A popular idiom, regarding children, says that they have a hollow leg. This references the high caloric and nutrient needs that the growing child requires to stay healthy. Consequently, parents may find it easier to purchase prepackaged snacks which are “child-friendly” and fast to prepare. Although these foods come in packages implicating them as healthy food options, they are oftentimes lacking in nutrition and full of empty calories. Instead, parents can turn to healthy, easy to prepare, wholesome snacks to provide a full spectrum of vitamins and minerals.
Locating nutrient packed fruit should be a simple task. There are a variety of options in the produce aisles of grocery stores or markets that are simple to prepare and are staples in numerous kitchens. Amongst the highly nutritious fruits available; grapes, cantaloupe, plums, citrus fruits, apricots, and watermelons are typically child-friendly. A full range of vitamins and minerals, including calcium, iron, zinc, and folic acid are available within fruits. Remember that melons and fruits with high water contents will nourish and hydrate a child, which allows them to feel satiated for longer periods of time.
For a low sugar and nutrient packed fruit option, parents should consider berries. These tiny fruits provide large quantities of anti-oxidants, vitamins C and K, fiber, folic acid, and potassium. Ideal for the hands of children, berries are delicious in their raw form or cook them with foods such as pancakes.
Held in high regard for their incredible nutrient density, vegetables are the healthiest options available. Nutritious and child-friendly options include carrots, butternut and acorn squash, colorful tomatoes and bell peppers, broccoli, and cauliflower. While particular vegetables are accessible year round, parents will notice that vegetables such as squash disappear from the produce aisle as the seasons rotate. This is an excellent reason to introduce children to a diverse selection of vegetables.
Dark and leafy greens contain the highest nutrient density of any vegetable available. A wide spectrum of nutrients are available in these greens, ranging from vitamins A, C, and K to iron, folic acid, and calcium. Leafy greens can be baked with olive oil and seasoning at a low temperature to create “chips”. Blending a handful of greens with a Greek yogurt base or hummus forms a pleasant-tasting alternative to raw greens.
Eating these delicious foods is enjoyable and nutritious with the addition of dips. Consider full fat yogurts, hummus, and nut butters as a healthy option for snacking. In order to absorb fat-soluble nutrients the body requires these lipids; additionally they may contribute to satiation. A variety of flavors exist due to a growing artisan nut butter industry. Surprised customers may discover that peanuts are no longer the standard in nut butter as artisan nut butters made from almonds, cashews, hazelnuts, and even macadamia nuts are making their way to store shelves. They can also be naturally flavored with additions such as cocoa, vanilla, and more. Similar to nut butters, hummus and yogurt are available in a variety of flavors.
The wide range of available produce means that even a family of picky eaters can find healthy whole foods. Providing an example of a positive relationship with food is a beneficial practice parents can remember. Invite children to participate in the selection and preparation of these delicious snacks to encourage lifelong healthy habits.