I found a helpful article on HowStuffWorks.com about the 10 best snacks for kids. Kids are good candidates for eating a small meal every three hours, simply because they are unable to eat a too much food in one sitting. Most parents, and just about every child care center, feed children an afternoon snack to keep their batteries charged. While the afternoon snack is a good idea, the How Stuff Works article mentions an important point:
Since the afternoon snack can account for one-third of their daily calorie allowance, kids can easily consume too many calories by eating what amounts to four meals a day. Since the calorie requirements of children change rapidly with age, I’m not a big fan of counting calories for kids. Kids are generally active enough to burn through excess calories, parents simply need to monitor the daily trends of how much their kids are eating. With that being said, I’ll run through the 10 snack ideas that are presented:
10. Fruit: Kids often have a love/hate relationship with fruit. Some kids devour ample amounts of it while others freak out at the thought of eating an apple. The nice thing about fruit is the variety of colors, flavors and textures. A parent should be able to find something their picky child will like, especially at the prospect of having no snack at all.
9. Cereal: I’m not a fan of this snack item. Some children will enjoy having a cup of Cheerios for a snack, but most kids I know won’t eat a semi-healthy cereal for breakfast, much less for their afternoon snack. Cereal can easily turn into a full-calorie second breakfast of the sugary kind. If your kids like healthy cereal, then run with it.
8. Peanut Butter: The downside to peanut butter is the extreme amount of calories in a small amount of peanut butter. The article suggests PBJ sandwiches, which may or may not be too many calories for your child. The suggestion of spreading peanut butter on celery is good, a parent just needs to find the fruit or veggie your kid is willing to eat with peanut butter.
7. Smoothies: This is a great idea, and one I have yet to try out on the kids. Depending on the ingredients, a parent can make smoothies in a variety of colors and is a sure way to get kids to eat fruit. My only suggestion would be is to make the smoothies while the children are out of the room. Even though smoothies taste good, some picky eaters won’t try them if they see real fruit and yogurt went into making them.
6. Applesauce: A good choice that is similar to item 10. Some kids are more likely to eat applesauce than an actual apple. You can also by them in convenient and portable individual portions. Be sure to get 100% natural applesauce, and nothing with added ingredients.
5. Mini-pizzas: If you make the mini-pizzas in the manner the article suggests, you may have a winner with the kids. Many kids are going to want more than veggies on their pizza, and since they are relatively small, the average kid is going to want to eat a few of them, which will hike up the calories.
4. Meat Roll-ups: At first glance, this is an odd idea for a kid-friendly snack. They suggest rolling slices of meat with cream cheese or other fillers. You can get some variety with different kinds of meat and fillers, so most parents should be able to find something the kids will enjoy.
3. Trail Mix: The article suggests making your own, rather than buying trail mix. That is a good idea not only in order to control the ingredients, but to cut the expense as commercial trail mix is often expensive. I like this snack idea, just keep track of the amount as such mixes are often high in calories due to the nuts.
2. Cheese: A parent can do so many things with cheese, that virtually every child will eat it. The article has good tips for cheese snack ideas as well as avoiding the unhealthy fake cheese.
1. Popcorn: While popcorn has health benefits, most people don’t make popcorn in a healthy way. This is a high calorie food that is often cooked with too much oil, or sprinkled with butter and salt after the fact. Not a great #1 choice, but the article makes a good suggestion of mixing the plain popcorn in with the trial mix.
Most of these items can be easily placed into your afternoon snack rotation. Many parents can benefit from eating these snacks with their kids. As always, just be sure to watch the calories, since many of the mentioned snacks are calorie-dense (such as peanut butter), which may not matter if it is a rare snack.
Do you have other good afternoon snack ideas for kids?