Smart snacking starts with the kiddos

Published 9:46 am Wednesday, March 30, 2022

Today’s Special

Oh, my goodness, I was about to let National Nutrition Month® get by without sharing these “Eat Right” smart tips from The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. 

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March is such a busy month but no time is too busy for paying attention to what our children are eating. Because, snacks play an important role in meeting kids’ nutrient needs.  Children, maybe more than us adults, need a wholesome variety of foods from all of the food groups to take them from meal to meal.  

Kids need snacks because they need energy. Yes, we want our kiddos to feel good and run and play and use their brains; snacks provide that necessary boost.  

So, it helps to plan and portion out healthy snacks in advance. Most kids should only need 2 – 3 snacks every day, and they need them at least one to two hours before meals, so as not to interfere with mealtime. 

Mindful snacking.  Healthy snacks are best provided without distractions (like TV or electronic devices). Give kids healthy options and let them help prepare healthy snacks, when possible, too.

Here are some easy, tasty and healthy snack ideas from The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.

  • Parfait: layer vanilla or plain low-fat yogurt with fruit and dry cereal.
  • Toast a whole grain waffle, top with low-fat yogurt and sliced fruit or peanut butter or another nut butter.
  • Blend low-fat milk, frozen strawberries and a banana to make a delicious smoothie.
  • Make a sandwich on whole grain bread. Cut in fun shapes with a big-cookie cutter.
  • Pizza yes! Toast a whole wheat English muffin, drizzle with pizza sauce, sprinkle with low-fat mozzarella cheese.
  • Frozen: mix equal amounts of fat-free plain or flavored yogurt with 100% fruit juice; pour into paper cups, freeze until solid.
  • Quesadilla: Sprinkle shredded cheese over a tortilla; fold in half, microwave for 20 seconds. Top with salsa.
  • Spread hummus on a tortilla. Top with sliced turkey or ham, low-fat cheese and lettuce.  Roll it up to serve.
  • Pita power! Stuff a whole-grain pita pocket with ricotta cheese and Granny Smith apple slices with a dash of cinnamon. 
  • Microwave a cup of tomato or vegetable soup, serve with multi-grain crackers.
  • Slide right in. Fill a sliced a dinner roll with tuna, egg salad, or pimento cheese.
  • Stuff it! Microwave a small potato. Cut it open, top with cheddar cheese, salsa or more!
  • The ants go marching…Fill celery sticks with nut butter or low-fat cream cheese. Top with raisins for “ants on a log.”
  • Take a dip! Dip slices of fruit or graham crackers in low-fat vanilla pudding.
  • For inside out day. Spread mustard of a slice of deli turkey. Wrap around a sesame breadstick or a stick of string cheese.
  • S’more please. Smear low-fat chocolate pudding on a graham cracker, top with a marshmallow.
  • Almost pie. Sprinkle cinnamon on unsweetened applesauce, enjoy with a whole-grain graham cracker.
  • Homemade fruit roll-up: Puree any fruit. Spread on a baking sheet and bake in oven or in a dehydrator. 
  • Bake homemade chewy granola bars with whole-grain oats and dried fruit.
  • Mini is more! Make mini-muffins using healthy ingredients, like whole grain flours and pureed fruit. 

And remember that smart snacks also need to be age appropriate.  Some foods may cause choking: hot dogs, sausage links, chunks of meat, nuts, seeds and thick servings of peanut butter, raw apple and pear slices, whole grapes, dried fruits, raw vegetables, popcorn and chips, and small candies and chewing gum.   It’s best to avoid these for children less than 2 years, but also good to be in the same room with older toddlers when these foods are given, to be on the safe side.

Happy snacking! And a Happy National Nutrition Month® 2022! Let’s eat right every day!

Recipe of the Week

Go Bananas

What a great treat for any day or a delicious dessert for the whole family!

2 cups low fat vanilla yogurt

2 large bananas, sliced

1 cup chocolate-flavored cereal

4 tablespoons sweetened condensed milk

Layer 2 tablespoons of yogurt into the bottom of four 8-ounce clear glasses of plastic cups. Top yogurt with 2 tablespoons of sliced bananas and 1 tablespoon of chocolate-flavored cereal. Repeat layers until yogurt, bananas and cereals are used up. Drizzle each parfait with 1 tablespoon of sweetened condensed milk. Serve immediately. Option: Dulce de leche can be used instead of sweetened condensed milk. Nutrition Information: Serving size: 1 cup, makes 4 servings. 260 calories each.

Serves 4.  From the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, where you can find other healthy recipes at for your family.