When I was younger, I remember coming home from school needing an afterschool snack. My go-to snack was always chocolate milk—I loved mixing up the chocolate powder with milk and then gulping it down while watching my favorite afternoon TV shows. I didn’t know it at the time, after all I was only about 8, but chocolate milk is a very healthy snack, packed with nine essential nutrients especially important to children’s health. In fact, snacks can help children meet nutrition guidelines in order to grow and maintain a healthy weight. Check out these tips from the USDA on preparing healthy snacks!
- Allow kids to make their own snacks by designating a snack area in the refrigerator and cupboard.
- Slice vegetables ahead of time. Have a variety of dips or toppings available, including hummus, low-fat salad dressing or shredded cheese for melting.
- Make your own trail mix. Combine dried fruit, nuts and popcorn in small, snack-size bags.
- Grab a cold glass of milk.
- For a tasty smoothie, blend together plain low-fat yogurt with 100% fruit juice and frozen fruit of your choice.
- Snacks shouldn’t replace a meal, so help your kids understand how much is enough. Using snack-sized sandwich bags can help pre-portion snacks.
- Stock up on single-serving products, such as yogurt, string cheese, or puddings. These make for an easy grab-and-go snack.
- Though the occasional treat is okay, try to keep healthier options on hand to be sure that your child is getting enough nutrients throughout the day.
- Put together combination snacks that represent at least two of the food groups. Offer a glass of milk and whole grain crackers or melt cheese on a whole grain English muffin.
- Add dried fruit like apricots or raisins to homemade goodies to add nutritional value to your favorite baked goods.
Check out ChooseMyPlate.gov for more information and nutrition tips!