Nutrition is something we as parents have to take more seriously than we used to. Obesity and its wicked cousin, diabetes, are on the rise everywhere, and kids are the targets of all kinds of fast-food and convenience-foods marketing that tempts them with things that they don’t need. Snacks should be healthy, meaning low in fat and calories, filling, and have good nutrition. Sounds impossible, when you want them to taste good, too? Nay, my friend. There are tons of options out there! Here are just a few items you should always have on hand, because with them you can construct a legion of fun, flavorful and fully good-for-you treats!
Basic Ingredients (try to have on hand):
- Whole wheat tortillas, bread, English muffins, bagels (as bases)
- Low-fat cheeses (cheddar, mozzarella, gouda, edam, cream cheese)
- Cut-up and cleaned veggies (broccoli, cauliflower, carrots, celery, etc.)
- Dry cereal
- Chocolate chips
- Raisins, Craisins, other dried fruit
- Nuts (unsalted and unsweetened, preferably)
- Tomato sauce
- Peanut butter
- Low-sodium/fat lunch meats, like turkey and chicken breast
With these basic ingredients, you can assemble an amazing legion of simple, yummy and fun snacks, such as:
- Mini-Pizzas: Season tomato sauce with some Italian spices, drizzle on an English muffin, top with mozzarella. For fun, add veggies; toast. Very crunchy, tasty and filling!
- Mexi-Pizzas: Drizzle a tortilla with salsa, mozzarella, and chopped veggies; toast. Ole!
- Fruity K-bobs: Cut fruit chunks and space them on a skewer with small pieces of cheese. Pear and apple with cheddar is awesome, and a great source of vitamins and calcium.
- Banana Bombs: Dip a banana in yogurt, roll it in crushed cereal or granola; freeze for 30 minutes to an hour. A chilly treat.
- Home-Made Lunchables: Cut up lunch meat and thinly-sliced cheese and serve with crackers, Lunchables-style.
- Ants on a log: Fill celery with peanut butter or cream cheese, then stud it with raisins or craisins. Kids love it.
- Faux Banana Split: Serve a banana with strawberry and vanilla yogurt, sprinkle with chocolate chips, in a “boat” like a banana split.
- Clear, low-sodium broth-based or tomato soup served with whole-wheat toast or crackers
- Half a turkey and veggie sandwich
- A bowl of mixed granola and dried cereal, with a few chocolate chips thrown in every now and then
- Peanut butter and jelly—try it as a sandwich or even as a yogurt smoothie!
- Veggies served with hummus or low-fat ranch or Italian dressing for dipping. Most vegetables are fat-soluble, so it’s best to accompany them with a little bit of fat for better nutrient absorption.
- Instant oatmeal
- Unsalted, unbuttered popcorn tossed with a little salt and parmesan cheese
- Peanut butter on crackers