Summer is here, the kids are out of school, and most of you have planned out your summer fun—vacations, swimming lessons, sports, library story time, music lessons, and maybe vacation bible school. But wait!! Have you thought about what your kids are going to eat this summer?
As most of my friends can tell you, I am hungry all the time and very particular about what I eat and what my boys eat. As kids move into junior high and high school their appetites increase dramatically and some days it seems like they want to eat every two hours!! This is very normal, but can be a big problem if they are eating the wrong things. My solution is to plan ahead. Just as you are intentional about what activities you put your kids in, please be intentional about what food you provide them for snacking.
The following are some easy ways to keep your family snacks healthy.
- When you get home from the grocery store, clean and place your fruit and veggies in individual snack bags. Place the baggies in a bin marked “SNACKS” in a location everyone can see in the fridge.
- Put individual containers of hummus, ranch, tzatziki sauce, and salsa in the bin. Kids are more likely to grab an individual bag of veggies and individual container of hummus or salsa than to prepare their own snack—sounds crazy but it’s true.
- Pickles are also a great healthy snack-put them in individual bags in the bin (again, sounds crazy since the jar is right there, but everyone loves to grab a bag and sit down and snack-hate to say it but teens can be kind of lazy!!)
- Yogurt makes a wonderful snack if it is healthy. Recent studies are showing that full fat dairy is the way to go (I know, just when we think we know something things change—skim milk is good and eggs are bad, but wait , eggs are now good and whole milk is better than skim, yikes!). I now am convinced by recent studies that full fat dairy in small to moderate quantities has higher quality fats that are beneficial to our hearts and brains and actually may help prevent diabetes. In addition, the fat keeps us satiated longer-meaning keeps us full longer. However, you want to eat healthy fats like what is in full fat dairy, avocado, and nuts, not what’s in fried foods. Anyway, make sure the yogurt is whole milk yogurt or soy or coconut milk yogurt and that it does not have food dyes and preservatives.
- Put some full fat string cheese and full fat sliced cheese in the Snack Bin in the fridge.
- Make some “ants on a log” by cleaning and cutting celery, filling with peanut butter and putting raisins on top. Cream cheese is also really yummy in celery-full fat of course.
- Keep individual containers of milk in the snack bin. You can do mostly plain milk but strawberry, chocolate or vanilla milks make a nice treat.
- Fill individual BPA free water bottles and keep them in the fridge at all times. I know it sounds crazy, but kids will drink more water if it is already ready for them and they can just reach in, grab and drink. Avoid keeping sodas and juice in your house. There is too much sugar in the juice (even if it is 100% juice) and no fiber in the juice thus increasing the glycemic index which can lead to obesity and diabetes. Soda is horrible for your teeth and kidneys. If it is a birthday party or special occasion then make an exception but only once in a while.
- Create a snack bin in your pantry and fill it with individual servings of the following: Skinny Pop Popcorn, nuts, dried fruit, Kind bars, Larabar bars, tortilla chips, gluten-free and regular whole grain crackers, edamame crackers, yogurt-covered raisins, and apple chips. Make sure you put everything in individual single serving containers.
I hope this has been helpful. Be sure to check out this week’s recipe for an extra special snack!
Karen Prentice, D.O., F.A.A.P.