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Monday, August 8, 2011


HEALTHY SNACKS FOR KIDS: MOVING BEYOND CRACKERS & POTATO CHIPS!
By Rossana Rutledge, RD, LD
It is time to keep junk food out of the house! Nutritious snacks can provide energy and important nutrients for your child. The following are some suggestions on how to make healthy snacks for your kids.
HEALTHY SUGGESTIONS AND SUBSTITUTIONS:

·         When it is time to eat a snack, try to have the same routine every day. For example: wash hands first, then use the high chair or ask your toddler to sit down. I found that having those kiddy table & chairs set, very helpful for snack time.

·         Offer your toddler a variety of healthy foods.  You will decide when and what to serve. Try to be consistent with time. Let your child decide how much to eat from the foods you serve. Serve your child a minimum of 2 snacks thought out the day.  Snacks are very important. They are like mini meals that can help children make up for the nutrients they missed at meal time

·         Serve veggies like baby carrots, halves cherry tomatoes, broccoli, cucumber sticks, celery or sweet bell peppers with low fat organic ranch dressing, homemade cucumber dip or hummus.

·         Instead of unhealthy dips try the following: organic vanilla or plain yogurt; plain greek yogurt; homemade guacamole, hummus (try our carrot hummus recipe!); flavored or plain cream cheese; cottage cheese; organic low fat ranch; organic ketchup; almond or sunflower spreads.

·         Chocking Warning: for children less than 2 years of age, serve only cooked veggies; make sure you ALWAYS cut them lengthwise and then into smaller pieces.  Make sure you ALWAYS cut fruits lengthwise and then into smaller pieces. Serve only soft fruits like bananas, ripe pears or ripe apples.  Always cut grapes & cherries in halves.

·         Remember that children will eat more on some days than others.   Also, remember that your child will like to eat what you eat so try to set a good example. Keep the TV off during meals. Make snack time fun (try music, singing, etc.)

·         Do not make your child’s eating the center of attention. Please, never use food to bribe or play games. Never force your child to eat. Children need to control their own eating. Never give food to a child who is very upset or crying.

·         How much? Each child is different. Start with small servings. Give about 1 TBS of each food for each year of your child’s age.  For example, if your child is 2 years old, serve her 2 tablespoons of vegetables and 1-2 TBS of hummus.

·         Chocking Warning: for children less than 2 years of age, serve only cooked veggies; make sure you ALWAYS cut them lengthwise and then into smaller pieces.  Make sure you ALWAYS cut fruits lengthwise and then into smaller pieces. Serve only soft fruits like bananas, ripe pears or ripe apples.  Always cut grapes & cherries in halves. Don’t feed a child that is upset or crying. Children under the age of 4 can choke on foods like hot dogs, popcorn, nuts, raw carrots, grapes, candy, jelly beans, gum or hard candy.

EASY, FUN & NUTRITIOUS KID APPROVED SNACKS!

·         Apple, Almonds, Apricot or Avocado:
peeled them, cut them in wedges and serve them with one of our suggested healthy dips! Almonds about ¼ cup is just the right amount for kids to munch on. Sever almond butter with apples. Warning: Do not give nuts to children under 3; they can be a choking hazard. If there is a family history of food allergies, make sure you talk to your child’s pediatrician first before giving nuts to your child.

·         Banana, Baby Carrots or Broccoli:
peeled them, cut them and serve them with one of our suggested dips! Combine banana with graham crackers, organic low sugar cereal or vanilla yogurt.

·         Cantaloupe, Cereal, Cherries, Chick peas, Cottage Cheese, Cheese & Cucumber:  
who says you can’t revisit breakfast foods for snack time? Mix dry cereal with raisins & yogurt.  Cut peeled & cucumbers sticks to dip in yummy hummus.  Mix cottage cheese with can pineapple.  Serve cheese pieces or cheese sticks with multi grain crackers (for kids ages 3 & up). Cut fresh cheese slices into shapes with assorted cookie cutters & combine them with veggies with fun colors. Chocking Warning: for children less than 2 years of age, make sure you ALWAYS cut fruits/veggies lengthwise and then into smaller pieces.  Offer only soft cheese like cottage cheese.  CHEESE STICKS:  cut the lengthwise. Buy the softer mozzarella version like Trader Joe’s fresh mozzarella sticks. Never give hard cheese cubes to children less than 2 years of age. 

