I Crave 3 Tips for Healthy Snacks

20

May 11, 2012 by mamacravings

mamacravings

Healthy snacking is a challenge. The pre-packaged options tend to be full of everything we don’t need. Preparing snacks at home does take thinking ahead of time and some preparation, but it can be more cost-effective and better for the family’s health.

In my healthy lunches post, I touched on my definition of the word healthy. To me, food is healthy if it has purpose. For baby Eli, I steer away from empty calories and excess ingredients. I look for a balance of fruits, vegetables, dairy, protein and whole grains. This applies to both meal time and snack time.

The more portable the better.

The more portable the better.

Many times, snacking is on the go…well, at least it is with my 2 year-old. He seems to stay in a constant state of ravenous hunger. I dare say his most used sentence during a 24-hour period is “Mama, I so hun-grin!” It even tops “I p’ay wif you ou’side, my Mama.” and “I sings you a song.” Snacking is very important in our household.

To keep baby Eli stocked with snacks, they have to be portable. They must fit in a diaper bag to be whipped out at any mentions of being “hungrin”.

I have invested quite heavily in individual sized Rubbermaid containers. These easily hold petit carrots, raisins, whole-wheat crackers or apple slices.

Pre-packaged snacks also offer the great benefit of portability. When I shop for things pre-packaged, I am an avid label reader. I have found that “all natural” or the little checks of approval mean very little. My rule is if I don’t recognize the ingredient or can’t pronounce, then Eli isn’t eating it.

A couple of pre-packaged snacks that we use are the puree pouch by Happy Tot and the fruit leathers by Gerber.

The puree pouches are one of Eli’s favorite snacks. I like them because I can get a combo of fruit and vegetables in the same puree. Many of them have half of a serving of fruits and half of a serving of vegetables in one pouch. It’s a great way to cram a bit of extra veggies in his diet. We all know how I feel about cramming vegetables; I am a fan.

I steer away from the fruit leathers unless we are in high need of portability and convenience. The sticky fruit leather is hard on the kid’s teeth. It will leave a sticky residue that can lead to decay. We eat these snacks in moderation.

The more colorful the better.

The more colorful the better.

Kids gravitate towards things that are colorful. This applies to what they eat as well. Produce naturally is very interesting in its array of colors. Snack time can be an opportunity to “play” with foods and colors. If he/she is old enough, ask your little one what color snack is wanted for the day. If green is the theme: offer kiwi, green grapes and snap peas.

This type of grouping can be a gateway to new foods. Little ones can be intimidated by newer items. I always introduce a new food with a familiar food. This pairing can inspire a more adventurous spirit. I will also offer new food or previously “gucky” foods in a new way. I offered Eli sweet potatoes peeled, unpeeled, cubed, as a puree and mashed before he finally wanted anything to do with them.

The more dip-able the better.

The more dip-able the better.

For kids, there is something magical about being able to dip food into a condiment. Perhaps it’s the fun of the potential mess or the resemblance to painting. Either way, they love it. However, dips tend to be high in sugar. Finding a healthier alternative can be a challenge. We have become a big fan of using Greek yogurt as a dip.

It is versatile and full of protein and calcium. Eli dips bell pepper strips and carrots in plain Greek yogurt. He likes to dip strawberries, bananas and grapes into Greek yogurt with just a touch of local honey (Please note that honey is not recommended for children under the age of 12 months.).

 

In searching for healthy snacks for the family, I have found it to be worth the extra prep time. It is healthier. It is more cost-effective. And it allows for great learning opportunities and quality time with baby Eli.

 

What is your go-to snack for your family?

Advertisements

20 thoughts on “I Crave 3 Tips for Healthy Snacks

  1. MommaSnell says:

    Fruit! We must keep fresh fruit in our house, and I feel like we eat it within days. My kids would eat grapes, pineapples, and oranges every single day. I have a soft spot for popcorn, but we’ve started making it on the stovetop with just the kernels – to eliminate the bags, with all of the extra butter/salt.

    • mamacravings says:

      Yum!! We go to the grocery store at least twice a week just for produce. It goes really quickly in our home too.

