Kids always seem to be hungry and in need of a snack. Most kids legitimately need snacks to help them meet daily nutrition requirements and make up for foods that may have been left out of meals. Rather than the often-unhealthy prepackaged kid's snack foods, consider what your child has eaten from the food groups during meals and use snacks to fill in the gaps. Food groups to consider when planning simple snacks include dairy, meats, nuts, grains, fruits and vegetables.
Vegetables and Fruit
According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture's "Choose My Plate" eating plan, half of each meal consist of vegetables and fruits. If you realize your child needs to consume more fruits and vegetables, entice him with simple vegetable or fruit pizza. Using a bagel as the base, sprinkle fruit over cream cheese or vegetables over hard cheese. Keep sealed containers of washed vegetables and fruits ready in the refrigerator for fast snacking with a creamy dip at anytime. Single-serving dip containers make these snacks even easier.
Choose snacks to help bolster your child's dairy product intake from items such as yogurt, cheese, sugar-free pudding and flavored milk drinks. Use yogurt to make a fruit parfait by stirring fruit into plain or vanilla yogurt. Stir in nuts or granola for added nutrition. Have kids make cracker mini-sandwiches using whole-grain crackers and cheddar or colby cheese for a quick snack. For a cold snack, freeze sugar-free pudding cups with a craft stick stuck into the paper lid as a handle. Flavored milk, available in vanilla, strawberry and chocolate at many stores, makes a nutritious kid-friendly addition to any meal.
Meats, Nuts and Legumes
Purchase mini-cookie cutters and let kids punch shapes out of deli meats to make cracker and meat sandwiches. Nuts and nut butters are another source of protein. Serve nuts and nut butters with whole grain crackers or bread and fruit. Beans, rich in fiber as well as protein, can be squeezed into a simple snack of a refried beans and cheese burrito.
Buy whole-grain crackers, bagels, bagels, pita bread or tortillas. Offer kids a snack of one of these whole-grain choices served with any combination of cheese, fruits and vegetables. Make kids a crisp snack with thinly sliced bagels or pita bread baked in a hot oven for 20 minutes. Spread with peanut butter and top with sliced apple. Kids can make a quick tortilla wrap with cheese, deli meat and creamy dressing with Southwest seasoning warmed for a few minutes in the microwave.
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