Snack Suggestions (page 2)
Encouraging children to eat right is good for everyone in the family, so help kids make healthy choices by keeping wholesome snacks at eye-level and within reach. Put sugary treats out of sight and up high. Let the kids help out when you cook and spend time planting a vegetable garden together, or just a few pots with seeds.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) recommends that we eat more whole-grain foods every day, choose a variety of fruits and vegetables throughout the week, and make dairy and meat choices low-fat and lean. Eating light and lean and exercising every day is the basis for a long and healthy life – what a great gift to give to our children (and ourselves)!
Note that some foods such as hot dogs, peanut butter, corn-on-the-cob, popcorn, raw carrots, celery, apples, grapes, etc., can be too difficult for very young children to chew and swallow without choking. These foods should be either mashed, cooked, cut in very small pieces, or eliminated altogether as snacks for little ones. Be conscious of any food sensitivities or allergies and enjoy your meals together.
Breads and Grains – Make half of your daily grains whole-grains (look for the word, “whole” in the list of ingredients) and choose low-fat, low-sodium.
- whole-grain breads or carrot/banana/pumpkin breads
- cereals, oatmeal, granola, grits
- corn tortillas, corn bread, popcorn (older kids only)
- brown rice, rice cakes
- bagels, muffins, pita, crackers
- waffles, pancakes, French toast
- pasta with olive oil or tomato sauce
Vegetables – Choose a variety of fresh or frozen, cooked or raw. Focus on green and orange veggies. Note that some raw vegetables and fruits can be a choking hazard for younger children.
- celery sticks, baby carrots, green beans, cucumbers, sweet peppers
- greens (collard, mustard, spinach, etc.)
- baked potatoes, sweet potatoes, squash
- corn on the cob, artichokes, peas
- vegetable soups
- salads with vinegar or yogurt
- vegetable juices
Fruits – Choose a variety and go easy on the fruit juice due to its sugar content.
- bananas, berries, melons, grapes (cut into bite-size pieces for smaller children)
- oranges, apples, pears, tangerines, peaches, plums, apricots, mangoes, pineapple
- avocados, tomatoes
- dried fruits like raisins, apricots
- smoothies, 100% fruit juices, frozen-juice Popsicles
Dairy Products – Low-fat and low-sugar.
- low-fat milk (reduced lactose, if necessary)
- low-fat yogurt or frozen yogurt
- cheese cubes or slices with crackers
- cottage cheese with fruit or celery
- milk or yogurt shakes
- puddings or custards made with milk
Meat, Fish, Poultry, Beans, Nuts – Go for lean protein and bake, broil or grill it.
- chicken sandwiches or salad
- cold cuts (lean, low-salt)
- hot dogs (cut up), hamburgers, mini meatballs
- eggs (scrambled, boiled, quiche, frittata)
- tuna (sandwiches and casseroles; for health, consider the origin of the fish)
- salmon, seafood
- cooked peas and beans (mash for younger children)
- nut and seed butters: peanut, almond, sesame, soybean – on crackers or celery or apple (check for any history of allergies first!)
- tofu (natural, seasoned, baked or fried)
More Snacks – Use oils and fats sparingly; liquid oils are preferred; limit solid fats such as butter and margarine.
- pizza slices, English muffin pizzas
- macaroni and cheese, pasta with meat sauce
- tacos, quesadillas (tortillas with cheese)
- sandwiches (including grilled cheese)
- stir-fry with rice
- sushi (with cooked seafood or vegetables)
- curries (with rice or potatoes)
- soups, stews
Children love simple cooking projects: sifting, measuring, pouring, stirring, mashing, sprinkling – tasting! Preparing food encourages adventuresome eating and sets a good example for your kids. Even sandwiches can be fun to make. Have children cut them into shapes with cookie cutters and give them some interesting names: moon munchies, witches' fingers, sandwich-guys, etc. Here are some recipes that children can help prepare. Start with the ingredients all ready. Wash hands and no tasting from the bowl. Supervise – be careful of hot stoves, boiling liquids and sharp knives. Unplug blenders and mixers when not in use. Feel free to experiment with the ingredients and have fun in the kitchen!
Reprinted with the permission of BANANAS, Inc. © 2007 BANANAS
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