Summer is well on its way with kids getting out of school, which means that the calorie consumption in your household is soon going to skyrocket. Whether they're involved in activities all summer or spend a majority of it relaxing, kids with time on their hands tend to snack. The trick lies in supplying them with healthy, quick snack options that will keep their energy levels up and the intake of processed ingredients down. This is a feat in and of itself, but then you also have to think about finding something that your kids will actually like. Don't be discouraged--help is on the way! Below are eight kid-approved healthy snacks that you can add to your summer stockpile to have ready and waiting for hungry hands.
- Grape and cheese skewers - Put red or green grapes on a toothpick along with a cube of cheddar cheese, and you have a quick, nutritious and refreshing snack. Make these skewers up a bunch at a time and have them waiting in the fridge for kids to grab and go.
- Trail mix - Skip the pre-mixed versions at the grocery store that include bits of candy. We all know what kids will pick out, and what they'll leave behind. You can quickly make your own healthier version with a selection of nuts, seeds, raisins and other dried fruits like apples, bananas, mangoes and apricots that will give your children a solid amount B-complex vitamins, protein and heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids. Make a big batch, portion it out in snack size zippered baggies and stash it in the pantry - trail mix will keep for weeks in a cool, dry place.
- Ham rollers - Slice an apple into a handful of thin wedges, top each one with a quarter-slice of cheddar cheese, and then wrap the entire wedge in a slice of deli ham. Like a mini-meal, this snack gives your child a great mix of savory and sweet flavors, along with fiber (from the apple) and protein (from the cheese and ham). These are also easy to make a bunch of for the week and store in the fridge.
- Veggie sticks and dip - Cut up cucumber, celery, peppers and/or carrots into easy-to-dip sticks and portion them out in baggies or plastic wrap. Then, make up a batch of homemade ranch dressing or buy some hummus or another kind of dip your kids like for a crunchy treat full of fiber and nutrients.
- Fruit juice Popsicle - You can buy Popsicle trays at practically any dollar store or big box retailer. Simply pour 100% fruit juice (whatever flavor your children love most) into the trays and put them in the freezer. After about two hours, you've got a batch of flavorful frozen treats that can cool your kids off on hot summer afternoons. Popsicles made from natural fruit juice definitely beat the store-bought fruit Popsicle that are loaded with refined sugars and potentially harmful artificial food coloring.
- Yogurt and fruit parfaits - If your kids are older and know their way around the kitchen somewhat, keep the ingredients handy for yogurt and fruit parfaits. Letting them create their own snack will not only give them something to do if they're bored, but it will also help reinforce healthy eating practices. All you need are some blueberries, sliced strawberries, sliced kiwi fruit and low-sugar yogurt. In an 8- to 12-ounce clear cup, have them layer the fruit and yogurt, topping it all off with some granola or toasted almond slices to add some nice crunch and texture.
- Smoothies - Again, depending on the age of your children, you can teach them how to make smoothies in the blender from ingredients you already have in the fridge. One excellent example: combine one banana, a cup of almond milk or regular milk, a cup of frozen berries (strawberries, blueberries and raspberries), and a handful of kale or spinach in a blender and let it rip.
- Dark chocolate-covered nuts - Sometimes you just need a little chocolate, and this is true for kids, too. Dole out this treat under supervision since kids can tend to eat sweet treats without any regard to portion size. Whether you choose peanuts, almonds, cashews or pecans, make sure they're covered in dark chocolate rather than milk chocolate. Dark chocolate is often lower in sugar and contains a higher concentration of bioflavanoids than what you'll find in apples, green tea or red wine.