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Snack Food Ideas
Snacks can be a useful way to add nutritional benefits to your kids throughout the day.
Unfortunately, processed snacks are often the most easily accessible, commonly eaten, and least nutritious options around. Snacks should be viewed as a way to boost your energy levels throughout the day. Even when parents do their best to promote healthy eating, junk food that offers little nutritional value can still be tempting. Instead of taking those foods off the table completely and making them more intriguing for kids, you can try making healthy versions of the less nutritious foods. By making food yourself you control exactly what is going into it and avoid the high levels of sodium and sugar that are found in packaged, highly processed foods. Some healthy snack options to try at home are:
- Sweet and salty trail mix: Instead of giving your child a trail mix full of candy and salted nuts or sugary cereal, customize one at home that is packed with nutrient-rich unsalted nuts and dried fruit.
- Potato chips: If you are feeling adventurous, try making your own potato chips at home! Rather than frying and over-salting them, bake them in the oven. This eliminates the excess grease that is incurred during the frying process. The chips can be equally tasty and are much healthier!
- Popcorn: When you make popcorn at home and avoid the gallons of movie theater butter, it is a healthy and easily transformable snack. You can add whatever seasonings you choose to it to spice or sweeten it up. Just make sure you buy the kind that has no salt or butter added so that you can customize it yourself.
- Frozen fruit: Popsicles and ice cream are often a go-to dessert choice, especially in the summer months. Unfortunately, even fruit popsicles can be loaded with added sugar. Freezing fruit, specifically grapes, makes for an exciting project and a delicious new take on a familiar fruit. You can even make fruit kabobs, with frozen strawberries, pineapples, or any fruits your child enjoys.
There are a wide variety of healthy options available for kids. As nutritionists learn more and more about how the body functions and what the best options are for kids, more healthy options are being developed. In general there are certain rules to follow for healthy eating that include:
- Limit sugar: The American Heart Association recommends that children not have more than three teaspoons of sugar each day.
- Limit salt: For teens up to 18 years old, daily salt intake should not exceed 2,300 mg, which is the equivalent of one teaspoon. Avoid frozen foods and fast foods, as both are loaded with sodium.
- Promote fruits and vegetables: Not breaking news, but they are one of the healthiest snack options around. Apple slices or baby carrots are good to eat and nutritious.
- Whole grains: Avoiding white flour and replacing multigrain options wherever possible makes your child feel full longer. Whole grains can be incorporated into pancakes or a sandwich, by using whole wheat bread.
A good rule to follow for junk food or sweets for your kids is to enjoy everything in moderation. When you say that all junk food is always off limits, it might make your child more likely to overindulge when given the opportunity.