Every parent can relate to the frustration of their child frequently asking for a snack. Sometimes, it seems like kids want snacks every few minutes!
While it’s easy enough to provide packaged snacks or easy fruits like apples and bananas, this can get expensive quickly!
Plus, the ingredients and additives in many packaged snacks can make your child’s food cravings worse.
Dyes like Red #40, Yellow #5, and Blue #1 are found in many packaged snacks, especially those marketed to children because their vibrance is attractive. But these dyes are detrimental to human health: they are carcinogenic and are linked to behavior problems, ADD/ADHD, and so much more.
Other ingredients like sugar (and their lesser-known names like high-fructose corn syrup, sucrose, fructose, etc.), seed oils, preservatives, artificial flavorings, and more, can have negative effects on childhood development, increase the risk of obesity, and more.
What Makes a Good Snack?
There’s a lot of health and diet advice out there! But basic science concepts can be applied to choosing a healthy snack.
We all know that sweet things–sugar and sweeteners, but also substances our bodies process as sugar like wheat and dairy–spike our blood sugar. We get that burst of energy and feel alert and in a good mood, but it’s only a matter of time before we feel sluggish and cranky again.
This blood sugar roller coaster happens when there isn’t a healthy fat to slow the absorption of sweeteners. Not all fat is bad, and when healthy fats are eaten in moderation, are actually very beneficial. They keep you full for longer, so you actually eat less–which is good for your budget and waistline!
Not to mention, children need healthy fats to grow strong minds and bodies!
A good snack for children will combine something yummy and fun with a healthy fat or protein to slow the absorption and keep your child full for longer.
Here are some fun, yummy, and healthy snacks that your kids will love!
While beans in a sweet dip may seem like a bad mashup, don’t pass this recipe over before trying it!
This healthy dip can be served with a variety of sweet and salty dippers like fruit slices, pretzels, or crackers. The protein in the garbanzo beans or chickpeas slows down the sugar in the honey (or fruit dippers) so your child stays full for longer. Just blend these ingredients well:
- 1 can (15 oz) garbanzo beans or chickpeas
- 1/3 cup unsweetened vanilla almond milk
- 1/4 cup baking cocoa
- 1/4 cup honey
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
Yogurt Fruit Cups
Sweetened yogurt and fruit is a classic snack combination and irresistible for children and adults alike. The protein and healthy fat in the yogurt keep tummies full for longer than fruit alone. Plus, this snack is simple to prep and store a week’s worth of yogurt cups in your fridge for a super easy and delicious snack!
- 4 cups cut-up fresh fruit or berries
- 3/4 cup vanilla yogurt
- 1 cup granola (optional)
Evenly distribute the fruit amongst five single-serving cups. Spoon the yogurt evenly over the fruit. If using, portion granola into snack baggies to keep fresh until consumption. Keep refrigerated.
Peanut Butter Date Energy Balls
These energy balls are the perfect size for little hands that taste like a cookie without giving your child the sugar crash of a sugar-sweetened snack.
- 1 cup dates, pitted
- 2/3 cup natural peanut butter
- 1/3 cup oats, quick-cooking or rolled
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 1 Tbsp chia seeds
- 1/4 cup mini chocolate chips, dairy-free if needed
Soak the dates in warm water for about 10 minutes. Drain the dates and blend them in a food processor. Once smooth, add the peanut butter, oats, vanilla, and chia seeds. Blend until the consistency is firm but pliable enough to roll into a ball. Add more oats if the batter is too sticky, or add more peanut butter if it is too dry.
Add the chocolate chips and mix with a spoon. Portion batter into 1 tbsp balls and store in a container in the refrigerator.
Frozen Yogurt Bark
If your kid is always wanting ice cream or popsicles, try swapping out this frozen yogurt bark instead. It gives your child the same enjoyment of a sweet frozen treat without the sugar and artificial flavors.
- 2 cups vanilla yogurt
- 1 cup blueberries
- 1 cup sliced strawberries
- 1 cup granola
Line the baking sheet with parchment paper. Spread the yogurt evenly on a baking sheet. Then sprinkle the berries and granola evenly onto the yogurt. Freeze for at least 3 hours, or until firm. Break into pieces and keep frozen until serving.
Growing children need to snack throughout the day to meet their dietary and energy needs. It’s your job as a parent to choose snacks that keep them healthy.
If you’re looking to give your child a head start in school, contact Children’s Academy Childcare and Preschool today!