Healthy snacking for kids (and big kids)

These easy, healthy snacks should help keep your little ones from having too many tantrums in between meals...

"Dad, for just once can you not pretend to eat my fingers? It's not funny and never has been!"

Shona Wilkinson, Head Nutritionist at NutriCentre says, "Kids need snacks in between meals to keep their energy balance and support concentration and focus. Snacks should be low in sugar and salt and full of complex carbohydrates such as wholegrains and protein such as cheese, yoghurt, nuts and seeds."

Here are some easy ideas from Shona perfect for kids-on-the-go...

Healthy fruit yoghurt. Make your own by stirring in home-made fresh fruit purée into natural or Greek yoghurt. To make the purée, chop fruit e.g. apples or pears and cook gently in a saucepan with a few tablespoons of water until soft. Puree in a blender until you have a smooth consistency, adding some cinnamon or vanilla extract if you like.

Sticks 'n' dips. Raw vegetable sticks and dips are so easy and quick. Chop up carrots, peppers, celery or cucumber and serve with reduced fat hummus,  guacamole, salsa or savoury-flavoured yoghurt.
Home made kale chips. These are full of vitamins A, C, K and fibre. Kale chips are an excellent way to get your child eating more greens. To make your own toss kale leaves with a little oil and some spices if you like. Bake on a lined baking tray  at Mark 6/200°C for 10 to 15 minutes. Cool and serve.
Nut + seed butters. "Nut and seed butters are a slow release of energy and will balance energy levelsthroughout the day," says Shona.  Choose nut butters without added oil and sugar, and are great pair with rice cakes, oatcakes, apple slices or vegetable sticks.

Trail mix. Trail mix snack bags are great and an opportunity for children to get creative, adding nuts, seeds and dried fruit to make their own mix. Give kids a selection of their favourite bits, and get them to shake them up in a large jar, ready to decant into small pots or bags.

Popcorn. Popcorn is a good source of fibre and there are lots of flavouring options to try when making your own. Natural popped corn is low in fat too, and low in calories. 

Cheese chunks with fresh fruit. Cut cheddar cheese into bite-size chunks and serve three or four chunks with a few grapes or pieces of fresh or canned pineapple. Thread onto cocktail sticks for older children. "This is an easy way of increasing their protein intake and also adding to their five a day."


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