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15 Healthy Snack Ideas for Kids

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by Maria Adams, MS, MPH, RD

 

Not to be overlooked, snack time is just as important as lunch for kids. A healthy snack that provides a combination of carbohydrates plus protein will keep your child going strong until the next meal. While an apple or a granola bar might be fine on its own, it will be a more complete and satisfying snack when you add some protein such as a nut butter or yogurt.

Try varying the snacks you serve your child. This will help expose them to a variety of healthy foods, make sure they are getting all the nutrients they need, and keep them from getting bored.  Here are 15 ideas to get you started:

  1. Whole grain crackers + sliced cheese + halved grapes
  2. Yogurt + granola + blueberries
  3. Sliced veggies + white bean dip
  4. Applesauce (unsweetened) + whole grain cereal
  5. Kefir pro-bug smoothie + whole grain pretzels + carrot sticks
  6. Hummus + pita bread cut into triangles + snap peas
  7. Morning glory muffin + milk
  8. Almond butter + crackers + strawberries
  9. Trail mix (e.g., cheerios , dried fruit, pretzels, sunflower seeds) + orange juice
  10. Apple slices + sunflower seed butter to dip in
  11. Popcorn + banana
  12. Green smoothie + mini raisin bagel
  13. Wheat toast with slice of cheese + orange wedges
  14. Small granola bar + yogurt tube + clementine
  15. Ants on a log (celery filled with peanut butter and then topped with raisins)

Tips on Serving up Healthy Snacks:

  • Buy snacks in bulk and portion out. One serving of grains is usually about ¼ cup for a 4 year-old and ½ cup for an 8-year old. Read the nutrition facts label for serving size information. 
  • For a younger child, try serving mini portions. Look for 4-ounce containers of yogurt and divide granola bars in half.  
  • Always pack a water bottle and limit juice. When you do serve juice look for ones with no added sugar and serve small, 4-6 ounce portions.
  • Kids generally need a morning and afternoon snack. Pick a snack time and stick to it, for example 10 am and 3 pm. This will help limit random snacking at other times.
  • The occasional snack in the car or snack by the TV is fine. And a having a picnic snack at the park or on your front steps is fun. Just remember to have your child sit when they are eating and try to treat snack time with the same respect that you would meal time.
  • Have your child help plan and pack snacks. Plan the snacks into your weekly meal plan so that every day brings something different.
  • Less processed is better. If you buy prepackaged snacks, choose those with fewer ingredients and ideally all ones that you can pronounce. Also, try to choose mainly snacks that are low in sodium and added sugars. 
  • Including a fruit or vegetable with snacks is always a good idea.  

For more information on healthy snack ideas and serving sizes go to: http://www.choosemyplate.gov/preschoolers/meal-and-snack-patterns-ideas.html.

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