Healthy, Kid-Friendly Snacks

by in Healthy Recipes, Healthy Tips, March 17, 2009

These days, snacks often mean cookies, candy, chips or even donuts — that is, nothing nutritious! If he could, my seven-year-old son would live on junk foods alone, but as the adult (and a nutritionist mom of three), it’s my job to make sure the right choices are available for my family. Check out these tips for creating healthy, kid-friendly snacks.

The Purpose of Snacks
Kids are growing and have very high calorie needs, which snacks can help meet by providing nourishment between meals. Typically a child should eat between two-to-three snacks daily. Choose nibblers that contain protein for growth, iron for blood and calcium for bones. Fiber, vitamins A and C are also important nutrients to get. This does not mean that the occasional “junk food” snack is forbidden — just be sure there’s a balance for good.

Snack Basics
Here are some basic healthier options for kids. You may need to modify snacks based on your child’s age — for example, slice grapes in quarters for toddlers so they don’t choke.

  • Sliced or whole fresh fruits: Apples, bananas, kiwi, mango, grapes, berries, melons, peaches, pineapple and plums. Applesauce, dried fruit and fruit leathers are also good choices (make sure they’re 100% fruit).
  • Sliced or whole fresh veggies: Carrot sticks, broccoli, cucumbers, radishes, baby corn, olives, bell peppers and string beans.
  • Dairy: Cheese slices, Babybel, string cheese, skim or 1% milk or yogurt (remember, cows don’t make purple yogurt! Try Stonyfield’s Yo Kids).
  • Protein: Edamame, deli meat (i.e. turkey or chicken breast), hard-boiled egg
  • Starches: Unsalted pretzels, mini bagels, pita wedges, graham crackers, dried cereal (make sure sugar isn’t listed as one of the first four ingredients) and granola bars.

“My kids won’t eat fruits and veggies!?!”
I’ve lost count on the number of times I’ve heard that statement. There are ways to convince kids to enjoy these foods without driving you nutty. Believe me, my son is a picky eater but I work with him, not against him. You want to lead by example — show your child that you too eat fruits and veggies. You also don’t want to make faces at a food you don’t enjoy. Even if you’re not a big fan of a certain vegetable, you should offer it and smile when you do.

Forcing a child to take one bite typically backfires and can make the child angry or uncomfortable. Create an enjoyable atmosphere, offer small amounts at a time and continue to offer the food until the child realizes that fruits and veggies are “normal” things to eat. It typically takes 20 times for a child to come to like a food — so don’t give up so easily!

Fun, Kid-Friendly Snack Recipes
Some kid-friendly favorites are fruit on skewers, smoothies, vegetable sushi rolls and sliced veggies dipped in hummus, guacamole or a low-fat dressing. Cheese and whole-wheat crackers, apples dipped in peanut butter or even a scrambled egg in a four-inch pita pocket are other options to try.

Plus, try these recipes to jazz up snack time:

And check out this New York Times article about common mistakes parents make when feeding their kids.

TELL US: What kind of healthy snacks do your kids love?

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Comments (18)

  1. Try to avoid pre-packaged snacks because its unhealthy. One can go for milk-based drinks because it rich in proteins, calcium, iron, also fruit juice will be good. One can even go for some innovative ideas like Ice cream cone can be filled with cheese, veggie and tomato chopped or a tuna fish salad which a great snack, involve the child in building their own meals from sandwiches, cheese cubes, and dried fruit or serve the meal in innovative plates and cups.

  2. great article post…yeah i agree having preservatives foods is unhealthy. I would like to recommend fresh fruits and vegetables to your kids.

  3. Yoga Mom says:

    My kids LOVE earth balls. They are usually made with peanut butter (great protein source), but my son is allergic to nuts, so we use soybutter. It also includes raw honey, a little cocoa powder and any filler you like, such as raisins, dried cranberries (or other berries), dates, oats, flax meal, chocolate chips. A basic recipe can be found at wholefoods.com in the kid-friendly recipes.

  4. Jennifer says:

    I have 3 little girls and yet to find a fruit or veggie that none of them will eat. There favorites are aspargus, spinach brocolli and green beans . Im a hudge veggie eater we have our own garden every year which the kids love. Oh their ages are 6 . 2 and 10 months my problem is they hate meat and fish. They will eat everything else. The only meat they enjoy is chicken and turkey so i need some tricks to hide meat lol

  5. Tower Deli says:

    Nowadays we are bombarded with junk food and it is sad that many kids are getting used to this unhealthy habit.
    It is pretty hard to stay away from one's cravings, especially with junk food but if you have healthier alternatives available then there is no harm in trying them out. http://www.towerdeli.com
    Kids most especially enjoy their meals when they are prepared with love and health in mind.

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