There’s nothing wrong with snacks, but trying to avoid snacks high in sugar and lacking in nutritional value can be tough. A bag of chips, fruit snacks, or cookies can easily become go-to options. But with a little advanced planning, snack time can be both healthy and enjoyable for kids.
“Snack time is a great opportunity to fill in the nutritional gaps in your child’s diet,” says Mindy Probst, a registered dietitian at Utah Valley Hospital. “Focus on foods they might not get enough of at mealtime.”
For some kids, nutritional gaps may include fruits, veggies, and protein. Thankfully, these all make wonderful snacks! “Fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and dairy are great options,” said Probst. “Combining a high fiber carbohydrate with protein is a great way to provide lasting energy and help your child stay satisfied between meals and snacks.”
The challenge, of course, is finding snack options your kids will eat. Don’t worry, we’ve got you covered with these healthy summer snacks:
- Frozen banana – Dip a peeled banana in low-fat vanilla or strawberry yogurt, roll in crushed cereal, and freeze. It’s a great treat to cool down the kids after playing hard in the sun, and is as easy and portable as a Popsicle.
- Peanut butter and apple slices – Apple slices are bite-sized, crisp and refreshing. Plus, they are familiar to most kids. Even younger kids can learn to spread peanut butter over the apple slices. Alternately, a spoonful of peanut butter in a bowl or cup makes for easy dipping.
- Fruity waffle cone – It’s a healthier take on an ice cream cone. Place cut-up fruit (strawberries, raspberries, bananas, etc.) inside a waffle cone, and top with low-fat yogurt. It’s filling and fresh, and the waffle cone adds a fun crunch. Plus, it’s easy to take out on the back porch and enjoy outside.
- Homemade, kid-friendly trail mix – Take a trip to your local bulk foods aisle and stock up on dried fruit, nuts, whole-grain pretzels and dry cereal. Mix these in a bag and you have a great on-the-go snack. The important thing is finding fruits and nuts your kids like. Raisins, cranberries and apples are all dried fruits that are kid-friendly. Peanuts are often good starter nuts, though cashews and almonds are also good picks.
- Fruit kabob – Make snack time fun with a fresh fruit kabob. Alternate bite-sized pieces of pineapple, strawberry, grapes and oranges. It’s colorful and a fun activity for the kids to make before eating.
- Celery with peanut butter – It’s an oldie, but a goodie. The crunch of celery is perfect with the creaminess of the peanut butter. Make this snack even more kid friendly by topping it with dried cranberries. Now it’s a take on PB&J.
- String cheese with pear slices – String cheese is a snack favorite, but combining it with pear slices adds a sweet element and makes a powerful fruit/veggie combo.
Healthy snacking doesn’t have to be difficult. Here are a few basic guidelines to keep in mind:
- Let your kids choose healthy food options they like to eat (snack time should be fun, not a fight).
- Keep things bite-sized or cut in fun shapes.
- Portability is important. Kids are on the go, so their snacks should be able to go with them.
- Minimize prep time. If you’re competing with a store-bought bagged snack, make sure your healthy snacks are pre-sliced, and quick and easy to grab.
- Have set snack times. This breaks up the long spaces between meals, and helps prevent mindless eating.
Make healthy snacking an important part of your kids’ summer to keep them refreshed and active as they have fun in the sun.
LEARN MORE: Get more healthy snack tips
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