"Can I have a snack?"
Once kids can talk, parents can expect to hear this phrase multiple times a day. Whether toddler or teenager, caregivers hold the key to proper nutrition. The problem is, getting kids to munch on raw carrots and whole grains is easier said than done, especially when marketers work their magic convincing young minds that sugary or salty junk foods are so much cooler. Let's face it, buying healthy snacks for kids is hard!
So how do you give kids healthy snacks they will love? Shop smart and mix it up.
Grocery Store Guidance
Life is busy, and whipping up healthy homemade snacks isn't always on the agenda. That's why when I am buying healthy snacks for kids, I make sure to read the labels. There's nothing wrong with store-bought snacks, as long as they pass my nutrition test. That means no ingredients that I can't pronounce, moderate levels of sugar and salt, and proper portion sizes for my little ones.
If I'm really stumped, I pull out my smartphone and search the Environmental Working Groups Food Scores at www.ewg.org/foodscores. You can search specific products or go broader and search entire brands! More than 80,000 products are rated on a scale of 1-10 based on nutrition, ingredient and processing concerns. Yes, finding and buying healthy snacks for kids requires a little effort but goes a long way.
Homemade Healthy Snacks in Minutes
When time allows, I like to make fun, healthy snacks for the kids. Here are a few of my favorite swaps that transform boring snacks into exciting taste sensations:
- Skip the crackers and up the ante with meat and cheese skewers!. Roll a small piece of meat and cheese and then push through a small straight pretzel for bite-size snacking bliss.
- Instead of plating plain fruit, enhance the presentation with fruit flowers. Arrange slices of fruit to look like petals and add a dollop of yogurt in the middle for dipping. You can do this with veggies like tomatoes and cucumbers, too; just use ranch instead for dipping.
- Jazz up bland oatmeal with honey and raisins and make a happy face. The honey is the mouth and the raisins are eyes and hair. This works with apples, cranberries and almond butter, too. Guaranteed to brighten any kid's morning!
Half the battle is providing healthy snacks and the other half is living by example. Sit down and enjoy those fruit flowers with your kids, or make your own silly oatmeal face! Buying healthy snacks for kids can be fund if you also include your young ones so they feel like they have some choices. Your body and family will thank you.