Thursday, July 3, 2008

WANTED: Quick and Healthy Snacks for Kids

"Yummy snack!"

Lately, it seems, my two toddlers spend most of the day begging for snacks. Even my dear Lila screeches: "SNACK!" They act hungry all the time. We have the usual peanut butter with crackers, fruit, yogurt (frozen, drinks, etc) and so on. Now, I'm just out of creative snack ideas and the begging won't stop!

In desperation to get a child to stop begging, it's easy to just start handing them whatever will get them to quiet down quickly. Often, that's junk food. I really try not to keep junk snacks in the house because I end up doing just that! I'm trying to get my children to view junk snacks such as marshmallows, gummy bears, candy, cookies, cake, etc., as weekly treats. Not daily. I'm not going to rob my children of a normal, American childhood. We do, occasionally eat at McDonald's and, on occasion, eat boxed-frozen pizza or take-out pizza. But, we keep junk meals and snacks to a minimum. I don't need to explain why. Everyone who knows a little bit about healthy eating knows why.

A blogger friend posted a great link to this week's works-for-me-wednesday at Rocks in My Dryer. This week, readers posted meals and snacks with five ingredients or less. I found a few things I'd like to try. An apple dip, strawberry/spinach popsicles, etc. I found, however, that the 399 recipes were a little too much to go through. Quickly browsing, I saw that more than half of the meals appeared to be chicken meals. We like chicken. We don't love it. Do not need more chicken recipes.

So, I'm calling out for help! I would love healthy, kid-friendly snack ideas. Place a comment with a cookbook recommendation, recipe, tip, link, healthy-eating food blog, etc.


Amie said...

I am a huge snacker and am always looking for healthy treats for myself. One of my new favorites is toasted chick peas. I'm not sure how picky the girls are, but you just rinse & dry them then bake them with whatever spices you choose. They are crunchy and tasty (and most importantly very easy)!

Another great treat for you have a food dehydrator? We used to make our own "fruit roll-ups" by using applesauce. It was a great project for us to make ourselves + they are fun to eat! You can use all different flavors of applesauce or blend your own fruits like mango, peach, etc. to make another flavor.

Natalie said...

We do have a dehydrator! I'll ask Matt to help me with fruit snacks! Thanks!

The Dunns said...

I'm all about snacks with limited ingredients. I simply don't have time to make a lot of special stuff. My boys aren't big eaters, so this may not apply to your girls. They usually do better (and I do better by not resorting to junk food) when I keep our meals on a regular schedule. It usually goes: breakfast, granola bar snack, lunch, after-nap snack of fruit (pear, apple, banana) and crackers, dinner, bedtime snack of cereal or yogurt. I keep it simple so they know what to expect and I avoid sugary snacks and cereal as much as possible. My biggest challenge is overcoming all the sugar that daddy and grandma like to give them. :(

House Dad said...

I'm all about quick and easy for the most part:

Graham crackers
Nilla wafers - The minis are great for little fingers.
String cheese
Cut up fruit and veggies. I finally started buying a whole bag of carrots instead of the pre-cut baby ones. Cheaper and you get more.
Cereal. Cheerios are still a favorite. Campbell also likes Corn Chex.
Yogurt. The Yoplait Thick and Creamy or Whipped kinds are less messy!
Granola bars. I cheat and get the chocolate covered kind but that's about the only chocolate they get.
Tortilla with melted cheese
Coldcuts. Both girls like ham and turkey so a piece with some string cheese usually works well.

I also take a pre-cooked pizza crust (like a Boboli), cut a portion off into small bite sized pieces, drop some cheese on it and bake it in the oven for 8-10 minutes. That can be a meal for them with some fruit or veggies or just a snack.

The main snack item usually defaults to fruit though. Weekly, Between the four of us, we go through 6-7 bananas, 3-4 apples, a whole cantaloupe, a whole pineapple, half a watermelon and a bag of carrots. Nothing wrong with keeping it simple.

Natalie said...

We eat so much yogurt (we're big on yogurt drinks here) that I think I should start making my own b/c we have been spending a small fortune on it!

The Boboli idea is a good one.

They are out of their furiously-eating Cherrios phase. So, I did just order a new kind of cereal which I hope they like.

String cheese - hum. I'll have to try that again.

Granola bars are a good idea. I forgot there's a really good kind at the store down the road I should get again. Thanks!

Fruit - they eat a TON of fruit. But, it just doesn't fill them up. They sit down and eat a pint of strawberries and then beg for more food. So, I may try some homemade dip recipes I've had my eye on for veggies and fruit...Thanks for the list

House Dad said...

An alternative to the pizza idea is bruschetta. You can stick any number of things on a thick piece of bread, toast it in the oven for a few minutes.

I don't use the recipe anymore but I found that a while back and now do my own thing. Even fruit can be warmed on a piece of bread and they'll eat it like its a pancake or waffle.

And speaking of waffles... When I make them, I triple or quadruple the recipe, freeze the rest and serve them for breakfast, lunch or dinner. I've never thought about it but how would a frozen waffle with blueberries or strawberries in the batter taste to a kid?

Natalie said...

I do make homemade pancakes with berries or apples and oatmeal in them, make extra and freeze. Same with waffles. Though, I haven't added anything to waffles & they'd rather waffles over pancakes lately. And, I can make them using whole wheat and use honey as a sweetener. Thanks for reminding me of this!

I think I'm going to start making huge batches of bagels and freezing them too. The girls like them and Matt is always searching for food late at night and he's always in the mood for a bagel. Just gotta sneak in a bit of whole-wheat flour...

Oh, and yes, Holly. Our girls do eat meals at the same time every day with a regular snack schedule. Fruit is always at least one snack during the day. It's just even eggs, toast, milk, juice and cereal don't fill them up for long. They must be going through growth spurts, b/c I can't keep them full for more than an hour. I've even been making homemade oatmeal with whole milk, berries and a touch of maple syrup. They'll eat a whole bowl of oatmeal, toast, milk, diluted juice and beg for food in a hour. Even if we're in the middle of a fun project! ARGH!

Katie said...

Our current snack of choice is string cheese and small pretzels. I peel off a small strip of cheese and weave it through the pretzel holes....we call them "cheesy pretzels." Other than that, it is whole grain goldfish, peanut butter crackers and fruit here as well. Oh, and those awful fruit snacks (I only get ones made with apple sauce or fruit juice as the first ingredient) but they are still junky!

What about nuts? Can they eat those? Because Becca loves "Snack mix" which is whatever I have around in terms of cereal, goldfish, craisins, and nuts.

Natalie said...

Katie, like the pretzel idea. I used to make trail mix w/cherrios, nuts, craisins, etc. I'm going to have to come up w/a new combo b/c they show no interest lately. I like Motts fruit chews. But, can't find them here or online. I may stock up when I'm home. Or, use our dehydrator, as Amie mentioned, and start making fruit snacks that way. If they help me make them, they may be more interested in eating them...

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