When kids run in the door after a day at school, a snack usually is the first thing on their minds. Help your child be snack-wise with healthy food choices from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s MyPyramid.
Snacks can be an important part of a child’s daily food intake, according to LSU AgCenter nutritionist Dr. Beth Reames. She explains that because children are growing and active, they may need to eat more than three times a day. Snacks help to furnish the necessary food and offer a wonderful chance to give children new and different foods.
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 such as peanut butter; cheese spread or slices; whole grain crackers; small bagels and pita bread; nonsugar-coated, ready-to-eat cereals; and vegetables and fruits. Keep these foods on hand for the quick assembly of after-school snacks.
Reames offers several snack ideas based on MyPyramid.
Grains. Grain foods are the foundation for healthful eating. They supply carbohydrates, some B-vitamins, iron and fiber. Snack suggestions include: cracker stacks, which are 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, which are ready-to-eat cereals mixed with raisins or other dried fruit; and graham crackers.
Vegetables. Veggies supply beta-carotene, folate, vitamin C, carbohydrates, fiber and water. Snacks include: vegetable sticks such as carrot, celery, green pepper, cucumber or squash; celery stuffed with peanut butter; cherry tomatoes cut in small pieces; whole grape tomatoes; and steamed broccoli, green beans or sugar peas served with low-fat dip.
Fruits. Fruits provide beta-carotene, folate, vitamin C, carbohydrates, fiber and water. Snack ideas are: apple ring sandwiches, which are apple rings topped with peanut butter; orange or tangerine sections; chunks of banana or pineapple; canned fruits packed in juice; and juice box of 100 percent juice.
Milk. Milk is a rich source of calcium for strong bones and teeth. Snack options 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 possibilities are hard-cooked eggs (wedges or slices), peanut butter spread thin on crackers and bean dip spread thin on crackers.
Reames also offers snacking strategies to keep children healthy and well nourished. She says to encourage children to plan simple snacks such as crackers and cheese or dried fruit and bite-sized whole-wheat crackers packed in a bag. Also, she advises to 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.
When serving she says to portion out snacks or offer a single-serve package to keep serving sizes in line with children’s needs. Finally, allow children to select a new-to-them vegetable or fruit. Sample it together.
Other combination snack ideas include: a bean burrito; a cheese quesadilla with salsa and lettuce; a yogurt-and-fruit smoothie with graham crackers; a bowl of whole-grain cereal topped with sliced fruit and milk; a small salad with sliced deli meat, tuna or beans; and fruit, cheese and whole-grain crackers.
For additional information about healthful eating, contact the parish LSU AgCenter Extension agent. For related family and back-to-school topics, click on the Family and Home link on the LSU AgCenter homepage, at www.lsuagcenter.com.
Source: Beth Reames (225) 578-3929, or firstname.lastname@example.org