Feeding our children should seem like a straightforward thing; However, when you mix in the many different messages that parents are getting about nutrition, understanding how to best nourish your child becomes confusing.
Sadly, there is an underlying sense of fear that comes with child feeding, with parents wondering if there child is getting enough of the “right” things, eating too much of the “wrong” things, or building healthy eating habits overall.
With the amount of misinformation that is out there today, it’s no wonder that family mealtimes are often stressful, with parents and children often butting heads around something that should be seemingly basic.
Raising a Healthy Eater
The good news is that raising a child who enjoys both the nourishing and pleasurable aspects of food and eating is attainable with simple feeding strategies. Over the next few weeks, I’ll be diving into these strategies in more detail.
Today, I want to address the point of incorporating healthy snacks into your child’s day, which is an important way to fuel their bodies consistently and give more opportunities to maximize nutrition.
Snacking has sadly become demonized in our culture, especially when it comes to kids. Many parents fear that their child may not eat at meal time if offered snacks during the day. Others may worry that “snack” type foods are unhealthy, and therefore, should be avoided.
The reality is that children need to eat every 2-3 hours, as their growing bodies holds a smaller volume of food than adults. Strategizing when and what you offer your children for snacks can help optimize their nutrition intake, keeping them satisfied, healthy, and strong.
The Benefit of Offering Nutritious Snacks
An important key to remember is that parents should be responsible for what snacks are being served and when snacks are given. Children should be allowed to determine if they want to eat the snack offered, as well as decide how much of the snack to eat.
When planning out snacks, I advise parents to focus on the main macronutrients needed, which are carbohydrates, proteins, and fats. Snacks that contain this combination of food components will likely be more balanced and contain the variety needed to keep their bodies fueled.
This also helps keep their energy stable, which can prevent low blood sugar or “energy crashes.” Ever experience a kid who is “hangry”? Yeah, thanks - but no, thanks. Pack a nutrition punch in snacks you offer to your kids by including the combo of carbs, protein and fats.
Simple and Fun Snack Ideas for Kids
The good news is that there are many simple combinations that can easily be put together to offer your child these crucial nutrients, with ingredients you likely purchase regularly and already have on hand.
Here are three of my favorite easy and healthy snack ideas that my kids regularly enjoy and that offer a combination of carbs, proteins, and fats.
Greek Yogurt Parfaits
Layering Greek Yogurt, Whole-Grain Granola, and Fresh Fruit offers a quick, fun, and healthy treat for your kiddos that fuels them with protein, carbohydrates, and fats.
- Greek Yogurt of Choice (Plain or Flavored)
- Whole Grain Granola
- Fresh or Frozen Fruit (Such as mixed berries, sliced banana, etc)
- Give your kiddos the opportunity to be involved with snack prep by setting out the ingredients in medium sized bowls and letting them customize their own parfait.
- Using small bowls or cups, layer each ingredient as desired.
*Note: Ingredients can easily be substituted based on what you might have on hand.
Egg Salad with Garnishes
Eggs are a powerhouse of nutrients and offer inexpensive, high quality protein. A serving of egg salad can provide a nutrient dense snack that will leave little tummies satisfied. Serve alongside your favorite whole grain crackers or fresh veggies for dipping to offer a balanced snack. Kids can help by peeling the hard-boiled eggs, mashing the eggs, and mixing all the ingredients.
- 6-7 Hardboiled and Peeled Eggs
- ¼ Cup Mayonnaise
- 2 teaspoons mustard (optional)
- ½ teaspoon each salt and pepper, more or less to taste
- Add hardboiled and peeled eggs into a medium bowl. Mash with a fork until desired consistency reach.
- Add mayonnaise, mustard, salt and pepper. Stir to combine
- Serve immediately with whole grain crackers and vegetable garnishes.
Apple and Nut Butter “Sandwiches”
The combination of nut butters with fresh fruit gives a balanced combination of nutrients that your kids will enjoy eating. This snack is also easy for little hands to manage and can be made ahead of time for a portable snack. Involve your kids by letting them spread the nut butter, sprinkle granola, or add chocolate chips.
- 2 Medium Apples of Choice, Washed, Cored, and Cut Crosswise into ½ inch-thick rounds
- 3 Tablespoons Nut/Seed Butter of Choice (i.e, Peanut, Almond or Sunflower)
- 3 Tablespoons Whole-Grain Granola
- Chocolate Chips or Raisins for Topping (optional)
- Spread one side of the apple slices with nut butter of choice
- Sprinkle with granola and other toppings as desired
- Top with other half of apple slice to make a “sandwich”
- Serve, and enjoy!
With a little planning ahead, you can incorporate easy and healthy snacks into your child’s day that are not only fun for them to eat, but a nutritious and filling as well.
What are your favorite kid-friendly snacks?