Eating Well With Kim: Snacks: The Tried and True and the New

By: Kim Beavers Email
By: Kim Beavers Email

Seasons come, and seasons go. My seasons, as well most moms', revolve around the school year, AND it’s that time again for back-to-school thoughts, feelings and foods.

Actually, the packing and snacking of kids -- regardless of season -- does not change that much, and the guidelines remain the same. Aim for two to three food groups per snack. The change of seasons or school schedules is a great time to revive your food choices and recommitting to health snacks and meals.

Fruit

Fresh Fruit:
Fresh fruit, of course, is the best portable snack I can find. Many fresh fruits are rinse and eat or peel and eat (i.e. convenient): apples, bananas, oranges, grapes, pears, peaches, plums and berries.

Have you tried baby red bananas? Give them a shot to add something different to your day or your child’s lunch. They are single serving, different and delicious. They are ripe when they give a purplish hue.

Cut and Eat:
Watermelon, cantaloupe and other melons take a bit more prep work, but once cut, yield plenty of fruit for two or more days.

Pre-cut Options:

  • Mom’s tip: Pick up one type of pre-cut produce a week. This will help you on those days that don’t go as planned, yet still give you a healthy grab-and-go snack to pack.
  • I tend to go with the pre-sliced apples. They hold up well, and if we don’t eat them as snacks, we toss them into salads later in the week.

What's New?

The pre-packed snack packs that include fruit and vegetables and cheese. The one we like contains carrots, celery, cheese cubes and apple slices.

I love them because they combine the different food groups and include vegetables. Fruit is such an easy snack, but vegetables get neglected a bit.

Snacks That Seem Healthy But Really Are Not:

Here are a few new foods on the market and why you should consider them or not.

  • Vegetable Sticks: Some of these are healthier than others, however, most of them compare to baked potato chips nutritionally. Some will have a few added nutrients due to the vegetable puree or vegetables, but most are still made from potato starch. I consider them a good “chip” choice but not a “vegetable” choice. For a great veggie chip recipe, try kale chips.

  • Fruit Roll-ups, Chews, etc.: Any time fruit or vegetable is used in the title, a food product can give the illusion of being healthy. Many of these products have added sugar and artificial colors -- not healthy foods.

    Natural fruit leathers are better choices, and of course, you can make your own homemade fruit leathers, which are also good choices and can be a fun project to do with the kids.

  • Brick Pack Milks: I love portable milk for kids especially because many of our youngsters are not getting enough calcium and their bone health is at risk. There are many varieties of plain, vanilla and chocolate milk.

    Naturally, plain milk is the best choice here (reduced fat). However, sometimes children will only drink flavored milk. I have a child who only drinks chocolate milk, but I give it to him because the calcium is more important than the reduction in sugar.

    When looking for prepared chocolate milk, look for the lowest sugar variety. Recently, I have been able to find TruMoo chocolate and vanilla milk routinely (YAY). TruMoo is a reduced sugar flavored milk with 6g added sugar vs. ~ 10 from other brands.


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