With the wide selection of sugar filled items in the stores today children want nothing to do with eating healthy. Unfortunately, childhood obesity is common these days. In fact, a recent National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey found that 16.3 percent of children and adolescents 2-to-19 years old were at or above the 95th percentile for Body Mass Index (BMI), in other words, obese.
Below are some of the most delicious and nutritious snacks kids won't be able to resist!
1. Take a Dip:Kids love anything that requires their hands to be moving. Dipping anything is always a favorite. For a salty snack: Carrots, celery sticks, cucumber pepper slices, cherry tomatoes will disappear in an instant if there's a tub of dip to go with them. Prepare your own ranch dip by using low-fat plain yogurt and ranch seasonings. You can also buy nutritious hummus, bean dip or salsa.
2. Pizza:No kid can resist pizza! Pizza doesn't have to be encumbered with fat--it can be a perfectly healthy snack. For the crust use an English muffin, a whole pita or a tortilla. Let them smear on a bit of bottled tomato sauce, sprinkle it lightly with low fat mozzarella cheese, and top with chopped vegetables, and a little bit of lean meat. Heat for a few minutes in the toaster oven or microwave.
3. Ants on a LogHere is a creative twist on the classic favorite. Let your children shmear peanut butter on celery sticks, sound boring? Children love the thought of natures little creatures, use raisins or craisins to reinvent "ants crawling on a log"
4. Trail Mix:Kids love the sweet and crunchy mix of ingredients. Mix whole wheat pretzels, wheat chex, dried craisins or raisins, chocolate chips and nuts for a high-energy, high-protein snack.
5. SundaesKids love cereal because it's bite-sized and crunchy, and if you choose the brands with the most amount of fiber and whole grains, they'll be getting a lot more nutrition then they'll ever realize. A high-fiber cereal means that a lot of nutrients are still intact and have not been stripped away during processing. Most cereals are also fortified with B-vitamins, important for a healthy immune system. Calcium is essential in children because it makes teeth and bones strong. Incorporating calcium now, during the growing years, is important for building bones. Yogurt also contains natural, beneficial bacteria that are important for normal gut functioning and integrity. This helps to keep away the tummy aches. You can find yogurts in a wide array of kid-friendly colors and flavors.
6. Smoothies:Especially on hot days, kids love anything ice cold. Let them choose their favorite fruits and low- fat yogurts. Combine your picks with skim milk and ice and your kids will love this after a long day of fun in the sun. One of my kids' favorite is a banana peanut butter smoothie. The recipe is very simple take one banana, one tablespoon of peanut butter; add a 6 ounce container of low-fat vanilla yogurt, half a cup of skim milk and one cup of ice, blend all together until desired consistency. It's as easy as ABC!
7. Low- Fat string cheese or cheddar cheese and an apple or pear: Kids love the color and the feel of this food, but there's a lot for you to love about it too. Cheese provides both calcium and protein, which is vital to their bone and muscle growth, as well as skin and tissue repair. Low-Fat string cheese is a convenient and healthy snack, especially for moms constantly on the go. Although protein will provide you with needed energy the addition of a fresh crisp apple or juicy pear will provide you with a wonderful and filling snack of fiber and protein.
8. Popcorn:Instead of junk food like chips and pretzels load up on popcorn instead. By replacing popcorn instead of junk food it will eliminate excess calories. Microwave popcorn such as Orville Redenbacher's Smart Pop mini bags or Jolly Time Healthy Pop minis are about 100 calories for the entire bag, 2 grams of fat and 5 grams of fiber. That is a savings of almost 400 calories from getting a small bag of buttered popcorn. Popcorn contains an amino acid known as serotonin which has been said to boost feelings of happiness and calmness so pop on in the microwave, for those times your feeling blue. Let your child decide how to flavor their own popcorn. Make kettle corn by using cinnamon and sugar or some butter spray.
9. Baked Potato Fries:French fries are one of the most beloved foods in America. However, a typical serving of French fries which usually takes a bath in vegetable oil can contain about 600 calories. Your healthiest bet would be to spray Pam-calorie free non- stick cooking spray on a roasting pan. Slice your potatoes and add salt and pepper and any seasonings you life. Leave the skins on because they provide all the essential nutrients like, potassium, vitamin C, fiber and even protein. The only problem is that many people often prepare potatoes in unhealthy ways. For a metabolism kick and a taste kids will love try making spicy fries with a dash of cayenne pepper, garlic and onion powder.
10. Popsicles:Kids love anything resembling ice cream. In a blender combine frozen berries like, blueberries,strawberries,raspberries or blackberries with a non-fat yogurt for a high fiber and calcium rich popsicle your kids will love to the last lick.
Tanya Zuckerbrot, MS, RD is a nutritionist and founder of
. She is also the creator of The F-Factor DietaC/, an innovative nutritional program she has used for more than ten years to provide hundreds of her clients with all the tools they need to achieve easy weight loss and maintenance, improved health and well-being. For more information log onto
Tanya Zuckerbrot MS, RD, is a Registered Dietitian in New York City and the author of two bestselling diet books: The F-Factor Diet and The Miracle Carb Diet: Make Calories and Fat Disappear – with Fiber.