·         Dates & Dried Cranberries:
dates are more suitable for older kids. Just cut them really small & mix them with dry cereal, yogurt or add them into your homemade muffins!

·         Edamame!
these soybeans are a great source of protein! You can keep in them in the freezer & they are ready in 3 mins! Plus Kids love popping them out of their pods as much as they love the taste!

·         Frozen Banana with Nuts, Fruit Cup, Fruit Rolls, Fruit salad or Fruit Sauces:
if berries are in season make a berry salad & serve it with mini waffles with a touch of maple syrup. . . YUM! Try to offer fruit rolls or fruit sauces only if you will be snacking away from home. They are an excellent choice for the “mommy on the run,” or as treat in lunch boxes. Frozen Banana with Nuts: suitable only for kids 3 & up:  dip a banana cut lengthwise in honey or maple syrup, roll it in crushed nuts and stick it in the freezer for an amazing treat during summer time.  Warning: Do not give nuts to children under 3; they can be a choking hazard. If there is a family history of food allergies, make sure you talk to your child’s pediatrician first before giving nuts to your child. Do not give Honey or corn syrup until 1 year of age. They can cause infant botulism which is a food poisoning that can lead to death.

·         Graham crackers, Halves Seedless Grapes & Guava:
dip graham cracker sticks in organic vanilla yogurt, mix them with green & red apple wedges; spread organic strawberry jam mix with whipped cream cheese & top it with sliced bananas. . .YUMMY! Serve grapes

·         Hummus: 
kids love dips, and this one, made from pureed chickpeas and sesame seeds, is a great tasting nutritious dip that goes well with crunchy veggies or soft whole wheat pita bread.

·         Jelly:
try organic jelly on mini rice crackers. Serve with banana or peeled apple wedges.

·         Kiwi:
suitable for kids ages 3 & up. Serve them with fresh cut strawberries or in fruit salads.

·         Low -fat Chocolate Milk:
suitable for children 2 & up. Serve it with any snack. Kids just love chocolate milk!

·         Mango, Melon, Multigrain Bread or Mini Waffles, Muffins:
cut multi grain bread into shapes with assorted cookie cutters & combine them with almond, peanut or sunflower butter, nutell (a chocolate-hazelnut spread), organic jam or jelly, cream cheese and more! Warning: do not give nuts to children under 3 specially If there is a family history of food allergies, make sure you talk to your child’s pediatrician first before giving nuts to your child). Homemade mini bran muffins make a great healthy snack for your little ones.

·         Nectarines:
always serve ripe, peeled and cut in wedges for kids under 3 years of age.

·         Oatmeal, Orange slices:
 
are not suitable until 1 ½ years of age.  Serve juicy, sweet seedless orange wedges with graham crackers, halves grapes, and more. Mix oatmeal with cinnamon, small apple cubes or raisins!

·         Papaya, Parfait, Peach, Pita Bread:
serve whole wheat pita bread with hummus, or dip it with a mix cream cheese, a bit of sugar & cinnamon! To make a parfait top yogurt with kids friendly cereal with fresh berries  and you’ve got yourself a healthy alternative to an ice cream sundae.

·         Raisins, Raspberry, Rice Crackers:
 
raisins in mini boxes are perfect to keep on hand in your purse, car or diaper bags. You can mix them with cereal, yogurt, fruit salads, fruit cups and more.  Warning: dried fruit are usually a choking hazard for kids under 2. Serve fresh raspberries with sweet, ripe melon pieces. Mini rice crackers are the ideal snack on the go. More suitable for children ages 2 & up.

·         Strawberry, Smoothies:
fresh cut strawberry goes well with almost all other snacks like yogurt, cottage cheese, other fresh fruits, animal crackers, natural flavor gelatin, mini waffles, mini pancakes and more! Fruit smoothies are ideal snack for picky eaters.  Blend up fruit with low fat milk and yogurt to make one of these tasty treats.

·         Water, Watermelon:
always offer water at snack time. It is important to avoid or to limit juice to no more than 4 to 6 oz per day. If your child is thirsty, offer her/him water instead of sweet drinks. Sweet drinks can make your child feel full. In hot weather, serve fresh chopped fruit along with water instead of juice.  If your child is involve in any type of physical activity class, for example little gym classes or soccer, offer low fat chocolate milk along with water instead of juice.  Please avoid serving sport drinks to young children. By 1-2 years of age, your child should be drinking only from a cup or sippy cup now, not a from a baby bottle.

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