Snacking between meals is a great way to curb hunger, and for kids, is a great way to help them get the extra nutrients they need for proper growth and development. For example, calcium, vitamin D, and iron are three nutrients that are especially important for growing children. Calcium and vitamin D important for strong bones, and iron is important for healthy red blood cells. A healthy snack can help provide these nutrients, as well as an opportunity for children to try new food and learn about cooking and nutrition. The key ingredients for a healthy snack include a balance of carbohydrates, fat, and protein.
Carbohydrates, or carbs as many people know them as, are an excellent source of energy for growing children. Carbohydrates provide energy and fuel for a healthy brain and can be the basis for a nutritional snack.
Foods that contain carbohydrates include:
Fat is also important for children, especially the omega-3 fatty acids that are necessary for healthy brain development. Like carbohydrates, fats provide a rich source of energy that can help prevent fatigue in children.
Foods that contain healthy fats include:
Protein is important for healthy muscle development, which is particularly necessary for children as they grow and mature. Some protein-rich foods also contain the vital nutrients calcium, vitamin D, and iron. Calcium and vitamin D can be found in dairy foods such as milk, yogurt, and cheese, as well as green leafy vegetables such as kale. Iron can be found in red meat, spinach, and beans such as chickpeas or kidney beans.
Foods that contain protein include:
When you or your child is making a healthy snack, try to combine some of the foods listed above to help get the most nutrients. Using the foods above, some healthy snack ideas include:
Healthy snacking doesn’t have to be complicated, and can be very kid-friendly! If your child is transitioning to whole grains, start slowly by mixing whole grains with enriched grains until they get used to the taste.