Do kids need snacks? Yes, they do. Kids have small stomachs and should be fed snacks between meals. Younger kids such as preschoolers need mid-morning and an afternoon snack. School age kids should have an after school snack. But this doesn’t mean junk food, fast food, high sugared snacks. What are some healthier options for snacks for kids? What are some guidelines to help ensure snacks are healthy choices?
Guidelines for Healthy Snacks – What are some guidelines for parents to follow when planning snacks for kids?
1. Serve 2-3 food groups
2. Choose a protein food– protein foods have “staying power” so the child won’t get as hungry right after the snack + a fiber rich food such as grain, fruit or vegetable
a. Whole grain crackers and cheese
b. Yogurt and fruit
c. Peanut butter and crackers, peanut butter, celery and raisins
d. A bowl of cereal (General Mills cereals are whole grain) and milk
e. Glass of milk and fruit –chocolate milk has some sugar but fun to serve as a snack
After School Snack Ideas modified from MSN: 10 Best After-School Snacks
- Frozen bananas – Banana half on a popsicle stick, roll in yogurt, roll in a crispy whole grain cereal or granola and freeze.
- Individual Pizzas – whole grain English muffin, pizza sauce, and let your child choose cheese and any other toppings such as mushrooms, green pepper, olives, onion. Heat in toaster oven until cheese melts.
- Yogurt Parfaits – Let the child help make their own parfait. Layer yogurt, granola mix, and fruit in a parfait glass.
- Snack mix – Mix a whole grain ready-to-eat cereal, dried fruit, nuts, seeds and put in a sandwich bag for a snack on-the-go
- Snack Kabob – cut up shapes of low-fat, 2% cheese, place them on pretzel sticks with grapes
- Ants on a Log – often a kid favorite – celery sticks, peanut butter or low-fat cream cheese and raisins. If a child doesn’t like raisins, cut up some dates.
- Tortillas – use a whole grain tortilla, have the child sprinkle with cheese such as Monterey Jack, fold in half and microwave for 20 seconds. Serve with salsa (Note: salsa is super healthy, loaded with antioxidants and low in calories)
- Smoothies – good way to get in protein and fruit – use low-fat milk or low-fat yogurt, choose a banana or strawberries and some ice – blend
- Popcorn – you may be surprised to learn popcorn is whole grain and healthy, sans all the artificial butter and tons of salt that some people add. SkinnyPop makes a great tasting, 100 calorie a bag snack. Serve with milk – chocolate milk for a fun treat.
- Chips and dip – choose pita chips or whole grain chips like Sun Chips, Food Should Taste Good Chips – chips on a plate with hummus, low-fat yogurt, or low-fat Ranch for a dip and baby carrots, apple slices.
By choosing after school snacks based on the food groups, the snacks can make an important contribution to a child’s diet.