Two to three well-timed snacks can reduce feelings of hunger between meals and increase the amount of nutrients in the body. By offering the right foods at the right times, snacks can play an important role in providing much-needed energy boosts between meals. The best snacks are nutritious—low in sugar, fat, and salt.
Here are some healthy snack ideas for the ages.
Snacks and Preschoolers
At this age, little ones might enjoy the chance to choose their snack from the options you present. The desire for sweets can be quite strong at this age, but you can avoid the struggles. Don’t offer candy and cookies at snack time. You can decide not to stock them at all or, if you do, to keep them out of sight.
Healthy snack ideas for preschoolers:
> cut-up fruit (small and soft enough to avoid choking)
> veggie sticks with low-fat dip
> whole-grain crackers topped with cheese
> low-sugar, whole-grain breakfast cereals
> graham crackers
Snacks and School-Age Kids
An after-school snack can help kids stay focused on homework and other after-school commitments. Pack healthy snacks for kids who aren’t coming right home or leave things in the fridge that can be grabbed quickly.
Healthy snack ideas for school-age kids:
> low-sugar, whole-grain breakfast cereal with low-fat milk
> low-fat string cheese
> fruit smoothies made with low-fat milk or yogurt
> nuts and raisins
> whole-wheat pita slices, cut-up veggies, and hummus
> whole-grain pretzels
> fruit slices or berries with yogurt
Snacks and Teens
Your teen might have sports, a job, an ever-expanding social calendar, money to spend, and car keys. With this much independence, you can’t police what your teen eats, but you can encourage healthy snacking by keeping nutritious foods at home that your teen can take along.
Healthy snacks for teens include:
> veggie sticks with low-fat ranch dip or hummus
> low-fat, protein-rich granola bars
> fresh or dried fruit
> trail mix with nuts and raisins
> air-popped popcorn
> hard-boiled eggs
Healthy snacking can be a challenge for kids at any age. But, if you’ve set the stage right from the start—offering mostly nutritious choices at home and encouraging good alternatives when away—they are more likely to reach for something healthy when a hunger pang strikes.
Smoothies are hugely popular, even with kids who claim to not like fruits, or yogurt, and it’s easy. Use whatever fruit you have and add a little milk, juice, some yogurt and ice cubes. (Mix in some broccoli and flax meal to really up their fiber intake. They will never know!)
You can find kid-approved smoothie recipes on Black Hills Family’s Pinterest board, today.