Moms, do you worry about what your teens might be eating away from home? As your children grow up and spend more time away from the home, it’s important to teach them to choose snacks and drinks on their own to help them learn healthy choices early in life. Healthy habits now lend to your child keeping healthy habits for the rest of their life. Here are some tips on how to help your children choose healthier options as they start doing more things on their own. Continue reading
Do you struggle with getting your kids to eat healthy foods? It can sometimes be hard to get your children to enjoy healthy snacks; particularly fruits and vegetables. Your children want to be just like you so what your children see you eating can influence their snacking choices. Purchasing fresh, canned, or frozen fruits and vegetables ahead of time makes it easier to prepare and to have on hand healthy snacking options, which increases the likelihood of your children to snack healthy. Continue reading
Halloween is such a fun time of year, for kids and adults alike. The creative costumes, the spooky decorations, and of course the bags full of candy make Halloween a very popular holiday. But that last one, the bags full of sugary candy, also makes Halloween the start of a tricky time of year to Eat Smart that spans all the way through the New Year.
Fortunately, there are some new trends that will help families keep the fun and avoid the dietary disaster.
Healthy Tricks- Candy Swaps
There are different ways to get your kids on board, like the Switch Witch or Candy Buy Backs, but the basic idea is to go trick or treating as usual, enjoy a little bit of the candy and get rid of the rest. Because we all know that if it’s in the house, it’s going to get eaten and nobody needs mounds of candy sitting around tempting them. Offer a special gift, like a trip to a local playground for the afternoon, or a 15-minute bedtime extension “coupon,” in exchange for giving away the candy. Get creative with non-food rewards- you know best what will get your child excited.
Bonus Tip- You don’t have to give away candy to trick-or-treaters who visit you. Check out this list of fun alternatives that kids (and their parents!) will love just as much.
There are tons of ideas out there. These are a few of my favorites.
(Even more ideas from Clemson Cooperative Extension.)
How do you handle Eating Smart on Halloween in your house?
Today’s post was written by Theresa Gilson, DTR, Dietetic Intern.
Snack time can be challenging. Sometimes it is easier to grab that bag of potato chips than to search for a healthy alternative. What type of snacks does your family like to eat? How many snacks do you or your kids eat each day? What makes up a healthy snack?
Make snack time a success:
- An appropriate amount of snacks is 2-3 per day – between mealtimes, but be sure to eat the snack at least 1-2 hours before your next meal.
- For your children, it is best to offer snacks at routine times each day. It’s not a bad idea for the adults either! For example, if they eat breakfast around 7am, then a mid-morning snack could be offered at 10am and then lunch at 12pm.
- Keep it simple! Having about 2-3 food groups within each snack helps contribute to a balanced diet.
- Offer fruits and vegetables as snacks. This can help children (and adults) reach their goal of fruits and vegetables for the day.
- Limit distractions during snack times – avoid watching TV, computer, or playing while snacking. This will help you eat just enough to satisfy your hunger, instead of mindlessly munching.
- If planning a summer adventure or traveling, you can pack a few healthy snacks for each day for the whole family to enjoy. You’ll feel better about what your family is eating and can save money, too.
Healthy snacks to keep in pantry/fridge:
- Fruits: Keeping applesauce, mixed fruit, or whole fruit such as peaches, pears, bananas, or apples on hand, allows your child to have healthy options, but also gives them the opportunity to try new fruit.
- Low-Fat Dairy options: Keep a container of cottage cheese in the fridge to snack on with some fruit. It pairs nicely with pineapple. Other good dairy foods – yogurt, a glass of milk, or low-fat string cheeses.
- Hard-boiled eggs also make a great easy snack. Prepare them ahead of time on a Saturday or Sunday evening and then you will have enough for the week! Just remember moderation- aim for no more than 7 whole eggs per week per person.
- Make homemade trail mix using a variety of whole grain cereals, dried fruit, nuts, pretzels, and/or granola. Make it fun – let the kids help measure and mix!
- Keep whole grain crackers and graham crackers on hand. These are great to combine with other snack foods such as a slice of low-fat cheese or dipping in hummus or peanut butter.
- Hummus is a great source of protein because it is made out of beans. Try dipping fresh vegetables such as snap peas, carrots, or celery in hummus for a tasty snack!
- Mix plain yogurt and peanut butter to make a delicious dip that everyone will love. Dip apples, celery, or other fruit into your yogurt/peanut butter mixture.
So remember, snack time can be fun and healthy!
- Plan 2-3 snacks per day
- Aim for 2-3 food groups within each snack
- Keep it simple
Enjoy successful snacking!
For more healthy snack ideas visit: www.eatright.org/kids
How many of you do a pretty good job of eating smart at your main meals, but find things start to fall apart when hunger hits mid-afternoon or after dinner? Snacks can be a great way to up your nutrition and fill in the gaps from your main meals. However, the snack foods we reach for are not always the greatest options for our health and weight.
Recently fresh fruit has topped the list of most popular snacks in America. That’s a great change for our nation’s health. Can you guess what the 2nd and 3rd most popular snacks are? Chocolate and potato chips. So there is still more room for improvement! Try these ideas for smart snacks that are perfect on the go, at the office or after school.
- Fruit– No surprise here, fruit is nature’s fast food. Apples, bananas, oranges, grapes, etc. are all quick to grab and go. Every mom should keep a piece of fruit in her purse to fend off the hunger tantrum every kid has now and then.
- Vegetables– A little less portable than fruit, vegetables are still great snacks. If you wash, peel, and cut them ahead of time, it’s very easy for kids to fix a snack themselves when they come home hungry after school or day care. For pickier eaters, a tasty dip will make veggies more fun to eat. Try these recipes for Hummus, Creamy Dill Dip, and Low-fat Ranch Dip.
- Nuts– Nuts are also portable and filling snacks. Try to buy low/no salt nuts to keep your heart healthy. Nut butter also pairs well with fruit or veggies. Who doesn’t love bananas and apples with peanut butter? Bugs on a Log are a classic pairing of peanut butter, celery and raisins, with a twist of kid-appeal in their fun name. (If peanut or tree nut allergies are an issue for your family, you can find sunflower seed or soynut butters to use instead.)
- String Cheese– A timeless and healthy option kids love to eat. Make sure you’re buying reduced fat (part skim) varieties.
- Air popped popcorn– A staple in my snack arsenal, popcorn is a whole grain. When you buy the plain kernels instead of the microwave bags, it’s extremely cheap, too. If you don’t have an air popper, you can cook it in the microwave (Pour kernels into a microwave-safe bowl, top with a microwave-safe lid or plate and heat for about 5 minutes or until the popping slows down) or on the stovetop (Drizzle a little oil in the bottom of a pot, add popcorn kernels, cover and heat. Once it starts popping, shake the pot to keep it from burning on the bottom until the popping slows down). A spritz of non-stick cooking spray and your favorite seasonings will make the best bowl of popcorn you’ve ever had in less than 5 minutes.
- Whole Grain Crackers– There is a wide variety of whole grain cracker options these days. Crackers are a blank canvas that you can top with different [healthy] ingredients to suit your cravings. Cheese crackers, peanut butter crackers, cream cheese and cucumber crackers. The possibilities are endless.
You can find more snack recipes from the Family Nutrition Program here.
What are some of your family’s favorite snacks? How can you tweak them to snack smarter?