Thursday, July 4, 2013

5 Quick & Healthy Snacks

Snack time is important for children's nutrition for several reasons.

First, it keeps their blood sugar stable. When my own little guys go to long between meals, I can tell in their behavior and attitudes. My good-natured boys will suddenly be cranky and difficult.

Second, since children have much smaller stomachs than adults, healthy snacking helps to provide nutrients between meals in order to help them meet their daily nutritional needs.  (source)

Thirdly, when picky eating strikes, healthy snacks can ensure that children still get proper nutrition! 

It can be easy to grab fruit snack or goldfish crackers to hand to your kids when the grumpys start, or when they are at your feet whining that they are huuuunnnnngry! But what nutrients are those choices providing? Most snacks that are marketed for kids are simple carbohydrates that are a quick source of energy, but do not usually provide any nutrients or fiber. You may see an energy spike after a snack like that, followed quickly by a crash that brings them right back to your feet asking for another snack! 

What would keep them satisfied and energized is a nutrient dense snack that pairs a complex carbohydrate, with a protein source, fiber, and preferably a good fat.    

We have a handful of go-to snacks that I am sure the boys will eat, and are quick, easy, and nutritious.

1. Brown rice cake with natural nut butter & raisins: This is one of our top go to quick snacks. The boys love to put the raisins on themselves, so it's almost an edible art project. This snack is great because it has a fruit, a protein, complex carbs, contains healthy fat, and is high in fiber. 

(We use the Lundberg Brown Rice Organic Rice Cakes. They only have two ingredients; organic whole grain brown rice, and sea salt.)  

2. Raw 'caramel' dip and apple slices: This is so yummy, the boys totally think they are getting a treat. It takes a little more time to make because you have to soak the dates and cashews. Still quick, just not grab-and-go.  (Recipe from 4 Little Men and Girly twins)



1/4 cup dates
1/4 cup cashews 
1/2 Cup hot water
1/8 cup maple syrup
1/4 tsp vanilla
Dash of sea salt

Soak ages and cashews in hot water for 10 minutes. 
Drain and save the water
Purée dates with maple syrup
Add in the cashews, vanilla, and salt. 
Add in saved water until it thins to a caramel like consistency 


3. Veggies with Hummus: I always keep cut up veggies in the fridge, along with hummus divided into single serve cups so they're ready to go. Hummus is super simple to make. It will keep for about a week in the fridge, but can also be frozen. So make a big batch, divide it up, and freeze what you wont use that week for future weeks.  

1 can of garbanzo beans
1/4 cup olive oil
1 Tbsp lemon juice
Blend together until smooth

4. Banana nut butter roll ups: Sometimes I will cut them into circles, and sometimes they will get the entire roll up. Simply spread nut butter onto a whole wheat tortilla or pita bread, and roll it around a banana. Sometimes we sprinkle some dried fruit or granola on the peanut butter before rolling.

5. Yogurt with fruit and granola: I buy plain Greek yogurt (not non-fat), so that we can flavor it ourselves! It allows for more flavor freedom, and I can use the plain yogurt to cook with. We usually add cut up fruit, homemade granola, and a little honey or maple syrup. 

Those are our quick snacks, what are some of yours? What do you grab in a pinch?

Happy Snacking!

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