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Dairy-SnackWhen 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!

  1. Allow kids to make their own snacks by designating a snack area in the refrigerator and cupboard.
  2. Slice vegetables ahead of time. Have a variety of dips or toppings available, including hummus, low-fat salad dressing or shredded cheese for melting.
  3. Make your own trail mix. Combine dried fruit, nuts and popcorn in small, snack-size bags.
  4. Grab a cold glass of milk.
  5. For a tasty smoothie, blend together plain low-fat yogurt with 100% fruit juice and frozen fruit of your choice.
  6. 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.
  7. Stock up on single-serving products, such as yogurt, string cheese, or puddings. These make for an easy grab-and-go snack.
  8. 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.
  9. 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.
  10. 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!