Snacks are an important part of any diet. Enjoying a healthy snack between meals helps ward off hunger and can prevent you from overeating during mealtimes. And offering kids a healthy snack can prevent the incessant cries of “I’m hungry!” The American Dietetic Association recommends two to three snacks each day, each one around 100 to 200 calories. The good news is that most snacks that fall into those parameters are easy to make.
Fruits and Vegetables
Serving your kids fruits and vegetables for snacks not only keeps them satisfied until lunch or dinner, but also helps reach the recommended daily serving amounts. To save time, wash and cut produce as soon as you get it home, and store it in the refrigerator for easy serving. Baby carrots, celery, cucumbers and sliced peppers are nutritious and satisfying snacks, especially when served with a ranch dressing or dip. Use peanut butter, protein-packed hummus, or a homemade dip made with a dry seasoning mix and a light sour cream or yogurt for dipping. You can prepare fruit the same way, washing and cutting berries to serve with yogurt, or add peanut butter to apples for a healthy mix of protein and fiber.
When you’re on the go and the kids get hungry, having a portable snack that you can easily transport can be a lifesaver — or at least get you out of the grocery store without a hunger-induced meltdown. Mix up your own trail mix with popcorn, corn or rice cereal, fish-shaped crackers, pretzels, peanuts, raisins, and chocolate chips or coated chocolate candies in a large bowl, and prepare individual servings in plastic bags or containers. Flavored popcorn is another option for snacks on the go. Sprinkle parmesan cheese, garlic salt or ranch seasoning mix over freshly popped popcorn.
Bananas are a convenient snack on their own, and come in their own packaging, but they are also a versatile snack ingredient. Make a “banana dog” by placing a banana in a small whole-wheat hot dog bun with a few tablespoons of peanut butter. Add a few chocolate chips for sweetness. Spread peanut butter or your favorite nut butter on graham crackers or flavored rice cakes, add a few banana slices, and top with another cracker for a healthy and easy snack. Slice a whole banana on the bias, roll the slices in cocoa powder, and top with shredded toasted coconut and chocolate chips for a sweet snack.
Give kids an extra boost of calcium with a dairy-based snack. Packaged low-fat string cheese is a convenient option, but you can mix your dairy with fruit for an extra boost of vitamins. To serve a yogurt and fruit parfait, layer fresh fruit, like peaches or strawberries, with sugar-free yogurt, and top with some low-fat granola. Another option is to mix light cottage cheese with fresh fruit, such as pineapples or berries. If you and your kids love cheese, serve 2-percent cheese wedges with healthy whole-grain crackers.
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