Just because its summer doesn’t mean your kids don’t need to fuel up on some healthy kids snacks between meals.
Following are some great ways top up your kids with fluids, boost their level of antioxidants, help them grow and maintain healthy bones, add fibre to their diets with whole grains, and show them that veggies do have a fun side.
So this summer when your kids are hanging around pool side or knocking on the back door looking for something to eat or drink, try these kids snack ideas on for size.
Fluid loss is greater when kids are active in the summer heat. If your kids become tired, weak and irritable after spending a long time outdoors they may be suffering from dehydration.
Avoid drinks laden with sugar and caffeine. Instead of sports drinks and pop, serve ice water (add a slice of lemon, lime or cucumber), low-fat milk, or 100% fruit juice. When serving juice consider half cup servings over larger glasses to avoid loading you kids up with too much sugar.
Make flavored ice cubes and homemade popsicles. Nothing cools kids down faster than something flavorful and frozen.
Serve fruits with a high water content. When hungry strikes and it’s hot out nothing refreshes quite like watermelon, grapes and oranges.
REFUEL WITH ANTIOXIDANTS
Antioxidants help protect your child’s body from disease and other health conditions. Eating foods high in antioxidants is important at every age. Brightly coloured vegetables and fruits are among the best sources of antioxidants.
Keep fresh fruit and veggies washed and ready to eat. One of the best ways to ensure that your kids consume enough antioxidants on a daily basis is to always have a healthy supply of cut up fruits and veggies in your fridge.
Explore different kinds of fruit and veggie dips. Having a variety of dips on hand can mean the difference between your kids snacking healthy or not. Homemade hummus and guacamole are two great veggie dip ideas. Yogurt based dips are ideal for fruits and are much better healthier than dips make with cream cheese, cool whip, or caramel.
HEALTHY BONE BUILDERS
Calcium and vitamin D are essential to building healthy bones. While you can’t go wrong with a glass of milk, there are many other good ways to make sure your kids get enough calcium and vitamin D as they grow.
Be creative with smoothies. Leave your blender on the kitchen counter as a daily reminder to whip up a batch of healthy smoothies made with milk, yogurt and fruit. Don’t get into a rut by using the same ingredients over and over again. For variety keep a selection of frozen fruits on hand and experiment with blends like pineapple and mango, strawberry and banana etc.
Serve healthier chocolate milk. While there’s a certain appeal to chocolate milk, you can reduce the sugar content by diluting it with a little white milk.
Explore different varieties of cheese and yogurt. Don’t worry if your child isn’t a milk lover. Cheese and yogurt are two other great sources of calcium. Try making your own frozen yogurt (with stirred fruit yogurt) and pairing fruits, breads and crackers with different kinds of cheese.
KEEP YOUR KIDS FULL WITH WHOLE GRAINS
Thanks to fibre and the good for you properties of whole grains, a little goes a long way to keeping your kids satisfied until their next meal. The vitamins and minerals found in whole grain snacks aid growth and development. The key to selecting healthy whole grain snacks is to take the time to read nutrition labels and ingredient lists.
Select whole grains low in sugar and fat. One of the best indicators of healthy whole grains is when the word ‘whole’ is included on the ingredient list before the grain like in the case of ‘whole oats’ or ‘whole barley’.
Pair up pitas with hummus and ‘pop’ some healthy corn. Whole grain, whole wheat pitas cut into wedges and served with hummus and other healthy dips like baba goush are great summer snack ideas for kids. Instead of butter laden microwave popcorn, use an air popcorn maker or make some the old fashioned way on your stove top using healthy oil like olive, canola or vegetable and a little sea salt.
THE FUN SIDE OF VEGGIES
Kids love to eat foods they’ve had a hand in growing and preparing. As a kid, I remember how good the carrots and the peas tasted fresh out of grandpa’s garden. There is nothing like nurturing a harvest and then enjoying it. If you don’t have a garden, encourage your kids to explore vegetables with creative recipes ideas.
Create open faced sandwiches by using cut up veggies to make silly facial expressions. Be creative – a slice of red pepper for the mouth, carrot circles for the eyes, a green bean for the nose, sprouts for the hair etc.
Make mini homemade veggie pizzas. Thinly slice up a bunch of vegetables and get your kids to assemble their own veggie pizzas on sliced English muffins.