Feb 3, 2011

The 20 Best Snacks for Kids!

Toss out the junk food and start making snack time fun again! Check out these 20 kid-friendly ingredients that make great snacks.

Cheese
The protein in this kid-friendly snack keeps energy levels high until dinnertime. We like to stick salt-free pretzel sticks into cubes of low-fat cheese to make "satellite snacks," but you can also make cheese more interesting to kids by cutting it into fun shapes with a cookie cutter and making kabobs with your favorite fruit.

Peanut Butter
This versatile childhood favorite has plenty of protein and fiber. For a change, try making silly PB&J sandwiches with toasted mini waffles or rice cakes instead of bread, or try it with yogurt and raspberries in a yummy frozen treat that's super fun to eat.

Healthier Baked Goods
Your child will never guess you're sneaking fruits or vegetables into her diet when you bake them into yummy muffins or breads. Banana bread, zucchini muffins, and carrot bars are a few of our favorites for kids. Our tasty Yam and Jam Muffins contain beta-carotene and potassium from the sweet potatoes, but only you will know.

Whole Grain Cereal
With vitamins, calcium, and fiber, a bowl of enriched whole grain cereal with milk and fruit is a power-packed snack or healthy start to the day. For a fun and flavorful twist, try our cute clusters with yogurt-covered cereal and dried strawberries.

Quesadillas
You can mix anything with a calcium-rich cheese quesadilla: chopped vegetables, leftover cooked chicken, or even shrimp. Try our Bean and Cheese Quesadillas, which are easy to make and fun for kids to hold. Don't forget to buy a chunky veggie salsa -- with the folate in the corn, the lycopene in the tomatoes, and the fiber in the beans, this snack packs a nutritional punch.

Yogurt
Low-fat yogurt is an excellent source of calcium, and children love it dressed up. To add taste and nutritional value, whip up a yogurt parfait with berries and granola or make a homemade fruity yogurt pop that beats sugary store-bought frozen treats any day.

Eggs
One egg provides a 4-year-old with almost one-third of her protein requirements for the day. Keep a bunch of hard-boiled eggs in the fridge (they last for seven days), or scramble an egg and roll it up in a flour tortilla. Another great idea: our easy breakfast pita that can be made the night before for an on-the-go meal.

Sweet Potatoes
Sweet spuds are some of the most nutritious vegetables around: They're packed with vitamin A and are good sources of B6, C, and folate. These simple, delicious chips are great alternatives to the greasy, store-bought variety.

Hummus
Made from pureed chickpeas, hummus is an excellent dip for kids. It has an appealing nutty flavor, is thick enough not to be messy, and contains folate, vitamin B6, and iron. Serve hummus with cut-up vegetables or salt-free crackers for dipping, or use it to make a pita bread sandwich.

Noodles
Pasta is a fabulous source of complex carbohydrates. Pick some in your child's favorite shape, and cook up a batch to keep in the refrigerator. At snacktime, microwave a half-cup serving tossed with veggies or cooked chicken and jarred tomato sauce. Our easy protein- and fiber-rich penne has only four ingredients and is done in 20 minutes.

Pears
Rich in fiber and available year-round, pears come in many delicious varieties. Serve up equally nutritious canned pears with a small bowl of low-fat cottage cheese or pack a juicy whole pear in your child's lunch box. For an after-school snack, our Pear Pinwheels are perfect picks with three easy ingredients.

Smoothies
Kids go crazy over these delicious sippable treats, and they're packed with nutrients. Use nonfat vanilla yogurt, 100 percent orange juice, and a banana as the smoothie's base, then experiment with a combination of cut-up fresh or frozen fruit. It's a great way to sneak two or three servings of fruit and fiber into your child's diet.

Snack Mix
Toss together a healthy combo of nuts, pretzels, whole grain cereal, banana chips, and popcorn for a handy, portable snack. Nuts contain must-have minerals such as magnesium, iron, and zinc. Try our kid-friendly Nutty Popcorn and Fruit Mix, or make up one of your own yummy combinations!

Low-Fat Ham
It tastes just as good as regular ham, but the low-fat version is much healthier and a great way to boost your child's protein intake. Roll up a slice on its own or with a piece of cheese, make mini crustless ham sandwiches, or try our Ham and Cheese Crepes with diced ham, melty cheese, and tomatoes baked inside.

Raisins
Raisins have a lot of good things going for them such as fiber, potassium, and vitamins. Even if your picky eaters aren't going for a handful of raisins out of the box, we have a super yummy raisin snack they won't be able to pass up. Kids will love to dip and swirl apple wedges or carrot sticks for a healthy and delicious scoop of creamy covered raisins.

Apples
Apples are the go-to healthy fruit, but if you're feeling the boring apple blues and want to switch up your applesauce routine, try this delicious Instant Apple Crisp to get the vitamin C and fiber you've come to count on from apples. For an added treat, sprinkle with fresh blueberries and a dollop of low-fat vanilla yogurt.

Whole Grain Waffles
For a fun alternative to peanut butter and jelly, try whole grain waffles for a boost of iron and vitamins B6, B12, and A. These cool, kid-approved waffle sticks topped with reduced-fat cream cheese and a fruit jelly are a refreshing change for snacktime.

Strawberries
If you feel like all your kids eat are bananas and apples, try introducing vitamin C-packed fresh strawberries to their diet. For a perfect snack when you're short on time, try this vitamin- and protein-rich snack with only three ingredients. To add an extra-healthy option, choose whole wheat crepes.

Oatmeal
What kid doesn't love cookies for snacktime? Instead of buying the high-sugar, high-fat varieties from the store, bake up a batch of our low-fat Oatmeal Cookies and feel better about serving cookies and milk. The best part is you can add in whatever you want -- try raisins, cranberries, dried apricots, or nuts to boost the nutritional value and taste.

Tomatoes
Your kids will love this fruity combination of tomatoes, cantaloupe, apples, and a hint of lime. If you want to tone down the heat, use just one seeded jalapeno or none at all. Packed with lycopene from the tomato, vitamins A and C from the melon, and fiber from the apple, this healthy and delicious snack is a big winner.

~ Originally published in the March 2002 issue of Parents magazine, Updated 2010.

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