Sally Errey, RNCP
With the abundance of commercially processed, high sugar and brightly coloured foods available, it can be hard to teach kids about more natural, satisfying options. When preparing healthy snacks it's key to consider nutritional value along with fun presentation.
With the abundance of commercially processed, high sugar and brightly coloured foods available, it can be hard to teach kids about more natural, satisfying options. When preparing healthy snacks it's key to consider nutritional value along with fun presentation. Children actually need good quality fats for cell growth, metabolism and brain development. They also need good quality protein for growth and immunity. Keeping this in mind, "build" snacks that are more complex, that feature natural carbohydrates, proteins, and essential fatty acids found in nuts, seeds, and natural oils. Instead of having a simple piece of fruit, combine it with nut butter or a yogurt or tofu dip. Homemade fruit and nut muffins served with nut butter can also be convenient. Commercial peanut butters often have hydrogenated fats so switch to high calcium almond butter or other nut butter blends. A classic favourite that follows the rule of having a fruit or vegetable combined with protein and fat is "mosquitoes on a log" where celery stalks are filled with nut butter and raisins are pressed into the nut butter. These more "complex" snacks provide more satisfaction and make for a longer-running fuel source.
For kids, food has to look great and be fun. Kids love to dip, and making colourful bean dips can provide the essential nutrients they need. Traditional hummus can be turned bright pink by adding half a steamed beet, or bright green by adding steamed spinach or kale just don't let them see you doing it! Have colourful veggie sticks available at all times to dip, such as red, yellow and orange peppers, broccoli florets, cucumber, or any vegetable that your child likes. Flax oil can be added to sweet tofu dips, hummus or smoothies and is highly recommended by most health-care practitioners. Smoothies are also the perfect vehicle for fruit servings and a protein source such as yogurt, soy milk or soft tofu.
With a recent study revealing that 55 percent of five year olds consume less than two servings of fruits and vegetables per day, it's time to focus on having them as a basic ingredient in every snack.