March is National Nutrition Month. The theme for 2020 is “Eat Right, Bite by Bite.” The main message is that “Good nutrition doesn’t have to be restrictive or overwhelming. Small goals and changes can have a cumulative healthful effect, and every little bit (or bite!) of nutrition is a step in the right direction.”
The following are some Smart Snacking Tips for Kids (sourced from The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics):
Snacks can play an important role in meeting kids’ nutrient needs. Choosing foods from all of the food groups will give them the energy they need between meals. It helps to plan and portion out snacks in advance. Kids will usually only need 2 or 3 snacks daily.
It is recommended that snacks (and meals) be eaten in an area without distractions. So, avoid snacking while watching TV or when using other electronic devices. Better yet, let the kids help prepare healthy snacks. Here are a few easy, tasty (and healthy) snacks to help get you started.
1. Parfait: Layer vanilla or plain low-fat yogurt with fruit and dried cereal.
2. Toast a whole-grain waffle and top with low-fat yogurt and sliced fruit or smooth nut butter.
3. Blend low-fat milk, frozen strawberries, and a banana for thirty seconds for a delicious smoothie.
4. Sandwich cut-outs: Make a sandwich on whole-grain bread. Cut out your favorite shape using a big cookie cutter. Eat the fun shape and the edges, too!
5. Mini-pizza: Toast a whole-wheat English muffin, drizzle with pizza sauce, and sprinkle with low-fat mozzarella cheese.
6. Frozen treats: Mix equal amounts of fat-free plain or flavored yogurt with 100% fruit juice, then pour into paper cups and freeze for a tasty treat.
7. Quesadilla: Sprinkle shredded cheese over a corn or whole-wheat tortilla; fold in half and microwave for twenty seconds. Top with salsa.
8. Roll-ups: Spread hummus on a tortilla. Top with a slice of turkey or ham, low-fat cheese, and lettuce. Then roll it up.
9. Stuff a whole-grain pita pocket with ricotta cheese and Granny Smith apple slices. Add a dash of cinnamon.
10. Microwave a cup of tomato or vegetable soup and enjoy with whole-grain crackers.
11. Make a mini-sandwich with tuna or egg salad on a dinner roll.
12. Microwave a small baked potato. Top with reduced-fat cheddar cheese and salsa.
13. Spread celery sticks with smooth nut butter or low-fat cream cheese. Top with raisins. Enjoy your “ants on a log.”
14. Dip slices of fruit or whole-grain graham crackers into low-fat vanilla pudding or yogurt.
15. Inside-out sandwich: Spread mustard on a slice of deli turkey. Wrap around a sesame breadstick.
16. Rocky road: Smear low-fat chocolate pudding on a whole grain graham cracker, then top with a marshmallow.
17. Sprinkle cinnamon on unsweetened applesauce and enjoy with a whole grain graham cracker for a taste similar to apple pie.
18. Make your own fruit roll-up by pureeing fruit and either baking it in the oven or by using a dehydrator.
19. Bake homemade chewy granola bars using whole-grain oats and dried fruit.
20. Whip up mini-muffins using healthy ingredients, like whole grain flours and pureed fruit.
Portion sizes for kids are smaller than adults. However, certain foods due to their size pose a choking risk, especially for very young children. These foods include: hot dogs and sausage links, meat chunks, unless finely chopped and combined, nuts, seeds, and peanut butter, raw apple and pear slices, whole grapes, dried fruit, raw vegetables, whole kernels of corn, popcorn and chips, small candies and chewing gum.
The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics offers an abundance of tip sheets and handouts at www.eatright.org/nutritiontipsheets.