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Ask Annette

Dear Annette
School is getting out and kids want snacks constantly. This year I want to feel good about the snacks I give them. Please Help!

Annette’s reply:
Congratulations on being an amazing Mom. It is easy to grab snacks from the store without much thought. Good for you for realizing their little growing bodies and brains deserve the best. Most people would not feed their pets junk food we certainly should not feed our kids it!

Processed snacks are high in sugar, dyes, chemicals, and bad oils that can really harm kids and set them up for health issues later in life. The list of culprits in processed snacks are endless. The most common is MSG. It has many alias names such as barley malt, or yeast extract so you may not realize your children are getting it. It is commonly found in things like cheese it’s, wheat thins, triscuits etc. Even though they say healthy on the box. They are known excitotixcins and can harm nerve cells.

It is important for snacks to be nourishing. Kids love snacks that they help to make themselves. Generally if fruit and vegetables are cut up and placed in front of them most kids will nibble at them.

There are great ideas for healthy kids snacks the following are just a few.

  1. Freeze grapes, kids love them on a hot day. For really young children chop then in half or quarters to avoid choking. Puree berries and freeze in cubes or Popsicle molds for healthy cold treat. Add a little yogurt for variation of fun frozen treats.
  2. Apple peanut butter and raisin sandwiches. Core apples and then thinly cut apple rings. Have kids place a low sugar peanut butter on a circle, then let kids put raisins on the peanut butter, top with another apple circle to create the sandwich. Cool in the fridge to make them easier to eat.
  3. Watermelon Pizza. Slice watermelon horizontally for big watermelon rings as the base. Top with berries, fruit such as kiwi, banana, and unsweetened shredded coconut. Even add a few dark chocolate chips. Cut slices like a pizza. Kids love to assemble and eat.
  4. Kids love wraps or rolls of any kind. Look for healthy whole grain tortilla shells. Give kids lots of ingredients to make their own rolls. Cut rolls in rings for them and keep in the fridge for a quick bite. Some combinations might be:
  5. peanut butter, banana
  6. cheese and nitrate free ham slices
  7. avocado, cheese, chicken
  8. All kids love kabob sticks. These can be made with berries, cut up fruit, cheese, or sliced nitrate free ham, chicken, avocado, cheese. Fruit kabobs can me dipped in yogurt for fun.
  9. No bake energy bites are fun for kids to assemble and even yummy for Mom as well.

Chocolate Brownie Energy bites
1 cup raisins (soaked in hot water for five minutes and then drained)

1 pinch cinnamon
¼ cup cocoa powder
1 tsp Vanilla
1 cup of cashews (or any nut)
Place all ingredients in a food blender until well chopped. Let kids form into balls and refrigerate.
High in protein, antioxidants from the cocoa, and lots of fiber

No bake peanut butter bites
1/2 cup low sugar peanut butter or any nut butter

1 cup of rolled oats
¾ cup of honey or pure maple syrup
¾ cup unsweetened shredded coconut
¼ cup of flax seed
1/3 cup cocoa (optional)
Mix and have kids roll. Keep in the fridge for fun energy bites.

For trips in the car buy a plastic hobby case with lots of sections. They have lots at Hobby lobby. Fill each section with fruit, raisins, energy bites, cut vegetables, bits of chicken or ham, cheese. Kids love lots of choices they can have fun selecting their snacks and it stays organized in the container.

Remember drinks can be a major issue for sugar. I love getting kids use to good cold water, it is what their bodies need. Try Aqua Pop www.aquapop.com . They are flavored carbonated water and great for kids for a special treat.

There are many resources on line. One of my favorites for kids is www.laurefuentes.com . She is a master of kid’s snacks. Also check out www.momables.com

Have a great summer and feed your kids with care. The habits they develop now will continue in life. I hope healthy eating is one of them.