Choosing good healthy snacks for kids challenges parents but not as much as getting them to actually eat them!
The solution, of course, is to trick kids into eating healthy snacks and learning to like them. I’ve raised four kids and my wife and I have seven more who are ‘works in progress.’ We certainly have our share of kids who turn their noses up at things that are good for them.
What is a good healthy snack for kids?
Kid’s nutrition is under attack like never before! Childhood obesity is a growing trend and the Center for Disease Control (CDC) reports that childhood obesity has tripled in the last 30 years.
Nearly 20% of children between the ages of 6 – 11 are obese and adolescents ages 12-19 are not far behind at just under 19%.
Obese youth are more likely at risk for cardiovascular disease, including high cholesterol and high blood pressure. They also have a higher incident of bone and joint problems, sleep apnea and face social and psychological challenges from poor self-esteem.
Kids often turn their noses up at healthy snacks so a resourceful parent will learn how to trick kids into liking healthy snacks.
A good, healthy snack is one that offers enough calories to satisfy energy needs, enough protein and fiber to satisfy hunger.
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Here are five favorites around our house:
A variety of fruits offer great nutrition. Most kids don’t avoid fruit because they don’t like it but because they are too lazy to clean it and peel it or slice it up.
We found that if we prepared a tray of peeled and sliced fruit and left it out that it disappeared 100% of the time. We were even able to slip a few veggies in such as carrots, celery and if we were feeling frisky some broccoli.
Peanut butter is a good source of protein and fiber. The secret is getting away from PB&J on white bread. Try combining with whole grain bread or even a whole grain waffle or rice cake. Try yogurt instead of jam, or make a pure fruit purée to complement the peanut butter.
Sliding a little peanut butter on celery sticks is also a favorite.
Kids love quesadillas. Cheese is a decent source of calcium and protein but is also high in fat and a typical flour tortilla is another source of fat.
Instead of only cheese and a white flour tortilla, go with a whole wheat tortilla and add a thin layer of refried beans. Dice up or shred some chicken or whatever leftover meat you have in the fridge, or pop open a can of chicken or even shrimp. Add some mild salsa.
You’ve taken the cheesy goodness that makes quesadillas a kid’ favorite and added protein, fiber, and vitamins for a super healthy snack.
Yogurt is already a favorite snack for many kids. The problem is that most yogurt brands are loaded with sugar and light on protein.
Go with Greek-style yogurt instead. It usually has twice the protein and far less sugar than the regular stuff. Add some fruit to liven it up. Yogurt spiked with fruit spread over a whole-wheat waffle is irresistable!
Smoothies and Shakes
Diet shakes have been around a long time and they adapted easily as an excellent treat that kids love.
Start with 100% juice and add fruit and yogurt to taste. You can also use non-fat milk or soy milk. It’s easy to come up with yummy shakes that are nutrient-rich. Experiment because the combinations are limitless.
Be creative and don’t be discouraged if not every effort is a home-run. An infamous story my adult kids tell is about the time I tried to sneak some spaghetti squash into grilled-cheese sandwiches. I still contend it was a good idea and I only got busted because I was a little too heavy-handed with the squash!