Healthy Snacks for Kids
The latest US research shows that a mere 12% of American children are meeting the recommended servings of fruit and only 8% of American children are meeting the recommended servings of veggies. I’d like to think we’re better off in South Africa but I have a sneaky suspicion that if we are not a par with the US, we may be even worse off.
One smart way to get kids eating more of what they need is by focusing on snack time. According to recent data, about a quarter of kids’ daily calories come from snacks, yet kids’ between-meal bites rarely provide a full serving of fruit or vegetables.
Here are some tips for kid-friendly snacks that provide at least one serving of fruit and veg:
Offer a wider variety of options
We often get in a rut of eating the same things like apples, bananas and grapes. There are hundreds of fresh fruit and veg picks, so think beyond the banana. Kiwifruit is one of the most nutrient packed options in the fresh fruit and veg aisle (and that’s saying a lot!). Two kiwifruits have twice the vitamin C of an orange, more potassium than a banana, and as much fibre as a bowl of bran flakes — all for just 100 calories. They’re also so easy. Just cut a ripe kiwi in half and scoop it out with a spoon.
Have fun and be creative!
Kids love to help create their own healthy snacks. Use produce with different textures, shapes and colours and let your child create healthy treats that will excite her/his imagination and appetite. A great option is a fruit kebab. Chop up slices of a few different fruits and make a kebab. Dip in Greek Yoghurt.
Don’t be afraid to be sneaky if your child refuses fresh produce
A delicious smoothie or a home-baked muffin is perfect for adding extra fruits and veggies in ways that kids will never know. Butternut, apple, pear, etc are perfect for adding to muffin mix. For kids that refuse protein, you can be extra creative and add in cooked mince or shredded chicken.
Recent research found that a dip is one of the simplest ways to go from yuck to yum! The study found children were three times more likely to eat vegetables with a dip than when they were served the same vegetables without a dip. The kids also ate up to twice as much of their veggies with a dip than alone. Try baby carrots, mange tout, celery or cherry tomatoes with hummus, avocado or cottage cheese.
All forms of fruit and veggies count
Fresh may be best, but not if it means your child doesn’t reach his produce quota for the day. Fresh, frozen, squeezable or dried fruit will all count toward produce requirements. Opt for sulfur-free dried fruit or 100% pure fruit pouches.
Make produce readily available and easy to eat
Research shows that having a fruit bowl in a prominent location can boost consumption as well as having veggies cut and ready to eat in the fridge. Have a colourful fruit and veg platter on the table at snack time.