Elizabeth S. Reames, Claesgens, Mark A. | 7/21/2007 12:49:16 AM
Don't let your child's after-school snack attack catch you off guard. Keep plenty of healthy food choices from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s MyPyramid on hand to satisfy ravenous appetites.
Snacks can be an important part of a child’s daily diet, according to LSU AgCenter nutritionist Dr. Beth Reames. Children may need to eat more than three times a day because they are growing and active.
"Snacks help furnish the necessary food children need, and they offer parents a wonderful chance to give children new and different foods," Reames said.
Try to incorporate whole grains, fruits, vegetables or beans into your kids’ snack-eating plan. To be prepared for snack attacks, stock up on simple foods. Peanut butter, whole-grain crackers, vegetables and fruits are some options. Other simple foods include cheese spread or slices, small bagels, pita bread and nonsugar-coated, ready-to-eat cereals. Keep these on hand for quick assembly of after-school snacks.
Reames groups snack ideas from MyPyramid to eat at home or on the go:
Grain foods are the foundation for healthful eating. They supply carbohydrates, some B-vitamins, iron and fiber. Options include cracker stacks - wheat crackers topped with low-fat cheese slices; ready-to-eat cereals; flavored mini rice cakes or popcorn cakes; breads, especially whole-wheat, multi-grain or rye; ginger snaps or fig bars; popcorn; trail mix (ready-to-eat cereals mixed with raisins or other dried fruit); and graham crackers.
Veggies supply beta-carotene, folate, vitamin C, carbohydrates, fiber and water. Choices include vegetable sticks such as carrot, celery, green pepper, cucumber or squash; celery stuffed with peanut butter; cherry tomatoes cut in small pieces; and steamed broccoli, green beans or sugar peas with low-fat dip.
Fruits provide beta-carotene, folate, vitamin C, carbohydrates, fiber and water. Snacks include apple ring sandwiches (peanut butter on apple rings), orange or tangerine sections, chunks of banana or pineapple, canned fruits packed in juice and a juice box of 100 percent juice.
Milk is a rich source of calcium for strong bones and teeth. Possibilities include milk shakes made with fruit and milk, cheese slices with thin apple wedges, and string cheese or individually wrapped slices.
Meat and Beans
Snack choices include hard-cooked eggs (wedges or slices), peanut butter spread thin on crackers and bean dip spread thin on crackers.
Follow these snacking strategies to keep children healthy and well nourished.
– Encourage children to plan simple snacks such as crackers and cheese or dried fruit and bite-sized whole-wheat crackers packed in a bag.
– Keep cleaned, raw vegetables such as celery and carrot sticks or red pepper strips in the refrigerator, along with some low-fat ranch dressing for a tasty dip.
– Portion out snacks or offer a single-serve package to keep serving sizes in line with children’s needs.
– Allow children to select a new-to-them vegetable or fruit. Sample it together.
Combination snack ideas include a bean burrito, a cheese quesadilla with salsa and lettuce, a yogurt-and-fruit smoothie with graham crackers or a bowl of whole-grain cereal topped with sliced fruit and milk. Other combinations include a small salad with sliced deli meat, tuna or beans and fruit or cheese on whole-grain crackers.
For related nutrition topics, click on the Food and Health link on the LSU AgCenter homepage at www.lsuagcenter.com. For local information and educational programs, contact an extension agent in your parish LSU AgCenter office.