Healthy snacking doesn't have to be hard, you just have to know how to tackle snack time in a way that's both mom-friendly and kid-friendly, too! That means choosing healthy ingredients in bright colors with prep-time of 10 minutes or less. Sound like a tall order? You'd be surprised how easy it is when you try these ideas:
Let them play with their food
Moms like snacks that are healthy and fast. Kids like snacks that are tasty and fun. The easiest way to meld these two things together is to take basic snack ideas and "up" the fun factor. If carrot sticks and apple slices are starting to get old, grab your cookie cutters, part-skim cheese slices and fruits or veggies that can be cut into flat slices (cucumbers, squash and melon are good options), Get the slicing started, then turn your kids loose to cut fun shapes into the cheese, fruits and veggies using the cookie cutters. Who knows why, but for some reason, star-shaped veggies taste better than regular veggies, especially when dipped in Greek yogurt or ranch dressing!
Even if you don't have cookie cutters, you can still offer the same approach for your kids. Have them create a funny-faced snack using a round piece of deli meat or cheese as the face before creating features with cherry tomatoes, cucumber slices, spouts for hair and mustard to draw extra details.
Make a mix
Store-bought trail or snack mixes are often loaded with more salt, fat and artificial flavors than most moms care to put in their kids' bodies, but there's no denying that these types of snacks are easy and satisfying. Rather than grabbing a bag of Chex Mix or candy-infused trail mix at the store, make your own mix with healthier ingredients. Try these two easy options on for size:
Sweet 'n nutty
- 1/2 cup chopped walnuts
- 1/2 cup almond slivers
- 1/4 cup dried, unsweetened apple bits
- 1/4 cup dried, unsweetened cherries
- 1/8 cup unsweetened coconut flakes
- 1/8 cup dark chocolate chips
Mix all of the ingredients together in a bowl and dispense into individual zippered snack bags, putting about two to three tablespoons worth of mixture into each baggie. Throw a couple in your purse and keep them at kid-level in the pantry for easy access.
Salty 'n crunchy
- 2 cups air-popped popcorn
- 2 cups LesserEvil Krinkle Sticks in flavor of your choice
- 2 cup Original Triscuits, broken into pieces (or sub your favorite 100% whole grain cracker)
- 1 cup Herr's Whole Grain Pretzel Sticks
- 1/2 cup dry roasted peanuts
- 3 tablespoons vegetable oil, separated
- Salt and seasonings, to taste (garlic, onion powder and chili powder are all good options)
- Toss the air-popped popcorn in a large bowl with two tablespoons vegetable oil and season lightly with salt.
- Add the remaining chips, crackers and nuts. Toss with the remaining tablespoon of vegetable oil and season to taste with salt and other seasonings.
- Separate mixture into individual zippered sandwich bags, putting about 1/2 to 1 cup of mixture into each bag.
There's a reason why bread bowls are so popular -- there's something novel about serving food inside something else that's edible. Rather than go the route of bread bowls, try turning fruits and vegetables into bowls of their own. Tomatoes, bell peppers, zucchini, melons and more can all be turned into handy-dandy food containers. Here are a couple easy ideas:
Easy Watermelon Bowl
- 1 individual-sized, seedless watermelon
- 1 cup blueberries (optional)
- 1-2 individual cups of lowfat vanilla Olympus Greek yogurt
- Cut the watermelon in half and use a melon baller to scoop the flesh from both sides, transferring them into a separate bowl.
- Fill one half of the watermelon with Greek yogurt.
- Replace balled watermelon and blueberries into the other half of the watermelon rind.
- Serve side-by-side with toothpicks, so your child can dip the fruit easily into the yogurt.
Cucumber Tuna Salad
- 1 medium-sized cucumber
- 3-ounce can of chunk white tuna
- 2 tablespoons lowfat plain Olympus Greek yogurt
- 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
- 1 medium apple, cored and chopped
- 2 tablespoons chopped walnuts
- Salt, to taste
- Cut cucumber in half, lengthwise and scoop out interior flesh, creating a "bowl."
- Mix the tuna, yogurt, vinegar, walnuts and half of the chopped apple in a bowl, adding more yogurt, if necessary. Season with salt, to taste.
- Scoop tuna mix into the bowl and serve with remaining apple on the side. If there's extra tuna mix, place in a sealed container and refrigerate for later.
Header image credit: Tjstaab, http://www.flickr.com/photos/tjstaab/6190376835/sizes/z/in/photostream/