Wednesday, 7 January 2015

DIY: Easy, Healthy, Fun Snacks

New Year's Resolution: Cleaner, healthier eating.

Feeding your family can be an added stress in your life. From coming up with what to make for dinner every night to dealing with food allergies, eating can sometimes feel like a burden rather than a pleasure. Snack time is often overlooked when it comes to eating; a throw away cheese and crackers addition to a busy day. It doesn't have to be so! (At least, not every day.) Just follow these three tips when putting together snacks for your kids, and you can't go wrong.
  1. Keep it simple. (Easy)
  2. Make it colourful. (Healthy)
  3. Give it a little flair. (Fun)
Keep it simple:
It is so tempting to reach for that box of fish shaped crackers and a glass of juice when your little one wants a snack in the afternoon. When you're tired from running around all morning (and possibly not sleeping through the night) anything bite sized and/or ready to serve is an understandable go-to. If at all possible, however, you should make it your goal to avoid filling up on sugar, salt, and bleached flours. Healthy snacks don't have to be hard, and a balanced snack will result in a more satisfied toddler or preschooler. As a bonus, you'll be more inclined to snack healthy if you're already putting it together for your son or daughter. To keep it simple, all you need to do is pick two (or all three) of the following - Vegetable/Fruit, Protein, Whole Grain and voila! a healthy snack that will leave you and your child feeling full longer.

*Apple slices (fruit) and almond butter (protein)
*Yogurt (protein) and mixed berries (fruit) and low fat granola (whole grain)
*Whole wheat pita (whole grain) and hummus (protein)
*Cottage cheese (protein) and peaches (fruit)
*Celery (vegetable) and peanut butter (protein) and raisins (fruit)
*Tortilla (whole grain) with cream cheese (protein) and cucumbers (vegetable)

You get the point, so moving on...

Make it colourful:
The easiest way to ensure that your child is getting all the vitamins and nutrients they need is not one of those gummy supplements, it's eating a rainbow of produce every week. When you're at the grocery store, try to buy at least three different colours of fruits and veggies at a time and switch the colours up each week. The one consistent colour should be dark green (spinach, kale, broccoli, etc); try to include it every time as it packs the most nutritional punch. You might feel that it's next to impossible to introduce bright, colourful vegetables into the diet of a toddler who lives on mainly chicken fingers and plain noodles, but don't give up. Set a one taste rule and continue to serve the same vegetables and fruits often (prepared in different ways), and you will succeed in broadening LO's palette. Meals and snack times aren't war epics, they're action adventure films!

* Switch to white plates to highlight the bright, beautiful colours of the produce you're serving.
*Try preparing food in different ways (raw, steamed, puréed, in a stew, with a sauce, etc.). Just because your daughter doesn't like the crunch of baby carrots, doesn't mean she wouldn't like a puréed carrot soup.

Give it a little flair:
Food isn't just about taste. Why else do you think Food Network shows give equal credence to presentation as to taste? Presenting food to your child in a thoughtful way helps to make them take notice of different textures of foods. Children love novelty! This doesn't mean painstakingly cutting out every piece of toast in the shape of an elephant and/or making every dinner serving into the shape of a funny face (spaghetti noodle hair, anyone?). What it does mean is taking a little time to make healthy snacks a highlight of your child's day in whatever way works for you. If children think of food as essential AND fun, they're more likely to be adventurous. It might be as simple as eating your snack at the kitchen table instead of in front of the TV to give the food more distinction.

*Name Game - Read a book before snack time and present the snack according to the theme.
     ie. Read "Armadillo Rodeo" by Jan Brett and serve "Buckin' Bronco Bites."
          Read "On the Moon" by Anna Milbourne and serve "Rocket Fuel."
*Show and Tell - Make an effort to present the snack in a novel way.
     ie. Pour pancake batter in the shape of the first letter of your child's name.
          Serve a yogurt parfait in a tea cup and let your child sprinkle the granola on top using the sugar bowl and spoon and stir.
*Let's Play - Make snack time a game rather than an after thought.
     ie. Pretend to be a waiter at a restaurant serving the snack to your child as customer.
          Put out a blanket on the living room floor and eat the snack at an indoor picnic.

Borrowed from Little Food Junction

Borrowed from

What's your favourite healthy snack? Let's help each other eat cleaner in 2015!

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