Snacking can be really bad for children, but most children will crave tasty treats throughout the day.
Most children do need some additional food between mealtimes, to help to sustain their growing bodies and to give them vital nutrients. Snacks are especially important for really active children, such as those who do a lot of sports or outdoor activities. However, you should always try to restrict snacking to a maximum of twice a day; once in the morning and once in the afternoon.
It is possible to give kids healthy snacks that they will love to eat. Here are a few of the best snack ideas for kids, which beat pre-packaged crisps and chocolate:
Frozen Yogurt Pops
Yogurt pops are a perfect treat when the weather is warmer.
Low-fat and low-sugar yogurts can be put into moulds with a lolly stick and then set hard in the freezer. They taste just like ice cream treats but they are normally less sugary than shop-bought frozen treats. You can add an extra dimension to frozen yogurt bars by stirring in frozen berries before you set them to freeze.
The calcium from cow’s milk yogurt is great for helping to build strong bones and teeth in your children.
Dips and Vegetables
Vegetable sticks are really great for your children to snack on after school, especially when they are served with tasty dips like hummus.
Crunchy vegetables like pepper strips and carrot sticks are good choices, because they are strong enough to hold and dip without them starting to bend. Celery sticks are particularly good because their crescent shape means that they are able to pick up lots of dip.
Dips made with pureed beans (such as borlotti beans) and a few spices are really tasty and offer lots of essential vitamins. Small pots of dip and vegetables can also be packed into lunch boxes for your children to enjoy whilst they are at school.
Mixed fruit “kebabs” are a fun choice for children who are old enough to use kebab skewers safely. There are so many different fruits available that it is possible to make skewers which include every colour of the rainbow.
Making fruit kebabs can give children the opportunity to experiment with different colours and textures. The wide variety of fruits that you can use means that it is easier for you to get your children to eat all of the vitamins and minerals that they require, without needing to eat the same things every single day.
Although fruit kebabs are a great treat, they should not be consumed at every snack time, because some of the fruits that you use will be high in natural sugar. Although fruit sugar is not considered to be as bad as refined sugar, it can still be bad for their teeth. However, if you do want to give your children an occasional treat, you can put a light drizzle of melted chocolate over the kebabs before serving. Cool the kebabs for a few minutes after drizzling the chocolate on top to allow it to have time to set.
Your children can eat crisps sometimes, as long as they eat them in moderation. Banning foods altogether will only make them seem more appealing in the long run!
If you children are craving crisps, offer them baked options instead of the fried ones. Baked options usually contain far less saturated fat than normal crisps do. If you are good in the kitchen, you can also make your own baked crisps, including crisps from non-potato options.
Kale crisps are very popular for home-bakers, as they crisp up easily. Just give them a light spritz of oil and then bake them in the oven. Other “vegetable crisp” options include beetroot crisps or parsnip crisps. If you do want to try making your own baked crisps, you need to be able to slice the vegetables very thinly to allow them to bake well.
Mixed seeds are an excellent choice for a light snack, because they tend to be very high in essential vitamins and minerals. A handful of seeds will often include the recommended daily intake of certain vital nutrients.
Mixed seeds are available in flavoured and non-flavoured choices. Although some of the flavoured options are delicious, you should always check the nutritional values before you buy them. For example, maple roasted seeds are available which may contain high levels of sugar, whereas soy-roasted seeds may be high in sodium.
If your children enjoy growing sunflowers, it can be great fun to harvest the seeds at the end of the season and then dry them out to eat them. Lightly toast the seeds in the oven before you eat them to help to produce a delicious flavour. Add a few spices if you want to try a different flavour.