Healthy (and Tasty) Ideas for Your Family
Whether it’s because they’re truly hungry or just bored, kids love snacks. While a handful of chips or a few cookies here or there may seem like a small part of their diet, those unhealthy snack choices can really add up in the long run.
Melody M. Ailsworth, D.O., of Richeson Drive Pediatrics, says one of the biggest mistakes parents make is letting kids choose their snacks, explaining that “human nature will be to choose the sweetest, fattiest foods.” She says parents should use snack time to increase fruit/vegetable intake and try to keep a range of healthy snacks at home. And another big piece of advice: Avoid processed food and added sugar. “Processed foods made in a factory do not have many nutrients and often have too much sugar and salt for little ones,” Ailsworth says.
If you need some inspiration for your snack menu at home, we asked Jeanell Smith, Family Nutrition Program Assistant for the City of Lynchburg, to tell us a few of her favorite choices.
½ a large cucumber, unpeeled
1 ½ cups plain Greek yogurt
2 large garlic cloves, finely minced (or 1 teaspoon garlic powder)
2 tablespoons olive or canola oil
1 tablespoon white vinegar or lemon juice
½ teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon minced fresh dill (or 2 teaspoons dried dill)
Cut the cucumber in half, remove seeds and chop fine. Then, wrap in a kitchen towel and twist to remove as much liquid as possible—like you are wringing out a towel. Combine cucumber and all remaining ingredients in a bowl and serve with raw veggies or 100% whole grain crackers.
“For adults, this makes a great spread for a sandwich or topping for a salad.”—Smith
Fruit & Peanut Butter Dip
Blend together ½ cup peanut butter with 6 ounces plain Greek yogurt. Enjoy with banana slices, apple slices, celery sticks and more.
“Plain Greek yogurt is packed with protein and very low in sugar. Yogurt cups can have over 30 grams of sugar— every 4 grams of sugar equals
1 teaspoon (or packet) of sugar, so a yogurt with 32 grams of sugar has 8 teaspoons of sugar inside!”—Smith
Meat & Cheese Roll-ups
Cut cheese into a stick or purchase cheese sticks then roll in lunch meat of choice. Create another version using a pretzel rod, drizzle with mustard then roll the cheese and lunch meat around the pretzel.
“Both versions are very portable for those on the run. Also, they are easy to make ahead and have on hand.” — Smith
Wash grapes and pat dry then spread on cookie sheet or any flat pan and place in the freezer, leaving space to prevent sticking. Once frozen, place in container with lid or zip top bag for easy access.
“These are great after a hot afternoon outside and packed with vitamins and less sugar than popsicles.”—Smith
Choose a leaf of choice (kale, Swiss chard, lettuce). Lay out and place sandwich ingredients on top (meat, cheese, veggies). Then fold or roll up to enjoy.
“This is a great choice that will pack more veggies in a meal/snack.”—Smith