I had a number of requests for snack ideas and since my computer crashed yesterday I no longer have the fun posts I was working on for this week. sniff, sniff. I feel very strongly about feeding children well, not only for the immediate benefits but the lasting effects that learning good eating habits has on their future. I have strict guidelines in my house where food is concerned and have found great success in such consistency. Kids need snacks (heck, I need snacks) but hunger can stike at inopportune times, so preparation is the key. To me, a snack is simple AND healthy. If it has no nutrition or is only "enriched" with vitamins (therefore - fake food) it is a treat. If my kids want a treat, they compensate for it by eating roughly twice as much really healthy food first.
Our snacks start with a vegetable, if they are not hungry enough to eat a vegetable, they are not hungry enough for a snack. Too many kids (and adults) eat all day which causes our hunger cues to get messed up and leads to overeating, mindless eating and eating because we are bored.
These are our standard snack-on vegetables:
*cucumbers - I let them request the way they are cut (rounds, sticks, wedges, thinly sliced...) Giving choices increases their cooperation.
*peppers - only my oldest chooses these for snacks, any variety but green.
spinach - prewashed, organic, baby spinach that I can just toss in some dressing. Another thing I do with spinach is make what we call "super green food." This is blanched and pureed spinach. I think it is crazy how much it is requested--not because they like it, but because only 5 bites is a serving, so it is a fast, get-it-out-of-the-way-so-we-can-get-to-the-good-stuff vegetable.
sweet potatoes - diced, pressured for 3 minutes and sprinkled with cinnamon warm or cold.
*carrots - for ease we often get those organic baby carrots that are portioned out in little bags.
*edamame - I will buy packages of fresh and divide them into portion sized bags for easy grab and go. They freeze well and thaw fast (Brik likes them best frozen)
green beans - leave them whole, pressure them for 2 minutes and eat with salt hot or cold, especially good with hummus.
*freeze dried corn and peas - really great for long trips.
frozen peas and corn - yep, right from the bag.
Fillers are things my kids eat easily and help carry them to the next meal.
toast - usually with peanut butter.
beans - the kids really like S&W brand chili beans.
*nuts - raw almonds or walnuts.
avocado - diced and sprinkled with salt.
*tomatoes - little cherry or grape varieties.
egg - hard boiled or cooked for a couple minutes on a fry pan.
kefir/yogurt - plain, add honey or real maple syrup if needed. Flavored yogurts fall into the treat category--too much sugar.
leftovers - parts of meals that won't be useful in the next few days.
Fruit is like the dessert of a snack - it's what they are working towards.
*grapes, *raisins, oranges, *apples, melon, berries, *banana, pineapple, peaches, pears, mangoes...
ugly smoothies - these are fruit, kefir and spinach, we love them for special occasion snack desserts.
Kids are funny, they go through stages where they don't like something, then love it, then hate it again. Most kids resist new things (and rules) but if you stick to it, keep offering new things again and again and have a "just one bite" rule, they can learn to eat better. Try to simplify, most people would never dream of eating cold green beans or sweet potatoes or oatmeal, or sloppy joes...my kids prefer their foods cold. So save yourself the time and the harmful microwaves - let them try it straight from the fridge.
*Grab and go.