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How to Make Healthier Kids' Snacks

written by: Jennifer Gonzalez • edited by: Diana Cooper • updated: 6/12/2011

Instilling good eating habits in our children is essential. Helping your child get into the habit of healthy snacking is a routine that they are likely to carry with them into their adult years. With obesity on the rise, eating the right foods is more important now than ever.

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    4538722294 0004e02962 t Supplying our children with a variety of good food choices has become more important than ever; especially with the obesity rate increasing in numbers every day. Childhood obesity can lead to serious health issues that are including but not limited to diabetes, high blood pressure and high cholesterol. A child that has become overweight is also at risk for developing bone and joint problems that are triggered by the added stress and pressure of supporting extra weight. Being overweight can make it difficult for the child to participate in necessary regular physical activities, due to lack of oxygen.

    As parents, we want to do whatever we can to keep our children healthy, although many of us simply do not know where to begin. We can take the first step by learning how to make healthy snacks for kids. With snack food executives gearing their advertising to catch the eyes of small children, helping them to make wise choices may seem like an impossible task; but it is easier than you think. Learning to make healthier, homemade varieties of their favorite store bought snacks, having them join in the preparation process, finding creative ways to introduce a new food, or dressing up raw veggies are all creative ways to peak a child’s interest in the food they are eating, and will have them coming back and asking for more.

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    Homemade Cracker Sandwiches

    Kids love cracker sandwiches, but the pre-made brands that you get from the grocery store are loaded in fat, calories and sodium. None of which are good for growing children. Making your own cracker sandwiches at home gives your child a healthy alternative to a favorite snack, and gives them more options to choose from rather than the pre-packaged bologna. Making your own will keep the kids interested, and prevent them from food boredom. To make your own cracker sandwiches, use your favorite type of cracker such as Ritz or saltines, low fat and low-sodium deli meat and your favorite cheese. Cut the meat and cheese into bite size slices, and layer over the cracker to make a sandwich. With this snack, you are fully in control over the nutritional content based on your choices.

    Nutritional information for a cracker sandwich made with original Ritz crackers, turkey deli meat and cheddar cheese:

    • Ritz crackers: A serving size of five Ritz crackers provides you with 80 calories, 4.5 grams of fat, 1 gram of saturated fat, 125 mg of sodium and 10 grams of carbs.
    • Low-sodium turkey breast deli meat: A serving size of turkey deli meat provides you about two slices, 50 calories, 1 gram of fat, 0.1 gram of saturated fat, 350 mg of sodium and 1 gram of carbs.
    • Low fat cheddar cheese: A serving size of one slice of low fat cheddar cheese provides you with 48 calories, 2 grams of fat, 171 mg of sodium and 0.5 gram of carbs.

    Nutritional information is subject to change based on the crackers, meats and cheeses used.

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    Smoothies

    Homemade smoothies provide your child with a daily serving of fruit and dairy, and are a refreshing snack on a hot summer’s day. Smoothies are a good choice for fussy eaters since there are many fruit options to choose. You can make fruit smoothies with fresh fruit, however frozen fruit is the fruit of choice since it provides the smoothie with the proper texture, not to mention it is available year round, and is easier on the wallet. To make smoothies, simply place all ingredients (based on your smoothie recipe of choice) into a blender, and blend until smooth.

    Ingredients for a classic strawberry-banana fruit smoothie are:

    • Frozen strawberries
    • Banana
    • Milk
    • Strawberry yogurt

    Nutritional information for regular serving sizes:

    • 1 cup of strawberries: 48 calories, 0.5 gram of fat
    • 1 Medium banana: 105 calories, 0.4 gram of fat
    • 1 cup of 1% milk: 102 calories, 2 grams of fat
    • 6 oz strawberry yogurt: 140 calories, zero fat
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    Tortilla Chips and Hummus

    Hummus has become a rising star in the world of healthy eating. What makes this choice even better is that children love to dip their food in sauces! Providing your child with tortilla chips instead of potato chips will satisfy their taste for a crunchy snack, while cutting fat and calories. Hummus (made from chickpeas) provides your child with a healthy alternative to chip dips. You can make hummus by placing chickpeas, olive oil, lemon juice, garlic, salt, pepper and water into a blender and blending until smooth. Allowing the prepared hummus to sit in the refrigerator for a few hours will help the flavors blend, and complement each other nicely.

    Nutritional information for original hummus:

    • A serving size of 1 tablespoon provides: 27 calories, 1.3 grams of fat, 36 mg of sodium
    • A serving size of 1 oz of tortilla chips provides: 137 calories, 7 grams of fat, 118 mg sodium
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    References

    Serious About Snacks; http://familyfun.go.com/recipes/cooking-with-kids/serious-about-snacks-714779/

    Healthy Snacks for Kids; http://allrecipes.com/HowTo/healthy-snacks-for-kids/Detail.aspx

    Kids Health; http://kidshealth.org/parent/general/body/overweight_obesity.html#

    Teens Health; http://kidshealth.org/teen/food_fitness/dieting/obesity.html

    Nutrition Information; http://nutritiondata.self.com/

    "Fruit Smoothie" Picture c/o Jose Carlos Cortizo Perez at http://creativecommons.org/