Kids don’t just get hungry; they get hangry. In that state, they’re likely to wolf down whatever snacks are in sight, especially if they’re unsupervised because mama’s still bringing home the turkey bacon. That’s why it’s important to provide them with healthy snacks that will satiate them until dinner’s on the table without ruining their appetites.
Whenever possible, opt for organic snacks. A 2012 Stanford study showed it’s possible developing brains may be more susceptible to the affects of the pesticides we use to treat nonorganic crops. While the jury’s still out on the full impact, opting for organic is a small choice parents can make to contribute to their kid’s lifelong health and development.
And while you shouldn’t cut it out completely, remember to be mindful of sugar. Kat Scheurer of Retroactive Health in Fort Worth, Texas, is a nutritionist and registered dietitian who works with children, teens and adolescents. She tells SheKnows, “There are foods with added sugar and there are foods that have natural sugars. Foods that contain natural sugars are those such as fruits, starchy vegetables, dried fruit and dairy items such as milk and yogurt. Just as with any food, sugar should be had in moderation and be part of a balanced meal or snack.” She’s not entirely against sugar, though. She says it’s important to have balance. If your kid wants to have something sugary, such as fruit (or even *gasp!* candy), you should pair it with something that has protein, like nuts or cheese.
That means stocking your kitchen with easy snacks they can grab quickly. Scheurer points out that it’s helpful to have them preprepared so they’ll opt for them instead of just grabbing something that’s easy. And Sarah Petty, an integrative clinical nutritionist in Fort Worth, Texas, tells SheKnows that having the kids help you make snacks, perhaps over the weekend, will make them more apt to eat them.
To make it easy for them, keep it simple. Focus on snack pairings — just two things that work together to make a snack — no need to create elaborate bento boxes you’ll give up on after a month. Need some ideas? These seven snack pairings for kids will energize them without spoiling their dinner.
The high-fiber snack pairing: Air-popped popcorn + almonds
Popcorn gets a bad rap, but if prepared the right way, it’s a whole-grain food loaded with 15 grams of fiber per 3.5-ounce serving, making popcorn one of the best sources of fiber. Just skip the bagged version, which is packaged with all the unhealthy stuff responsible for popcorn’s less-than-stellar reputation. Instead, air-pop it and serve it with a handful of almonds, which also have a lot of fiber and add protein to the mix.
Scheurer says any protein-fiber duo is a powerhouse, so don’t forget those almonds. “[Fiber and protein] are pretty powerful on their own and even mightier when they are together. Both fiber and protein provide satiation between meals and can prevent overeating at meals as well. They also help with a slower release of glucose from carbohydrates — or sugar — into the bloodstream. For example, if you were to eat crackers by themselves, you might be hungry again in 30 minutes. If you add hummus or peanut butter or an apple along with the crackers, you are likely to be satiated for an hour or so.”
The lower-sugar snack pairing: Low-sugar granola + Juicy Juice Fruitifuls® Organic Fruit Punch
There’s no sugar-coating it: Kids love a sweet snack. When recommending sweet sustenance, Petty generally prefers opting for natural sugars. “Sugar that naturally occurs in food — fruit, starchy veggies, etc. — is OK for snacks, but save added sugar for desserts.”
So save the cookies for after dinner and opt instead for a low-sugar, whole-grain granola with Juicy Juice Fruitifuls® Organic Fruit Punch (which offers 45 percent less sugar than the leading juice).
Granola is packed with filling fiber, loads of protein and other nutrients, and Juicy Juice Fruitifuls® Organic, is not only USDA-certified organic, it contains a half cup of fruit per 8 fl. oz serving and has the deliciously sweet fruit flavor kids crave. Kids will fill up enough to make it to dinner thanks to the granola, and the Juicy Juice Fruitifuls® Organic will satisfy their sweet tooth.
The organic snack pairing: Organic vanilla Greek yogurt + organic cantaloupe
Greek yogurt is a source of calcium, protein, potassium, zinc and vitamins B6 and B12 in addition to being crammed with probiotics for good gut health (vital for kiddos with digestive issues).
And cantaloupe is a stealth superfood jam-packed with beta carotene, vitamin C, folate, fiber, potassium and other vitamins and minerals. Boasting 1.5 grams of protein per cup, it’s an energy-boosting snack for kids to reward themselves with once their chores are done.
The vitamin-rich snack pairing: Red bell pepper strips + dill dip
If they’re going to snack anyway, you may as well sneak in some vitamins and minerals, right? Bell peppers will boost your kiddos’ vitamin C in addition to other antioxidants. Plus, pound for pound, red bell peppers are an excellent source of fiber, says WebMD. That means you can give them enough to tide them over without worrying about a lot of unwanted extras.
Let them dip strips of sweet red bell pepper in a dill dip made with lower-calorie Greek yogurt instead of fatty mayo or sour cream, and you’ve got a quick and easy snack that’s easy to munch on while they’re playing video games.
The snack pairing with a full serving of fruit: An apple + a tablespoon of peanut butter
According to Health.gov, younger children need two full servings of fruit per day and older kids and teens need three, so incorporating it into their snack is an easy way to get in a serving. Apples are a popular choice for kids of all ages, and they’re high in fiber, vitamin C and antioxidants. Adding a little peanut butter for protein, when combined with the apple’s fiber, will help keep them full longer. But not all nut butters are created equal. Opt for natural nut butters without added sugar or fats — peanut butter is naturally fatty, and added fats may bring trans fats to the table.
The high-protein snack pairing: Whole-wheat pretzels + hummus
We already know protein is a helpful addition to your kid’s snacking routine, but it’s important to get as much protein as you can from plant-based sources, such as beans, legumes and whole grains. Hummus, a spread made of chickpeas, is popular among kids and adults alike. When your kids are craving a salty snack, some whole-wheat pretzels as a dipper will add even more protein, plus hunger-busting fiber.
The calcium-rich snack pairing: Part-skim ricotta cheese + strawberries
According to a 2006 study published in the journal Pediatrics, a well-rounded diet including low-fat dairy, fruits and veggies is important for children’s bone health. And the USDA’s FoodData Central says each ounce of ricotta has 77 milligrams of calcium. Plus, it’s packed with protein and has other vital nutrients, like folate, phosphorous, potassium and vitamins A and D. And strawberries are a great source of antioxidants.
This post was created by SheKnows for Juicy Juice Fruitifuls® Organic.