Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Helping Snacking Become a Healthy Habit

We do a lot of snacking here at our house. Between lessons and classes, after school and before games, there are a lot of hungry bellies. We have some karate classes that start right at 5 and I need to make sure the boys have snacks before they go, so they can have the energy to have fun and do their best. The thing is, I need to make sure that it is absolutely the best snacking possible.

We are reforming couch potatoes. We are in the process of making Better choices and overcoming some pretty bad habits. There have been days and times where my kids have grabbed a bag of chips and sat in front of the tv and demolished the whole thing. There will most probably been days like that still, but I would like them to be very very rare.

The youngest of my big kids turned 12 this month. That is an important age in our culture / religion and so we went to buy him new church clothes. Dress clothes aren't foreign to him - he wears a uniform to school, but I really wanted to get him something nice. Being the youngest of 4 older brothers - he gets a lot of hand-me-downs. With our finances he really has to have a lot of hand me downs. So we went shopping for dress clothes - something that would make him look really sharp.

He is a bigger kid and he has gotten bigger since school has been back in session and summer play has ended. I started out guessing at sizes and we just kept having to move up and move up. When we went school shopping he was right on the border between the largest of the boys sizes and the smallest of the men's sizes. This time, we were not just into men's sizes, but what I felt were large men's sizes. It was all I could do not to just break down and sob in the dressing room.

I didn't want to label him or take this special day / time and taint it with any unhappy memories. He is a very tender-hearted kid and I only want to build him up and strengthen him. We ended up having a wild day of it and I think lots of happy memories were made.

But a while after that, he came to me and said he wanted to make some changes in his life. He knew I was worried about him putting on a little weight and he wanted to make some changes. He is such an amazing kid and I want to help him reach those goals. And that is why it is SO important to me to help him do this the right way! I don't want him eating celery steaks for dinner and starving himself during school days. He needs to know that food is NOT the enemy and taking care of yourself only brings good things into your life.

So I made and printed up a list that I put on our family message center of healthy snack ideas for him. He wanted to make plans for himself that I felt were unrealistic and too strict (especially for a growing 12 year old body and brain!) I don't want him to be hungry or feel like there are things that are "bad for him" that he would be happier if he could have. Plus, I know that there is no bigger weak food choosing time than when you are standing in front of the fridge or pantry with hunger pains and no idea what to eat.

Hopefully this list will lead to everyone in the family choosing snacks that are a little bit better. Hopefully it will do the same in your family too.

25 Healthy Snacks for Kids

Healthy Snacks Celery
Reviewed by Sharon Denny, MS, RDN
When a snack attack strikes, refuel with these nutrition-packed snacks (you may need the help of an adult with some of these snacks).
  1. Parfait: Layer vanilla yogurt and mandarin oranges or blueberries in a tall glass. Top with a sprinkle of granola.
  2. Inside-Out Sandwich: Spread mustard on a slice of deli turkey. Wrap around a sesame breadstick.
  3. Rocky Road: Break a graham cracker into bite-size pieces. Add to low-fat chocolate pudding along with a few miniature marshmallows.
  4. Mini Pizza: Toast an English muffin, drizzle with pizza sauce and sprinkle with low-fat mozzarella cheese.
  5. Spread mustard on a flour tortilla. Top with a slice of turkey or ham, low-fat cheese and lettuce. Then roll it up.
  6. Sandwich Cut-Outs: Make a sandwich on whole grain bread. Cut out your favorite shape using a big cookie cutter. Eat the fun shape and the edges, too!
  7. Banana Split: Top a banana with low-fat vanilla and strawberry frozen yogurt. Sprinkle with your favorite whole-grain cereal.
  8. Apple Pie Oatmeal: Make one packet of microwave oatmeal with low-fat milk. Mix in ¼ cup unsweetened applesauce. Sprinkle with apple pie spice or cinnamon.
  9. Mix together peanut butter and cornflakes in a bowl. Shape into balls and roll in crushed graham crackers.
  10. Microwave a cup of tomato or vegetable soup and enjoy with whole-grain crackers.
  11. Fill a waffle cone with cut-up fruit and top with low-fat vanilla yogurt.
  12. Sprinkle grated Parmesan cheese on hot popcorn.
  13. Peel a banana and dip it in yogurt. Roll in crushed cereal and freeze.
  14. Spread celery sticks with peanut butter or low-fat cream cheese. Top with raisins.
  15. Stuff a whole-grain pita pocket with ricotta cheese and Granny Smith apple slices. Add a dash of cinnamon.
  16. Mix together ready-to-eat cereal, dried fruit and nuts in a sandwich bag for an on-the-go snack.
  17. Smear a scoop of frozen yogurt on two graham crackers and add sliced banana to make a yummy sandwich.
  18. Microwave a small baked potato. Top with reduced-fat cheddar cheese and salsa.
  19. Make snack kabobs. Put cubes of low-fat cheese and grapes on pretzel sticks.
  20. Toast a whole-grain waffle and top with low-fat yogurt and peaches.
  21. Mix together low-fat cream cheese, mixed dried fruit bits and shelled sunflower seeds. Spread on a toasted English muffin.
  22. Blend low-fat milk, frozen strawberries and a banana for 30 seconds for a delicious smoothie.
  23. Make a mini-sandwich with tuna or egg salad on a dinner roll.
  24. Sprinkle grated Monterey Jack cheese over a corn tortilla; fold in half and microwave for 20 seconds. Top with salsa.
  25. Spread peanut butter on apple slices.

Dip It! 10 Bonus Dippable Snacks

  • Dip baby carrots and cherry tomatoes in low-fat ranch dressing.
  • Dip strawberries or apple slices in low-fat yogurt.
  • Dip pretzels in mustard.
  • Dip pita chips in hummus.
  • Dip graham crackers in applesauce.
  • Dip baked tortilla chips in bean dip.
  • Dip animal crackers in low-fat pudding.
  • Dip bread sticks in salsa.
  • Dip a granola bar in low-fat yogurt.
  • Dip mini-toaster waffles in cinnamon applesauce.

Download your own list here!