Giving snacks to your kids isn't as simple as it used to be. Before research on trans fats and sodium levels, cookies and chips seemed like a fine after-school or daytime snack. With childhood obesity and diabetes at elevated levels, finding healthy snacks for your kids that also taste good is a challenge. With a bit of effort and creativity, put together nutritious snacks that your kids will love, while helping them harness the energy they need to get through the school day.
1. Healthy Muffins
Store-bought muffins might disguise themselves as healthy, but more often than not they are packed with refined sugars, fat and sodium. Make a healthy alternative at home by using whole-wheat flour and muesli or oatmeal. Leave out the refined sugar and sweeten with maple syrup. Better yet, pack muffins with bits of fruit to give them flavor. Peach, pear or apple are all delicious flavors for muffins. Make carrot and cinnamon versions, or include any kind of berry in bite-size muffins.
2. Popcorn and Snack Foods
Like so many snacks, popcorn gets a bad rap because store-bought varieties are often high in sodium and fats. Homemade popcorn is quite healthy if you leave off the butter and heavy salt seasoning. Instead, flavor popcorn with Parmesan cheese, a salad dressing mix, or with spices such as garlic powder, chili powder or cumin. Even plain popcorn is a treat once your kids gets used to it. Other healthy snack alternatives include whole-grain crackers, pumpkin seeds, nuts and grains. Make your own trail mix with nuts, seeds and dried fruit or raisins.
3. Fun with Vegetables
Veggies are a classic healthy snack, but kids sometimes balk at them. Spruce them up by serving them sliced into dipping sticks with hummus or salad dressing as a dip. Make "ants on a log" by spreading peanut butter or another nut butter on a celery stick and topping with raisins. Use leftover veggies to make a quick snack wrap. Roll them up in a whole-wheat tortilla with low-fat cream cheese, and serve them whole or sliced for pinwheel snacks.
Instead of buying prepackaged flavored yogurt, make your own by adding berries to plain yogurt. Make a delicious yogurt smoothie as an afternoon summertime snack. Simply put yogurt in a food processor with low-fat milk or soy substitute, and whatever fruit you and your kids choose. Mix and serve. Use low-fat cottage cheese as an alternative snack to yogurt. Serve with cinnamon or maple syrup.
- Comstock Images/Comstock/Getty Images