapes (red, green, or purple)
- Honeydew Melon
- Kiwis (cut in half and give each child a spoon to eat it)
- Mandarin Oranges
healthy snacks for kids
Other ways to serve fruit
- Applesauce (Unsweetened), Fruit Cups, and Canned Fruit – These have a long shelf life and are low-cost, easy, and healthy if canned in juice or light syrup.
- Dried Fruit - Try raisins, apricots, apples, cranberries, pineapple, papaya, and others with little or no added sugars.
- Frozen Fruit – Try freezing grapes or buy frozen blueberries, strawberries, peaches, mangoes, and melon.
- Fruit Leathers – Some brands of fruit snacks are more like candy than fruit, and should be avoided due to their high content of added sugars and lack of fruit. Try Natural Value Fruit Leathers and Stretch Island Fruit Leathers, which come in a variety of flavors and don’t have added sugars.
- Fruit Salad – Get kids to help make a fruit salad. Use a variety of colored fruits to add to the appeal.
- Popsicles – Most so-called “fruit” Popsicles have added sugars and should be reserved for an occasional treat. Look for Popsicles made from 100% fruit juice with no added caloric sweeteners, such as Breyers or Dole “No Sugar Added” fruit bars.
- Smoothies – Smoothies make great healthy snacks for kids. Blend fruit with juice, yogurt or milk, and ice. Many store-madesmoothies have added sugars and are not healthy choices.
Vegetables can be served raw with dip or salad dressing:
Healthy Grains (bread, crackers, cereals, etc.)
- Carrot sticks or Baby Carrots
- Celery Sticks
- Peppers (green, red, or yellow)
- Snap Peas
- Snow Peas
- String Beans
- Tomato slices
- Grape or cherry tomatoes
- Zucchini slices
- Dips: Try salad dressings, bean dips, guacamole, hummus (which comes in dozens of flavors), salsa, or peanut butter.
- Salad: Make a salad or set out veggies like a salad bar and let the kids build their own salads.
- Soy: Edamame (pronounced “eh-dah-MAH-may”) are fun to eat and easy to serve. (Heat frozen edamame in the microwave for about 2-3 minutes).
- Veggie Pockets: Cut whole wheat pitas in half and let kids add veggies with dressing or hummus.
- Ants on a Log: Let kids spread peanut butter on celery and add raisins.
Though most kids eat plenty of grain products, too many of those grains are cookies, snack cakes, sugary cereals, and other refined grains that are high in sugar and have no real nutrition. Healthy snacks for kids should contain mostly whole grains, which provide more fiber, vitamins, and minerals than refined grains. In addition, try to avoid a lot of sugar and hydrogenated fats.
- Whole Wheat English Muffins, Pita, or Tortillas – Stuff them with veggies or dip them in hummus or bean dip.
- Breakfast Cereal – Either dry or with milk, whole grain cereals like Cheerios, Grape-Nuts, Raisin Bran, Frosted Mini Wheats, and Wheaties make good snacks.
- Crackers – Whole-grain crackers like Triscuits, which come in different flavors or thin crisps (or similar woven wheat crackers), Rye crackers, or whole wheat Matzos can be served alone or with toppings, like cheese or peanut butter.
- Rice Cakes - Look for rice cakes made from brown (whole grain) rice. They come in many flavors, and can be served with or without toppings.
- Popcorn – You can air pop the popcorn and season it, by spraying it with vegetable oil spray and adding Parmesan cheese, garlic powder, or other non-salt spices.
- Baked Tortilla Chips - Baked tortilla chips are usually low in fat, and taste great with salsa and/or bean dip. Look for brands with less salt.
- Pretzels, Bread sticks, and Flatbreads - These items can be offered as snacks now and then, but most are not whole grain and are high in salt.
- Fruit-full muffins - Muffins made with whole grains and fruit make a delicious treat that is packed with nutrition, too. Try this
banana muffin recipe
. For less sugar and more fruit, use raisins instead of the chocolate chips.
Dairy foods are a great source of calcium (which can help to build strong bones), and make healthy snacks for kids.
Other Snack Ideas
Roasted garbanzo beans
- Yogurt – Look for brands that are moderate in sugars and high in calcium. Children do not need fat-free or low-fat products since they are growing and their developing brains and bodies require more fat than adults do.
- Cheese - Cheese provides calcium, but high in sodium. Try to serve it with other lower salt foods like fruit or vegetables.
healthy snacks for kids
- Pudding and Frozen Yogurt - pudding and frozen yogurt should be served only as occasional treats, because they are high in added sugar.
- Try this easy-to-make homemade snack - your kids are sure to love the crunchy roasted beans. You will love the fiber and protein they are getting!
Nuts - Since nuts can be high in salt, it is best to serve them along with another snack such as fruit, or look for nuts that are unsalted. Nuts are very filling, so a small handful is a reasonable serving size. Examples include peanuts, pistachios, almonds, walnuts, cashews, or soy nuts.
- Water – Water should be the main drink served with healthy snacks for kids. Water satisfies thirst and does not have sugar or empty calories. (Plus, it is low-cost for care-givers!) If kids are used to getting sweetened beverages at snack times, it may take a little time for them to get used to drinking water.
- Seltzer - Carbonated drinks like seltzer, sparkling water,and club soda are healthy options. They do not contain the sugars, calories, and caffeine of sodas. Serve them alone or try making “healthy sodas” by mixing them with equal amounts of 100% fruit juice.
- Fruit Juice - Buy 100% fruit juice and avoid the added sugars of juice drinks, punches, fruit cocktail drinks, or lemonade. Drinks that contain at least 50% juice and no additional sweeteners are also healthful options. To find 100% juice, look at beverage nutrition labels for the percentage of the beverage that is juice.
Orange, grapefruit, and pineapple juices are more nutrient-dense and are healthier than apple, grape, and pear juices. Many beverages like Capri Sun, V8-Splash, Tropicana Twisters, Sunny Delight, Kool Aid Jammers, Hi-C, or juice drinks from Very Fine, Welch’s or Snapple are easily mistaken for juice. However, those beverages are more like soda than juice -- they are merely sugar water with a few tablespoons of added juice. Fruit juice can be rich in vitamins, minerals, and cancer-fighting compounds. However, it is high in calories.
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