It’s that time of year again when kids go back to school and parents go into panic mode wondering what to pack their kids for lunch that is quick, easy and most importantly HEALTHY! This year calls for fresh ideas and real food to keep fighting the child obesity fight. A few important factors in creating healthy snacks for kids:
- Variety, variety, variety. Kids can only take so much of sandwiches and juice boxes. Use the healthy plate idea and go crazy. Sliced raw fruits and veggies are always easy and delicious. Pair them with yogurt or hummus and kids have a healthy snack with a full belly.
- Bake it in. Take a simple recipe such as muffin, bread or cookies; add nuts, fruits, veggies or seeds and kids are still getting a nutrient dense snack with more fiber and protein.
- Buy it. This option is great for busy parents; however, reading labels is a must. Some top “no, no’s” include artificial flavors and colors, enriched wheat, hydrogenated and fractionated oils, MSG, white sugar and it’s artificial counterparts (sucralose/aspartame), high fructose corn syrup, BHA and BHT, non-organic soy, non-organic corn, potassium sorbate, soy lecithin, canola oil and polysorbate 80. Phew, that was a mouth full! Basically, the rule of thumb here is if it was created in a lab, don’t eat it.
With all that bad, what’s good? Here is a list of healthy pre-packaged snacks:
- Organic blue chips or quinoa chips. Pair them with guacamole, hummus or salsa and the little tikes have a yummy snack!
- String cheese and whole grain crackers. It’s just that simple.
- Organic yogurt squeeze up snacks. These are easy to grab with no clean-up for Mom.
- Serving sized packaged nuts. Buy the roasted, unsalted kind for a low sodium tasty snack.
Organic or non-GMO granola bars. Selecting the right brand is important because many bars contain “no-no” ingredients listed above and are heavily processed. There is a newer brand out called KIND. This bar is incredible; it does not contain GMOs or artificial ingredients. These bars are made from all-natural whole nuts, fruits and whole grains that contain essential nutrients like fiber, protein and antioxidants. This innovative brand is branching out into the market place with KIND bars now available in Target for the first time in the pharmacy section!
Making sure the kiddies get the nutrients they need can be tricky, but not impossible. With the healthy conscience world we live in today, putting together nutritious snacks can be a snap! Follow the healthy plate and know what the healthy options are. Nature is calling, so check out this list!
Natural sugar is nature’s nectar. This is sugar found in fruits, honey and vegetables.
- Protein, it’s not just a meat thing. Meat is not the only source for this necessity. All types of legumes, seeds, nuts, vegetables and dairy are perfect for getting protein. For meat choices, stick to lean unprocessed meats and eggs.
- There is more to dairy than milk. Yogurt is a favorite with kids and it can always be spruced up with granola or fruits getting more nutrient bang in the serving! Cheese is ideal because everything tastes better with cheese, but not all cheeses are nutritionally alike. Stick to low-moisture cheeses; Swiss, Ricotta, Romano and Mozzarella, are all great options.
- Carbohydrates are fuel for the body. Not all carbs were created equal, so be picky when choosing which carbs to feed the little ones. Quinoa is considered a superfood and is loaded with protein. Steel cut oats are better than rolled oats and stick to whole grain options. Once again, vegetables fit the bill for this too!
Don’t let snacks be a stress this back to school year. Try some of the options above and plan ahead each grocery trip.