Snacking for Kids: Ideas to Keep the Energizer Bunnies Going
Recently I posted a BuzzFeed Article on my Facebook entitled "21 Easy 3-Ingredient Snacks that Are Actually Good For You". The ideas range from yoghurt bark to popsicles and everything in between. The recipes are easy, but the end results might not be too kid-friendly and not too portable for families on the go.
When you're feeding a toddler, child, preteen or teen, the most important thing to remember is that they're just like you, only smaller. Sure there's parts of their brains/guts/immune system that are still growing and developing and that changes certain nutritional requirements, but at the end of the day feeding and energizing a kid should be pretty straight-forward (cue all the parents rolling their eyes) Except they're kids. They change their mind about what they like and don't like in what seems like the blink of an eye. One day pomegranate is the best thing ever, and the next day it's the most terribly soul-torturing food on the planet. I digress...
My best suggestion for feeding active young kids is to batch cook. Stock your fridge and freezer with a variety portable snack options, when you can. Get your child to help you with the preparations if they're interested and able.
Variety is key. Like I said before, kids change their mind really quickly about what they like and they don't like. If you have a variety of things to offer them, then you'll (hopefully) never be stuck! Involving your child in food choices allows helps them learn to make nourishing decisions.
Remember, the most important nutrients are fat, fibre and protein. Fat comes from nuts, seeds, fish, eggs and oils. Fibre is from fruits and vegetables. Protein comes from meat, fish, eggs and legumes in combination with grains or nuts. Feed your child (and yourself) with these 3 key nutrients and you'll both stay satisfied for longer and your energy levels will stay steady.
Fridge/Freezer Snack-Stocking Tips For Full-Size and Growing Humans
1) The basics - you probably already do this, but stocking your fridge with pre-cut vegetables and fruits is key. One of my good friends, Jess, has two little boys under 5 and she's always got a variety of carrots, snap peas, celery, cucumber and more in the fridge. She even pre-cuts watermelon, which she hates, but her boys love. Now, I suggest prepping things both you and your tiny humans are going to eat, but if you've got time to prep just for them, by all means, go for it. Storing your chopped veg in 1-2 inches of water can help keep them fresh for up to a week.
2) The list. These are my favourite snacks that require very little prep and can be ready to go in less than 5 mins.
- Apples and Almond Butter
- Carrots and Hummus
- Berries and Yoghurt
- Whole grain bread with PB and Banana
- Walnuts and dried cranberries/any dried fruit
3) The other list. I'm giving you links to my favourite make-ahead, reasonably portable, healthy snacks.
1) These Chocolate Brownie Power Cookies are my specialty. They look like a treat (and your kids will thing they are!) but they pack a lot of nutritional punch. With high (healthy) fats, fibre and a wee bit of protein, these cookies will satisfy and energize.
2) How about these tasty looking no-bake carrot cake balls from Joyous Health? I love these because they're so easy to make, they taste just like carrot cake, and they're full of healthy foods. If you store these in your freezer, you can grab as many as you need to get you and your kids through the day!
3) Not into sweet snacking? These paleo and gluten-free chicken fingers can be made ahead and frozen or kept refrigerated for 4-5 days once cooked. They're a great high-protein snack that both you and the wee ones are sure to approve of. Recipe and photo by Lexiscleankitchen.com
4) Still want savoury? How about protein-packed turkey meat balls? Not convinced your kids will go for these? Two words. Mini pizzas. Serve these with a wee bit of ketchup or sliced tomato and maybe some cheese. Also, these meat balls freeze well, so you can store them and heat them up when needed. If you pack a cooler-bag around or simply toss an ice pack in your lunch bag, these will also be safe to eat throughout the day. Photo and recipe by www.tujawellness.com.
5) Back to sweet again. This paleo banana bread recipe works really well as muffins. The coconut flour is super high in fibre which means you and your kids will stay full for longer. Sweetened with dates and a wee bit of maple syrup, this recipe is low in sugar, which means less highs and lows for blood sugar, and less of the mood swings that accompany rapid blood sugar changes. Recipe and photo by www.primalpalate.com.
I hope these ideas have given you some snacking inspiration. The most important thing to remember is that your kids are just like you. Avoid pumping them full of processed foods and sugar when you can and your whole family will be healthier and happier. It is totally ok to use processed foods to satisfy a little snacker, but be cautious about your choices. For example, store-bought granola bars can be extremely high in sugar, you're better off with trail mix. Read the nutrition labels and always look for the fibre and sugar numbers. You want more fibre than sugar if possible and whole-foods based products.
Homemade foods generally have more nutritional value and they'll keep your kiddies satisfied longer.