      My parents love to air-pop popcorn. It’s yummy and fun to make! 🙂

  2. Oster's Mom says:

    I try to be creative, since Oster is allergic to all dairy. His favorite treats are whole blackberries and eating a banana as the skin is peeled for him after each bite. Another great snack he loves is cous cous. He could eat it all day if we let him 🙂

    We used to offer him the Happy Tots puffs, but switched to Cherrios at 11 months.

    I agree with you: the extra prep time is well worth the outcome. This kid loves his fruits and veggies.

    • mamacravings says:

      I haven’t tries cous cous with Eli. But I will definitely have to do so!

      Allergies take being creative to a whole new level. A dear friend of mine has a 2 year old with several allergies. She is amazing at using the local health food store and research to keep her menus fun and interesting.

      Eli tore up some Happy Tot puffs when he was a baby! 🙂

  3. Excellent tips!! Thanks for sharing them!
    My kids always seem to need a snack in between getting home at the end of the day and dinner time. I made a rule that they could pick a fruit, a veggie, or a dairy. They have gotten really good about it, so they often pick something they can get out themselves like grapes, baby carrots, applesauce, yogurt, or cheese. For snacks during the day, I try to pair a carb and a protein – I do whole grain crackers and cheese, fruit and yogurt, pretzels and peanut butter, etc.

  4. I am all about reading labels too now, and since I grew up in the food industry, I buy from companies and farmers I know too. Great tips!!!

    • mamacravings says:

      Thank you!
      I love to buy locally. I am counting down the days until our summer farmers’ market is open. It also is a great learning experience for Eli. I am already shopping for farms to visit and to pick blackberries. Yumm! Yumm!!

  5. lew1214 says:

    Ok so question… CJ is not a meat eater, and only prefers certain veggies! we offer a good variety just from our own diet but any good recourse for menu ideas for very picky eaters?

  6. lew1214 says:

    CJ is an extremely picky eater! Fruit is not a problem, only certain veggies will he even consider and meat well that seems to be a joke to our little man! Any suggestions on menu ideas or resources for very picky eaters! I am finding it hard to sneak veggies when so limited to what he will even touch… Hearing “mama I no like” puts a hitch in my plan!

  7. TheMFresh says:

    HAHA! My two year old loves “dipths”! If he doesn’t have dip, he usually doesn’t like it. 🙂 Great post.

  8. boomiebol says:

    The girls love bananas…and biscuits so instead of the sugary kind, I give them water crackers. When they used to ” like” yogurt, I would chop fresh berries into them…but they no like it no more lol. Great post

  9. Kim says:

    Ian turned 1 in March. Bananas and Kiwi are some of his favorite snacks but he will eat just about anything. He has been eating Squash from my moms garden for the past 2 days.

  10. I agree with your whole post in principal, but food has been a difficult issue for us in practice. Eli can’t have any dairy and we are gluten-free now as well. This eliminates so many choices. On top of that he has some sensory processing issues that make him very sensitive to food textures and can make swallowing difficult. The times he does eat chunks of food it usually has to be coated with ketchup before he will eat it. If I offer ketchup as a dip he will just eat it straight and ignore all the food. I don’t like him getting so much by way of condiments even tho I do buy the organic with no HFCS variety. I’ve tried using hummus made a variety of ways as a dip or a spread but he won’t have it. In the end we rely on the fruit/vegetable purees heavily around here, and fresh fruit is one thing he can put away just fine. I worry though because even though there isn’t a lot of added sugar in his diet (other than the ketchup) there is a high amount of natural sugar. He was doing so much better in the eating department for a couple of weeks and now we are back to all fruit, purees and nursing. I hope it is just because he is teething and we can quickly make progress to more balanced eating soon!

    • mamacravings says:

      Each kid is so individual on allergies, preferences and needs. It can be really difficult to find what works best for each kid.
      My Eli goes through periods where he will be very picky, or where he will want to nurse more/less. Then there’s times where he eats everything in sight.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 7,178 other followers

Mamacravings Categories

Mamacravings Archives

%d bloggers like this: