The author of this great article on healthy snacks informs us that they received a thumbs up from … a kid! The highest possible praise, for sure.
Getting kids to eat healthy is a bit like herding cats: it can be done, but it requires constant effort. Obviously, establishing an organized regime of healthy eating and food education is important, but the cunning parent will always have a few killer recipes up his or her sleeve.
Making healthy food irresistible to children is the key point to consider. All of these ideas are both colorful and tasty, and should fit in with your child or children’s lifestyle.
Start by using a set of small, fun cookie cutters (or a knife if you’re particularly skilled) to fashion cool shapes out of cheese. Then alternate the cheese with fruit on a pretzel stick. This can be great for picky eaters, as you can select the food combinations that your children like.
Tangy fruit, such as strawberries, apple and blueberries go well here, but use your child’s favorites where possible. If these are to be kept longer than an hour or so (in a lunch box or on a car journey), it’s worth supplying these as individual pieces for your kid to make, rather than letting them go soggy.
When kids get home from school they almost always head straight for the fridge. It’s a great idea to have some dipping snacks ready for this time of day to stop them ruining their dinner. Most kids like to dip snacks as it adds creativity to eating and lets them explore a variety of flavor combinations.
You’re free to go sweet or savory here (or even both) and put together your kid’s favorite dips. Carrots, bell peppers, celery and cucumber make great dipping sticks for hummus, tzaziki, and even low-fat cheese dips, while frozen strips of banana and fresh strawberries make great dippers for apple sauce and fruity, yogurt-based dips.
Most of us think of pizza as an unhealthy, guilt-laden meal, but homemade mini-pizzas can be as healthy as you want them to be. What’s more, you can even get your kids to have fun making them to save you the work.
Use half a whole-wheat English muffin, some passata or pizza tomatoes and some low-fat mozzarella and let them go wild with toppings like mushrooms, lean ham, fresh pineapple (try to avoid tinned, as it’s significantly higher in sugar) and a few herbs like basil and oregano.
Particularly good for summer, frozen fruit can be every bit as tasty and refreshing as popsicles. Try frozen grapes for a high-fiber flavor sensation, as well as peeled, frozen bananas (you can even put them on a stick before freezing) dipped in chocolate and chopped nuts for a cool treat that your kids will love to show off to their friends.
Also, remember that pretty much any combination of frozen fruit, low-fat milk and yogurt will make the perfect high-calcium, vitamin-rich milkshake for any time of day.
Sweet Potato Chips
This recipe might seem a bit fiddly just for chips, but they’re super tasty and contain nothing but sweet potato, a little salt and a touch of pepper. You can make these in large batches, as they keep reasonably well in an airtight container for 3-4 days.
Start by cutting the sweet potato into thin slices – about as thin as you can. Then line your baking pans with greaseproof paper. Arrange the slices so that they don’t touch, sprinkle with salt and pepper and bake at 200ºF for about 50 minutes. Make sure you don’t overcook them, and leave the middle orange before turning and cooking for another 30-40 minutes. They will be soft as you remove them and crisp up as they dry.
Sure, creating healthy snacking opportunities for your kids can be hard work, but if you try some of these recipes, I think you’ll be amazed at how readily they’re accepted and loved.
David Ingram is a writer, blogger and the father of a beautiful 12 week old girl. By day he works for Hunters in the UK, and by night he writes about his life and experiences (when he’s not changing diapers).