Healthy snacking is a big deal for children

Curb children’s appetites and supply the vitamins and minerals they need with healthy snacks.

Many parents and caregivers may know children need a variety of vitamins, minerals and calories in order for their bodies and minds to grow and be healthy. One way to give children the daily nutrients that they need is to provide healthy snacks throughout the day. Kids love to eat tasty snacks and what better way to provide them healthy foods daily. Michigan State University Extension recommends that kids have healthy snacks daily. Many people are confused about giving children snack’s versus sweet treats such as candies, cookies, chips, soda, etc. which contain very little nutrients and are high in sugar, fats, calories and sodium. Serving healthy snacks can curb your children’s cravings for sweet treats.

Healthy snacks need to contain fruits, vegetables, whole grains, low-fat dairy and protein. According to the Center of Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) most kids do not eat the daily recommended amounts of fruits and vegetables. So how much fruit and vegetables should kids eat daily? The current recommendations are based on kids who get less than 30 minutes of physical activity daily and for vegetables. Kids only need to eat the recommended amounts of veggies over a course of a week and not daily. See the daily fruit table  also see the daily vegetable table for suggested recommendations.

The CSPI says that some people think fruits and vegetables are costly snacks, they are actually less costly than many other less-healthful snacks on a per-serving basis. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the average cost of a serving of fruit or vegetable (all types – fresh, frozen, and canned) is 25 cents per serving. This is a good deal compared with a 69-cent single-serve bag of potato chips or an 80-cent candy bar.

Under adult supervision let children prepare their own healthy snacks they are more likely to eat them and feel good about eating healthy food. Food experts have created videos on cooking and food safety tips for adults when cooking with kids which includes always reminding kids to wash their hands before preparing a snack, tie back long hair and don’t lick their fingers the same time they are touching food.

The following are a few snack ideas:

  • Parfait: Layer low-fat vanilla yogurt and mandarin oranges or blueberries in a tall glass. Top with a sprinkle of granola.
  • Inside-out sandwich: Spread mustard on a slice of low salt deli turkey. Wrap around breadsticks.
  • Apple pie oatmeal: Make one packet of microwave oatmeal with low-fat milk. Mix in 1/4 cup unsweetened applesauce. Sprinkle with apple pie spice or cinnamon.
  • Peanut butter truffles: Mix together peanut butter and cornflakes in a bowl. Shape into balls and roll in crushed graham crackers

Families can eat these healthy snacks while watching TV, movies, football games and other recreational activities, in the home and elsewhere.

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