Although snacking can serve as a pastime for kids of all shapes, sizes and ages, there are so many healthy alternatives to junk food today that parents no longer need to feel guilty about their kids nibbling. Many experts suggest “smart snacking” is the best approach for kids – and especially teens – who want to obtain a boost of energy and something to fulfill their cravings without having the snack impede on their next meal.
Snack foods like yogurt, nuts, raw vegetables, peanut butter, whole grains and fruit can increase, and also maintain, your child’s energy level throughout the daytime, rather than just serve as a quick jolt like that from a sugary candy bar or soda.
“It’s important to make snacks healthy and fun,” says Ype Von Hengst, Co-Founder and Executive Chef of the Silver Diner Development Corps. Von Hengst recommends these snacks, which can also serve as tasty meals.
• Fruit Skewers – with Greek yogurt and honey dipping sauce.
• Edamame beans – shelled or unshelled
• Chicken Pizza Quesadilla
Kids of all ages enjoy eating skewered fruits such as strawberries, raspberries, melons, apples and pineapple. The Chef suggests that very young children can simply enjoy small pieces of fruit for dipping.
“Honey has a high glucose content and Greek yogurt is rich in proteins,” says Von Hengst. “These two food products increase endurance and fasten the recovery during physical activities.” He adds that Edamame beans “are a great finger food.” He says a one-half cup serving of shelled Edamame contains only 100 calories and is filled with many nutritional sources from vitamins A and C to iron and magnesium. The chicken pizza quesadilla combines two foods preferred by children and teens – Italian and Mexican. “Make it [the pizza] healthy,” recommends Von Hengst, “use whole wheat tortillas, grilled chicken, fresh basil, tomatoes and peppers, low-fat cheese and marinara sauce. This snack is under 200 calories.”
Go on Grain
It may not be news to parents that whole grain is the better choice for family meals or snacks, but wheat flour vs. whole wheat flour is misleading. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends you “make sure your child is getting plenty of whole grains or products made of whole grain, incorporate oatmeal, barley, whole wheat flour or bread, and wild and brown rice into their diet, while keeping in mind that wheat flour may not be the same as whole-grain flour. Review the food labels to ensure the product does include some whole grain.”
It’s also a good idea just to talk to your kids about how they can benefit from healthier choices and why they are important to your child’s growth and development.
Whether meal planning or preparing snack foods, always ensure kids get plenty of exercise. Even children who are not participating in a school sports program can get involved in activities such as the Healthy Kids Fun Run, organized by the Marine Corps Marathon. Kids ages 5 to 12 can register for event on Saturday, Oct. 27 at www.marinemarathon.com.
Tami Faram is the MCM Public Relations Coordinator. Articles in the Healthy Kids Series are presented by the Marine Corps Marathon’s (MCM) Healthy Kids Fun Run. No federal or Marine Corps endorsement implied.
A note from FAMILY Magazine:
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