The door flies open and a herd of stampeding, ravenous children rush towards me looking for a snack. They’re jumping up and down, bashing my legs, demanding biscuits, cookies and treats. It’s so easy to reach for a packet of something convenient, but I want my children to eat a healthy diet, which means eating healthy snacks.
As a busy mother (aren’t we all) I want quick and easy snacks to feed my children. I also want tasty and above all healthy snacks. I want a snack that will keep them going, but not fill them up so much that there won’t be room for my tasty healthy dinner.
It’s a great idea to stop thinking of snacks as “snacks”. The word “snack” conjures up images of chips, cookies and cakes. A better idea is to think of a snack as a “mini meal”.
In the same way that a meal offers different food groups, grains, veggies, protein and fats, we can offer different food groups in a snack too.
Offer Different Food Groups
For example, greek yogurt and dried fruit, a sandwich with some cheese and tomato, some cookies and cut up fruit. By giving them a bit of each food group, you’re making your snack more healthy and it will probably keep them full for longer. A small amount of fat is a great way to keep them full up.
Offer Lots of Fruit and Vegetables
Another great tip is to always offer your children fruit or vegetables. You might think that if you offer them a biscuit and some cup up pear, that they’ll just eat the biscuit and leave the pear. Actually, sometimes it’s the other way around. When children are in the habit of eating healthy food, they enjoy it and choose it.
Children don’t make the distinction of “healthy” or “not healthy”, they choose the food they like and often that is fruit (especially if it’s good quality, sweet fruit).
My Favorite Healthy Snacks for Kids
Here are some of my “go-to”, really easy snack that you can grab out of the cupboard. They are quick too, the most you have to do is cut up a piece of fruit.
- Nuts and Dried Fruit. Little pots of nuts, seeds and dried fruit. Look for products that don’t have sugar or salt added. I buy separate bags and empty all the different types into a big pot. It’s great fun and the kids love it.
- Yogurt. Plain yogurt is the best, with no added sugar. It’s surprising how much sugar is added to flavored yogurts. Generally for children who are eating a healthy diet I recommend full fat yoghurt. (If your child has weight issues, you may like to talk to your doctor about using low fat products.) I give my children half a pot (50 mls) of yoghurt as a full pot is a large portion. We like to mix our yogurt with lots of different things, nuts, seeds, dried fruit, fruit puree, fresh fruit. One of our favorites is to mix a little vanilla essence or cinnamon into the yogurt and have a sliced apple or pear.
- Toast. Toast can make a really nutritious snack, especially if you use homemade wholegrain bread. Think of the topping and try to avoid high sugar or salty products. A mashed up banana is full of natural sugars. Or a nut butter (look at the label to see what it has, some are very healthy and others have lots of added salt) but the nut itself is full of great, natural fats that will keep little tummies full until meal time.
- Cut up Fruit. So easy and the kids love it. If you like, you can serve it with a cookie or two (depending on the size of the cookie.) Often my children will eat fruit just by itself. Easy and healthy!
- Hummus and Vegetable Sticks. This is another family favourite. Hummus is made from chickpeas and is really easy to make. Chickpeas are a great source of fibre and of protein. Hummus keeps in the fridge for a few days too. I always make double quantities, half to eat now, half to save in the fridge for later. Hummus and vegetable sticks makes a fun and healthy snack.
If your children eat healthy snacks through out the day, you won’t be so worried about them eating their vegetables at dinner time.
Offering your children healthy snacks is one of the keys to helping them eat a healthy diet. And once you’re in the habit of healthy snacks, it’s really easy.
If you would like to know more about offering your children healthy snacks she has a Snack Guide to help you!