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Top 5 Healthy Snack Items for Your Children

Posted Aug 28 2010 6:36pm

Children love to have a snack when they come home from school. It is a long day and they need the energy to keep themselves up to play their sports, practice their music, dance their dances, and even do homework. These five basic snacks can be turned into the best snacks your child will ever have thanks to ChicagoHealers.com Practitioner Naturopath Dr. Melody Hart, N.D.

1.      Fruit- Natural, sweet and good for you, fruit is a popular snack choice among kids and parents. Aim for about 1.5 cups of fruit per day.

Snack Hints:

.         If you want to make fruit even more appetizing, try pairing it with low- fat, plain yogurt for dipping.

.         Stick some freshly washed grapes in the freezer for a cool snack on a hot, summer day.

.         Another popular alternative is dried fruit. If the label doesn’t list any additional ingredients to the fruit, such as sugar, much of the nutritional value remains the same (but with a higher caloric
density).

2.      Smoothies- Even the pickiest kids can’t resist fruit smoothies, which are naturally sweet and can be an excellent way to sneak nutrition into their diet. Beware of store-bought smoothies, however, which are usually full of added sugar. These end up carrying as many calories as a full meal (for a toddler).

Snack Hints:

.         Smoothies made at home with fresh fruit such as bananas and strawberries, plain yogurt, and low-fat milk will be a healthy source of calcium and protein.

.         If your child isn’t getting enough fiber or protein in his or her diet, add powder supplements to the smoothie.

3.      Cereal- Cereal is a great source of fiber, which is filling, helps with digestion and can also lower cholesterol. Unfortunately, many cereals that kids love are full of sugar. Consumer Reports investigated the sugar content of some brands and found that a bowl of Kellogg’s Honey Smacks serves up as much sugar as a glazed donut. Several other popular kids’ cereals also had hefty amounts of added sweeteners.

Snack Hints:

.         The good news is that Consumer Reports rated several kid-oriented cereals as both low in sugar and nutritious. These include Cheerios (regular and Honey Nut varieties), Kix and Life.

.         Read nutrition labels and purchase high fiber cereals so children can get the most out of their breakfast pick.

4.      Peanut Butter- Although high in fat, peanut butter is packed with fiber and protein. If your child has peanut allergies, you’ll have to steer clear of this snack choice. Such allergies have become increasingly prevalent in recent years, so it’s important to watch for evidence such as rashes around the mouth and face and more severe reactions such as difficulty breathing [source:

Snack Hints:

.         If allergies aren’t a concern, kids love peanut butter spread on graham crackers or paired with different flavors of jelly for a classic PB&J.

.         Try smearing peanut butter on a celery stalk and topping it with raisins to create a treat with flair (Ants on a Log).

.         Opt for natural peanut butter to avoid trans fats and added sugar.

5.      Trail Mix- Instead of buying pre-assembled bags of trail mix at the store; try making your own at home. Not only is it a fun activity for the kids to participate in, it allows you to control the salt and sugar content. Homemade
granola is a great source of fiber, but it can also be high in sugar if bought at the store pre-made.

Snack Hints:

.         In addition to granola, tasty and healthy ingredients include dried fruits, various nuts, unsweetened coconut flakes, peanuts, mini pretzels and pumpkin seeds or hulled sunflower seeds.

.         If added sugar isn’t a big issue, kids will love the addition of M&Ms or chocolate chips.

Tasty After-School Recipes:
1.      Pear Pinwheels
.         Whole-wheat tortillas
.         Cheddar cheese, grated
.         Pear, peeled and thinly sliced
Directions:

*Place 1 whole-wheat tortilla on a plate, and sprinkle with cheddar cheese. Cover cheese with pear slices. Sprinkle pear with a bit more cheese.

*Microwave for 30 seconds, or until cheese melts. Roll, and cut into slices.

2.      Fruit Smoothie

.         1 container (8 ounces) vanilla-flavored nonfat yogurt
.         1 banana, sliced
.         1 cup frozen strawberries or peaches
.         1/4 cup orange juice

Directions:

*In a blender, whip together all ingredients. Serve in glasses

3.      Cupid Clusters

.         3 cups Yogurt-Burst Cheerios or similar whole-grain cereal
.         1/2 cup chopped dried strawberries
.         1-1/2 cups white chocolate chips

Directions:

*Place paper liners in 24 mini muffin cups. Toss the whole-grain cereal and chopped dried strawberries in a medium bowl.

*Melt the white chocolate in a microwave on high for a minute, stirring it frequently. Combine with the cereal and strawberry mixture. Spoon into prepared cups and refrigerate until the clusters are firm, about 5 minutes.

4.      PB and Raspberry Pops

.         1/2 cup smooth peanut butter
.         1 cup plain low-fat yogurt
.         1 cup reduced-fat milk
.         2-4 tablespoons honey, divided
.         2 teaspoon vanilla extract
.         1-1/2 cups raspberries
.         2 cups raspberry juice or raspberry juice blend
.         1/4 cup sesame seeds (optional)

Directions:

*Combine peanut butter, yogurt, milk, 2 tablespoons honey, and vanilla in a food processor or blender until smooth.

*Pour peanut-butter mixture into eight 6- to 7-ounce paper cups or pop molds until they’re one-third full. Cover and freeze for 1 hour. Cover and chill remaining peanut-butter mixture until needed.

*Stir together raspberries and juice, divide among the cups or molds, and insert sticks. Cover and freeze for an hour. Then fill with remaining peanut-butter mixture and freeze for at least 8 hours, or until firm.

*Let stand at room temperature for about 5 minutes before unmolding. If you want, spoon honey around the rims and sprinkle on sesame seeds.

5.      Nutty Popcorn and Fruit Mix

.         1 package (6- to 7-cup yield) plain microwave popcorn
.         Nonstick cooking spray
.         2 to 3 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
.         2 cups potato sticks
.         1-1/2 cups peanuts or almonds
.         1 cup mixed dried fruit

Directions:

*Pop popcorn according to package directions. Pour popcorn into a very large bowl; coat lightly with cooking spray.

*Sprinkle popcorn with Parmesan cheese; toss gently to coat. Stir in potato sticks, peanuts, and dried fruit.

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