The healthiest snacks for kids

Once kids get a taste or a hint that there is something far more interesting (aka junk), up for grabs they can be very stubborn when offered anything even remotely healthy. So just know that when you start offering only healthy choices, they will probably refuse them. Don’t let this dissuade you into giving in, though. They will soon get the message that junk food is off the agenda after a few missed snacks and surprise you with the choices they make.

They say it takes up to 20 tastes of a certain food before our kids take to it, so keep this in mind when offering that fruit, vegetables or dinners they have previously refused… keep offering and it will click one day.

Processed snacks are something quick that we can throw into our bags and have on call when hunger strikes, but do you know what is really in these snacks? I personally try to keep away from the over-processed, prepackaged type, not only because they usually don’t have many nutrients, but also because of the excess packaging that just gets thrown away at the end.

The most important tool you can use is learning how to read labels on the side of packets.  This is your best guide.

I’ve created these tables to act as a good guide for what to look for in kids’ snack items; remember you are looking at ‘per 100 grams’ here, so don’t get caught out by looking at the ‘per serve’ count on your food items.

As you can see, anything under 3 grams of fat,  5 grams of sugar and 120 grams of sodium, is considered the best option.

For drinks, water is always the best choice, but if you can’t break the juice habit, remember to water it down at least 50:50. Soft drinks are completely unnecessary for anybody and particularly nasty for kids, so keep these for ‘parties only’.

Fibre is a must for kids to help with bowel function and stop constipation and the ‘sore tummy’ feeling they may complain of.  Looking at the table above, anything over 6 grams is excellent (but sometimes hard to find) so aim for between 3-6 grams.

Have you ever wondered how the snacks you buy for your children stack up?  I found this excellent chart on the Choice website that rates most of the packaged snack foods.

So what are the best choices to offer as snacks? Try some of these ideas.

  • Rice cakes lightly spread with ricotta or “light” cream cheese
  • Toasted muffin with a scrape of honey
  • Microwaved pappadums.
  • Crispbreads with a low fat topping or plain biscuits.
  • Wholewheat breakfast cereal and reduced fat milk.
  • Scoop low fat ice cream with 1/2 cup canned unsweetened fruit.
  • Frozen banana (spear peeled banana with icy-pole stick and freeze) or other frozen fruit such as grapes, peeled orange or mandarin segments.
  • Fruit kebabs (skewer cubes of fruits on to bamboo skewers)
  • 200gm tub of frozen yoghurt or low fat fruit yoghurt
  • Raisin toast
  • Cheese scones or muffins

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