Time. Where does it go? One thing’s for sure, there never seems to be enough hours in the day or an end to our “to-do” list. Preparing healthy, nutritious snacks for kids is essential, and despite what you might think, it doesn’t take a lot of time to organise. Sometimes we just need a few reminders of how to make up quick snacks that look and taste great. Need some inspiration? Let’s go.
This snack has got to be at the top of the list. It’s protein packed, loaded with calcium, high in energy and only small amounts are required to satisfy tiny tummies. Cutting little pieces with fruit or crackers can often suffice, but if you’re feeling creative, try cutting them into cute shapes and placing them on a skewer.
Once again, except for children with a nut allergy, you can’t go wrong with peanut butter. It has many of the properties of cheese as it’s high in energy, extremely satisfying and contains a good amount of protein. Again, you can add it to crackers, rice cakes or bread, or serve with a small banana and a drink. With a bit of extra effort, you could make a fantastic frozen treat with layers of peanut butter, yoghurt, jelly and fruit. Just be careful of the type of peanut butter you choose. Some of the commercial varieties have successfully managed to pack in a worrisome amount of sugar and salt to their product. Check out your local health food store for some (still tasty) alternatives.
Before you all run for cover with the mention of “home-made”, take a deep breath and have a rethink. Mixing together a muffin mixture is almost as easy as preparing scrambled eggs on toast. The real winner with muffins though is that you can make a batch of them at one time, and the flavour choices are limitless. Choose fruits such as berries, apple or banana to flavour for a healthier option. Once baked, individually wrap them, place in appropriate containers and then pop them in our best friend, the freezer. Done.
Another kiddie crowd pleaser, yoghurt can be presented in a myriad of ways. Mix it with chopped or diced fruit, muesli, or freeze with fruit and honey to make fun popsicles. Remember, kids don’t need low fat so look for either plain or Greek-style full cream milk yoghurt, or if it is already flavoured be sure to check for low sugar content.
A great source of protein and iron, eggs are another easy pleaser. Hard boiling them, scrambling, or making one of the many omelette options and serving in small tortillas are great ideas. For the fussy ones, you can make them more palatable by sprinkles of bacon or cheese. Another great thing about hard boiled eggs is that they come with their own natural packaging, so they are great for snacks at a picnic, on the go or at the park.
This chickpea spread is surprisingly popular with kids. It’s a great source of protein and fibre and has an appealing nutty flavour. It works well as a dip with raw vegetables or crackers, and is a great ingredient to add with sandwiches and salad, providing it is eaten not too long after preparation time. It’s also really easy to prepare yourself and tastes even better when made at home than when you buy it at the store!
It’s best if you delete any “two-minute noodles” images that come to mind, as these are a highly refined, starchy carbohydrate and are usually stacked with MSG. Instead, cook up whole-wheat noodles in fun shapes, and then mix with salad, beef or chicken pieces, or a tomato-based pasta sauce – great source of complex carbohydrates!
Trail mix/snack mix
Purchase this pre-packaged or make your own. Mix up nuts, dried fruit, and cooked popcorn, banana chips or bran flakes for a popular and filling snack to keep kids going between meals.
Yes, we know it might seem obvious, but it’s worth mentioning apples as they tick so many boxes. Most kids love them. Apples are affordable, a great source of vitamin C and fibre, travel well, and can suffice as a snack on their own. Alternatively, pair them with other healthy snacks such as a tub of yoghurt or some dried fruit and bingo! You have the perfect snack.
It’s all in the presentation
Sometimes the simplest of foods can appear so much more appealing just by paying attention to presentation. For example, investing in some cheap, fun shaped cookie cutters can make even the most mundane foods look fun. Make bright stars out of toast, moon crests from cheese, pretty flowers from watermelon slices or even tiny animal shapes can be cut from waffles. Who knows, you may enjoy making them as much as the kids enjoy eating them!
Sage Institute of Child Care – it’s more than a job, it’s a rewarding career.
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