My girls aren’t in school yet, but I know the importance of preparing healthy snacks for them. Most kids need to eat every 2-3 hours to get in all the nutrients and calories they need to sustain adequate growth which means healthy snacks are the key to meeting a child’s nutrient needs each day. Healthy snacks also help keep energy levels stable throughout the day, which is so important when they’re in school most of the day.
Think of your kids’ snacks as mini-meals. This means they should be just as nutritious as the rest of the food you give them. Children’s diets should include plenty of fruits, vegetables, lean protein sources, low fat dairy products, whole grains and healthy fats. Nutritionist Keri Glassman, nutritional advisor to Hain-Celestial (one of the largest manufacturers of organic and natural foods) and a busy mom of two, understands the importance of feeding kids healthy, nutritionally packed foods as they head back into the school year. She shares the following tips (and more) on www.takeahealthybite.com:
5 “Smart Lunchbox” tips to keep kids eating a balanced diet
- Make every lunchbox complete. Fill lunchboxes with a whole grain, dairy, lean protein, healthy fat such as nuts, nut butter or avocado, fruit and vegetables.
- Remember to get kids involved. Set aside a block of time for food planning and preparation early in the week. Portion out a couple days worth of food items such as hummus or nut butters. Slice fruits and vegetables and pack into several containers. Preparing food ahead of time will make it easier to pack lunches on school days.
- Make food fun to eat! Pack dips, such as yogurt mixed with peanut butter and pair with fruit. Serve crackers with similar size and shape deli meats and cheese and let kids “stack” them on their own.
- Satisfy your child’s sweet tooth. Choose healthy alternatives like a drinkable yogurt smoothie made with nonfat soy milk or yogurt and berries, Health Valley Oatmeal Raisin Cookies or frozen mashed bananas.
- Choose nutrient dense snacks. Earth’s Best Organic Crunchin’ Crackers, Garden of Eatin’ Whole Grain Sea Salt Pita Chips with hummus, apple slices with MaraNatha peanut butter all hit the spot!
5 Healthy Snack Ideas
- Very Berry Smoothie: 8 oz WestSoy Plus soymilk mixed with 1 cup frozen unsweetened strawberries and ½ cup blueberries (Soymilk: 110 cals, 4g fat, 10g carbs, 7g protein; Strawberries: 52 cals, 1g fat, 13 carbs; Blueberries: 41 calories, 10.5g carbs)
- Better than S’Mores: 6 Health Valley Amaranth Bran Graham Crackers with 2 teaspoons of MaraNatha Organic No Stir Peanut Butter and 1 oz chocolate (Crackers: 120 cals, 3g fat, 22g carbs, 3g protein; Peanut Butter: 66 cals, 5 g fat, 2.3g carbs, 2.3g protein; Chocolate: 152 cals, 8.6g fat, 16.5g carbs, 2g protein)
- Chips n’ Dip: 1 oz Garden of Eatin’ Whole Grain Sea Salt Pita Chips with 2 tablespoons of hummus (Pita Chips: 120 cals, 3g fat, 20g carbs, 3g protein, 180 mg omega 3; Hummus: 50 cals, 3.5g fat, 4g carbs, 1g protein)
- As, Bs and Cookies!: 9 Earth’s Best Organic Sesame Street Oatmeal Cinnamon Letter of the Day Cookies dipped in low fat yogurt with an 8 oz container of Earth’s Best Kidz 2% Reduced Fat Milk (Cookies: 90 cals; Milk: 120 cals, 5g fat, 11g carbs, 8g protein)
- Nutty Wafflewich: 4 Earth’s Best Sesame Street Frozen Organic Mini Waffles with 2 teaspoons MaraNatha Organic No Stir Almond Butter and a tablespoon of honey (Mini Waffles: 80 cals, 3g fat, 12g carbs, 2g protein; Almond Butter: 64 cals, 6g fat, 2g carbs, 3g protein)
You can find more recipes, a shopping list, and even a meal planner on www.takeahealthybite.com. Make sure to check out the “Take a Bite out of Reading” program while you’re there. After purchasing products from a variety of participating brands (Earth’s Best, West Soy, Maranatha, Garden of Eatin’ and Health Valley), you can redeem points towards Barnes & Noble gift cards and enter a sweepstakes to win $500 in books for your school library!
What healthy snacks do you make for your kids?