For many parents and kids, snacks are unhealthy treats – packets of crisps, cupcakes, or little chocolate bars – but this doesn’t have to be the case.
There are so many really tasty things we can snack on that are just as cost-effective, and are also just as easy to buy or make.
Healthy snacking is reliant on planning and shopping. What we have in our cupboard is what we are going to graze on at home.
A little planning before visiting the supermarket goes a long way towards having things we want to eat in our cupboards, and reducing the number of things we might not want our kids (or ourselves!) to eat.
If we want to eat less cake, chocolate and crisps, then buying less (or none at all) in the supermarket is a good place to start. It sounds pretty simple, but life for the average family nowadays is so busy that we rarely take the time to stop and re-evaluate the little things that can have a big effect on our lives.
Having nice jars of seeds, dried fruits, and nuts on the kitchen countertop is an easy way to start changing your grazing habits. They are visually very attractive, and are easy for kids to grab handfuls of for snacking.
There are so many other dried fruit options out there, too; mulberries, dried figs, medjool dates, dried mango, apricots, even prunes (which get an awful rap, but are wonderful). The same goes for nuts and seeds – go unusual!
Fresh fruit is also a simple place to start. Some parents are concerned about sugar content and fructose levels, but when comparing fresh fruit to a chocolate bar or a packet of crisps, it’s a far superior snack food. It’s also high in fibre and water.
Branch out here, too: many parents get caught up with apples, bananas and oranges, but there is a whole other world of fruit out there that is really interesting and fun. Our kids love mango, passion fruit, all forms of berries, grapes and satsumas. Fresh chunks of pineapple and ripe melon are always winners, too. And the best bit? These can all be prepared for kids’ lunchboxes.
Nut butters, such as almond or hazelnut, are also super-tasty on slices of apple or banana, or on top of crackers or oatcakes. Tahini (think of it as peanut butter made of sesame seeds rather than peanuts) is a great one, too – high in calcium and omega 6 and 9, and also great on rice cakes.
A FOODIE FOUNDATION FOR KIDS
As parents, we all want our kids to be healthy and happy. We want them to have the best chances in life, and helping them to develop good eating habits is a great gift to give them for later life. For growing kids, the food they eat every day directly affects their moods, energy levels and much of their health. The earlier they get into the habit of eating well, the better for them and, consequently, us.
Eating “well” is a subjective thing nowadays, but from our experience it’s all about the most basic of advice – getting our kids to eat more veg! In saying the word “veg”, though, we are not limiting this to simply vegetables, but stretching it out to cover fruits, veg, and “whole foods”.
What are a whole foods? They are simply natural, unprocessed foods. Fruit and veg are whole foods, as are beans, lentils, and whole grains such as brown rice, quinoa and wholemeal couscous. These foods are naturally high in vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and fibre (meaning they will fill you up and give a slow release of energy), low in fat, low in sugars, and low in calories. These are the foods with which the human body has evolved.
5 TOP TIPS FOR GETTING KIDS TO EAT MORE FRUIT & VEG
- Veg soup is a great way to ‘hide’ the veg while young palates are still developing. We often serve veg soup in a bowl with some brown rice to our kids, and they will nearly always eat it.
- Avocado is great for getting your kids into the habit of eating healthy fats. We often put it on rice cakes or crackers for them, and top with some blueberries or even bee pollen to make it look bright and colourful. Here’s a great guacamole recipe.
- Homous is savoury and delicious, and great with carrot sticks, or on some sort of crunchy cracker.
- Try cooking veg that they can pick up and eat – think chunks of sweet potato, squash, green beans, and even asparagus.
- Porridge makes a great, healthy brekkie with dried fruit and honey. In warmer months, try this beautiful Bircher muesli recipe for a cooler version.
BAKING AT HOME
Baking with your kids at home is really rewarding. Sure, it takes longer, and there are plenty of spills, messes and even broken crockery to think about, but if you can make time for it, we have found our kids are much more likely to eat our home-baked delights if they’ve been involved, too.
There are so many alternative baking recipes that are not centred around white flour and sugar, but around wholegrain options such as buckwheat flour, nut butters, honey or other liquid sweeteners.
Flapjacks are something we often bake at home with our kids. There are a million and one flapjack recipes out there that don’t contain nuts, so that they are suitable for kids lunchboxes.
We also have great recipes for energy balls…
…and even healthy “Snickers” bars!
In summary, family healthy eating doesn’t have to take monumental changes – just little ones, centred around eating more whole foods, that will soon become habit!