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Snack Smartly with These Healthy Snack Ideas for Kids

Spend one afternoon with your kiddo and you know, they have – and need – lots of energy! Whether they’re burning it up on the ballfield, running around the playground, or playing make-believe with their friends, it’s easy to see why kids often beg for a snack. They’re hungry!

 

Snacks Help Fuel Kids’ Growth

 

Early in life until late adolescence, kids are growing. Sometimes the growth is obvious – suddenly those pants you just bought them are capri length. But even on the inside, they are growing and using up tons of energy and nutrients at a fast rate compared to adults.

 

Think about it – kids are smaller than adults, but their calorie needs can often be similar. That’s because they’re constantly expending a bunch of energy. To keep up with their bodies’ needs – and to prevent crankiness – it’s a smart idea to offer up some easy healthy snacks for kids between meals.

 

What Makes a Snack Healthy?

 

Keep in mind, kids need more than just quick calories. It’s better to choose a snack that has some staying power – think fiber or protein and a little bit of healthy fat to help them stay fuller, longer. Try mixing and matching at least two food groups – protein or dairy plus a fruit, vegetable and/or grain to get the right mix of vitamins, minerals and slow-burning energy.

 

Healthy Snacks for Kids

 

Six Simple Snacks for Kids

 

Here are some easy snacks for kids to keep on-hand:

 

  • Apple slices and string cheese  

  • Yogurt topped with low-fat granola  

  • Make-at-home trail mix with nuts, raisins, air-popped popcorn and mini chocolate chips  

  • A banana and a ready-to-drink nutrition shake with protein  

  • Whole wheat bread or tortilla topped with nut butter  

  • Hummus and baby carrots  

 

How Do I Make Healthy Snacking Easy?

 

Vending machine favorites like chips and cookies may be easy snacks for kids, but they’re probably not providing them many quality nutrients their growing bodies need. Healthier foods such as vegetables and cheese sticks need to be kept in the refrigerator, and out of sight soon becomes out of mind.

 

Don’t let your crisper drawer become a produce purgatory! With a little planning and prep-work, you can make healthy snacks for kids readily available:

 

  • Hard-boil eggs in batches and leave them in a bowl in the fridge. The ultimate peel-and-eat protein!
     

  • Pre-wash grapes and leave them in a colander on a low shelf in the fridge. It’s hard to resist grabbing a quick pop of produce each time you open the door!
     

  • Pre-slice veggies and keep them in a tightly closed, transparent container. This makes it easy to grab a quick celery stick or sliced peppers to dip into a container of hummus or guacamole.
     

  • Speaking of hummus and guacamole, buy single-serve containers to keep in the fridge. Single-serve containers of fruit cups, olives or even pouches of tuna are also healthy grab-and-go snacks.  

 

Smart Snacking Strategies to Encourage Healthy Eating

 

Simply having healthy snacks on-hand is one thing. Making healthy snacking easy and appealing is another. Try these simple strategies:

 

  • Leave colorful produce on the counter. Apples, pears, bananas, oranges, kiwifruit, and cherry tomatoes can all be kept at room temperature and are too tempting to pass by.
     

  • Store healthier food at eye level and more indulgent foods higher up.
     

  • Let kids play with their foods. This works great with younger kids especially. Challenge them to choose foods from each color of the rainbow. At the end of the day, go through the colors together and see what they ate. Don’t limit yourself to fruits and vegetables – pink salmon, blue corn tortillas, and yellow scrambled eggs should count, too!  

 

As the parent, you set the stage for healthy snacking for kids, but ultimately, it’s up to them to choose what they’ll eat, and how much. Things you can control are the foods you have in the house, the timing of snacks and meals, and what they’re allowed to do on their own depending on their age and ability. Your own snacking habits can also influence them, so be sure you’re making good choices yourself, too.

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