Monday, October 21, 2013

Mommy Mondays - A Better Snack

A long time ago (and by long I mean well before I had babies) I was watching Dr. Oz talk about healthy eating...specifically feeding children healthy.  He said that crackers were the worst snack that well meaning parents feed their kids!  He explained that crackers are a filler food, providing no nutritional value.  They actually fill up teeny tiny tummies so much that there is no room for nutrient dense foods!  He wasn't saying that crackers are bad, they are just not good!  Don't ask me why but this information really resonated with me and it something that I always think about when I plan Lacie's snack.  Getting anyone to eat healthy is a challenge, but we can do so much better then grabbing a handful of goldfish crackers when we make a snack for our kiddos!

The kid-friendly version of wine and cheese is grapes and cheese!  It's a favorite in our house!  You will see that the grapes are cut up nice and small to prevent choking (something that really scares me from all my years working as a teacher).

Why do we give crackers?  They are easy and liked by most children.  With a little creativity, you can make easy and likable snacks that pack a much greater nutritional punch.  Like meal time, you shouldn't stress too much about snack time.  Similar to last week's Mommy Mondays post It Doesn't Have to be a Meal, snack time does not have to be fancy.  There are plenty of grab and go items that are healthy and provide a good nutritional punch!  It is also super easy to whip up something healthy, like a smoothie, for on-the-go snacking!  Lacie is a great eater but doesn't love to drink her milk.  I have been offering her this fall smoothie about twice a week to get in that extra calcium!

Lacie's Pumpkin Pie Smoothie:

Three Easy Ingredients:
  • 1/2 cup pumpkin puree (canned pumpkin, like Libby's - do not use pumpkin pie filling!)
  • 1 cup milk (I used whole milk but you can use whatever type of milk you have on hand)
  • 1 tsp pumpkin pie spice (if you don't have this seasoning mix just use some cinnamon)
Whip It Up:
  1. Place all ingredients in your blender, add in a few ice cubes, blend until smooth
  2. Pour into a cup and serve (or you could just blend it in a single serve cup like I did)
How easy is that?!?!

Yes, this teeny tiny 2 year old drank that entire smoothie! 

Still looking for more snack inspiration?  Below I listed a few easy snack choices from the 4 groups I use to make a meal - fruit, veggies, protein, and whole grains.  Pick one item for not so hungry kiddos and mix and match two items for those with bigger appetites!

Fruit Snack Ideas:

  • banana (whole or sliced)
  • grapes (please please please cut these up for younger kiddos...they are a choking hazard)
  • apple slices 
  • strawberries 
  • any type of fruit that you have pre-diced in the fridge...
  • fruit smoothie - homemade 
  • fruit pouches - yes the ones in the baby food aisle!  Older kids love to eat this as well.  Just twist off the cap and hand to your child to "drink."  No mess!  You can also find them next to the applesauce!  Get organic if possible!

Vegetable Snack Ideas:
  • Kale Chips
  • carrot sticks (for older kids)
  • celery sticks
  • peas (cooked but served cold from the fridge)
  • pepper slices (use different colors for a fun colorful plate)
  • green smoothie (a spinach or kale based green drink)

Protein Snack Ideas:
  • hummus (homemade or store-bought) 
  • organic string cheese (a Lacie approved favorite) 
  • beans - black, kidney, white, pink, etc
  • edamame 
  • sunflower seed butter, soy butter, nut butter, or peanut butter (just not in our house)
  • 1/2 cup greek yogurt 
  • a hard boiled egg or an egg cupcake

Whole Grain Snack Ideas:
  • slice of sprouted grain bread
  • a whole wheat muffin like these "sunny days" muffins
  • homemade granola bars
  • whole grain cereal 
  • whole grain crackers (I know I said no crackers but I was really talking about things like goldfish and saltines...there are definitely healthy cracker options just read the labels)
  • slice of homemade bread like pumpkin or banana

Some Mix and Match Snack Ideas:
  • apple slices with sunflower seed or nut butter
  • hummus and pita chips
  • cheese and grapes (the child friendly version of cheese and wine)
  • homemade trail mix (sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, raisons, other dried fruit, mini chocolate chips) 
  • greek yogurt with diced fruit
  • celery sticks with sunflower seed butter and raisons

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