What types of snacks should my child have during the summer?
A perfect question to ask as children's increase in physical activity during the summer months also increases their appetite and cravings for snack food.
While children may be tempted to choose foods with high fat and sugar content, it is important for them to eat healthy and nutritious snacks and meals during the summer months. It also is important to make high-quality and nutritious snacks that are easily accessible for children.
A child's snack should not only be nutritious, but also should be fun to eat, quick, taste good, and smaller than the portions of a regular meal. Here are some important tips to consider when buying and preparing snacks for children:
- Have your children go grocery shopping with you. If they help in the decision to buy food, they will be more likely to eat and enjoy it.
- Encourage your children to try new foods. A variety of fruits and vegetables are available during the summer. Sampling a new food each week will help increase the child's willingness to try things that are not familiar to them.
- Try incorporating fruits and vegetables into your child's favorite snacks, such as a celery with peanut putter and raisins on top, or an apple slice with crackers.
- Try serving unsweetened fruit juices. These will offer a variety of vitamins without the added sugar content.
- Serve snacks to children at least an hour before mealtime so they are hungry for the next meal.
- Nutritious foods are best to serve during snack time. If children are able to consume cookies, chips, cake and soda for snacks they will learn negative food habits that are hard to change. Too much sugar in a child's diet can lead to cavities, obesity and may spoil their appetite for meals.
- Do not make food a reward for good behavior. Children should learn to eat when they feel hungry, not to associate food with good or bad feelings and emotions.
- Designate a place in the cupboard or refrigerator that children can go to get a snack. They should have the opportunity to choose and make healthy decisions for themselves from what is designated in these places.
- Choose snacks that are easy to prepare. Children love to help out in the kitchen, so find snacks that they can assist in making.
Here are a few snacks to try:
3/4 cup peanut butter
1 1/2 cups low-fat milk
1 3.9-ounce package instant chocolate pudding mix
1 cup whipped topping
16 whole graham crackers
Line a 9-by-13-inch pan with foil. Using an electric mixer, blend peanut butter and milk until smooth. Slowly beat in chocolate pudding mix until blended. Fold in whipped topping. Pour into prepared pan and freeze until firm. Break graham crackers into squares. Lifting pudding from pan, cut into squares the size of the graham crackers. Place each pudding square between 2 graham crackers. Wrap in plastic wrap and freeze.
Makes 16 servings. Serving size: One sandwich. Nutrition facts per serving: calories, 140; total fat, 8 grams; cholesterol, 0 milligrams; saturated fat, 2.5 grams; sodium, 210 milligrams; carbohydrates, 15 grams; dietary fiber, 1 gram, and protein, 4 grams.
1 cup plain or flavored yogurt
1/2 cup low fat milk
3 tablespoons nonfat dry milk
6 to 8 ice cubes
2 tablespoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
Choose 2 from list below:
1/2 peach or banana
1/3 cup canned peaches or pears
1/2 cup pineapple chunks
1 tablespoon peanut butter
1 tablespoon frozen juice concentrate
Mix all ingredients in blender and blend on high until smooth. Store leftovers in refrigerator.
Makes 3 servings. Serving size: 1 cup. Nutrition facts per serving: calories, 170; total fat, 1.5 grams; cholesterol, 5 milligrams; saturated fat, 1 gram; sodium, 95 milligrams; carbohydrates, 35 grams; dietary fiber, 1 gram, and protein, 7 grams.
1 cup canned pineapple chunks
1 cup grapes
1 container (8 ounces) low-fat lemon yogurt
Place a bowl under a colander, drain pineapple chunks and put chunks in medium bowl. Save juice to drink later. Peel banana, slice and add to bowl. Peel kiwi, cut into bite-size pieces and add to bowl. Cut grapes in half if serving to small children and add to bowl. Stir fruit and put in individual dishes. Spoon yogurt over fruit. Sprinkle with nutmeg.
Makes 3 servings. Serving size: 1/2 cup. Nutrition facts per serving: calories, 150; total fat, 1 gram; cholesterol, 5 milligrams; saturated fat, 0 grams; sodium, 45 milligrams; carbohydrates, 33 grams; dietary fiber, 3 grams; and protein, 4 grams.
K-State Research and Extension's Web site, www.kidsacookin.com, may be helpful in finding nutritious snack ideas for the summer months.
-- Lisa Pryor is an intern with K-State Research and Extension-Douglas County, 2110 Harper St. She can be reached at 843-7058.