Now I don’t know about your kids, but my kids seem to have snacking down pat. Actually I think they are a little too good at it. Miss 3 seems to constantly be looking for food and the most common words uttered by this little human is “I’mmmmmmmm hhhuuunnnnngggrrrryyyyyyyy”. And she has even outsmarted my clever dietitian mummy “you’re not really hungry” tricks like “mum I’m hungry” “are you sure Miss 3” “yes I’m really really hungry” “okay well there’s some broccoli (or some other equally random food I can think of) in the fridge you can have that” “okay I’ll get a bowl!”. She doesn’t care, as long as it’s food, and it’s snacks, she’s keen. So you can imagine that I am continually looking for healthy snacks that I can have around for her (and her little copy cat) to eat.
One of the presentations of some research I sat in on while at the DAA conference this month was a session on the snacking habits of Australian kids. Our kids are actually pretty good at snacking. Not surprisingly to a mum with a 3 year old snacker, 98% of kids surveyed had regular snacks. They also worked out that 28% of total energy came from snacks and about 19-35% of nutrients came from snacks. Snacking is important!!
What I was really surprised about though, were the most common snack choices had by the kids. The most common morning snacks they found were water, apples and bananas and for afternoon snacks water, apples and milk. This is great and to a dietitian this is promising! To a mum though,especially mums of kids anywhere between 2 and 5 this seems unrealistic. Apples and bananas are great but just those two ideas aren’t really going to cut it!!
So I thought I’d give you a bit of a run down of our favourite morning and afternoon snacks. I’ve tried to make most of them portable friendly, for those ever important play date snacks. In a perfect world, the snacks would all be unprocessed and natural. In my working mum world where time is of the essence, there is a mix of both:
-fruit. Bit of a no brainer. Most kids like at least some fruit. Present it in different ways to keep them interested. Dipping fruit in yoghurt is always a winner in our house.
-cheese cubes/sticks, cucumber and carrot (for older kids). Mini dips to dip these in make it more fun, try tsadziki or hummus for the healthiest varieties, or make your own cream cheese and avocado dip (literally just mix the two with a stick mixer or blender).
-popcorn or puffed corn. Puffed corn is a good alternative for younger kids because there is no hard kernel in it and they tend to disintegrate in the mouth easier. Still watch your younger ones with these regardless.
-dried fruit. This is a great one if your little one has troubles with hard poo! Have a variety, not just sultanas, include apricots, pears, dates, and apples.
-snack sandwich. I’ll often make a sandwich to cut up into smaller pieces than usual for a savoury element of a snack.
-for older kids, nuts, raw, unsalted, any kinds.
-Uncle Toby’s fruity bites – these little babies have some good minerals (iron, vitamin c, niacin, B1 and riboflavin) in them, they are low in fat and are just under the sugar requirements.
-cheerios – they have added calcium, iron, zinc B vitamins and folate, and are low in fat and sugar.
-rice wheels or sunrice mini bites- these are a much loved savoury snack by the girls. They are a good source of wholegrains but they are high in salt, so I limit the frequency I give these ones. For a lower salt alternative I will sometimes buy the multigrain corn thins and break them up into smaller pieces.
I hope that gives you some ideas for any incessant snackers out there that you have, just remember with kids it’s all about variety, mix up the snacks and keep them interested.
The Dietitian Mummy