Healthy Summertime Snacks for Kids (Adults, Too!)
“Mommmmm, (or Daaaaaad) I’m HUNGRY! Is there anything to eat?” It’s one of the many sounds of the summer that we hear from our children! Kids often spend more hours at home when school is out, and it is easy for them to overeat when they are not in their normal school-year routine. But if your children are more active (as you hope they will be) in these warm months, they are bound to need snacks in between meals. What you want to avoid is constantly giving them ready-to-eat, calorie-, preservative-, and sugar-laden snack foods. Not only are these foods unhealthy, they can pack on the pounds and spike blood sugar levels. They can also be expensive!
First and foremost, make sure that your children really do need a snack. Many times when children (and adults, too) say they feel hungry, what their bodies are really trying to tell them is that they are THIRSTY! Try having your child drink a glass of water first, especially if it has not been too long since the last snack or meal. There have actually been studies done on this and it is true that sometimes we confuse the feelings of hunger and thirst. Next, try to determine if they want the snack because they are hungry or if they are just wanting to eat because they are bored. Just as your children learn anything else as they grow and mature, it is important to teach them from an early age that we should only eat when we are hungry and not to eat when we are stressed or bored. They should also be taught to stop eating when they are full–it is not necessary to eat everything on their plates!
I am certainly no super-mom. I have relied at times on the occasional ready-to-eat summer indulgences, like ice cream and popsicles, to quell my kids’ hunger. But there are a lot of better choices. You can even involve your children in snack preparation ( a great summertime activity!). Here are a few of my favorites!
Banana popsicles. Bananas are a great, healthy snack. Peel the bananas and cut in half. Put a popsicle stick lengthwise into the banana, place on a cookie sheet, and freeze. You can even dip the bananas in chocolate or yogurt and then into crushed cereal before freezing.
Frozen grapes, or unfrozen, whichever the kids like better.
Frozen blueberries on top of non-fat yogurt.
Make homemade popsicles. Get a basic popsicle set and fill with fruit juice or pureed fruit. You can also make them more like a creamsicle by blending in some non-fat yogurt. MUCH healthier than store-bought popsicles.
Concoct a homemade smoothie. Blend together low-fat yogurt and fresh fruit, garnish with a piece of fresh fruit.
Carrot and celery sticks with fat-free ranch dressing as a dip, or that good old standby: ANTS ON A LOG! I enjoyed this as a child—fill celery sticks with low-fat peanut or almond butter and top with raisins. Or you could use dried cranberries or cherries instead of the raisins.
Make fruit and vegetable kebobs. String pieces of different fruits or vegetables on small kebob sticks. You could also add pieces of low-fat cheese chunks, or have the kids use small cookie cutters and cut the cheese into fun shapes.
Core an apple, then slice it into rounds. Spread peanut butter on one round and top it with another, making a peanut butter & apple sandwich!
Dip vegetables into hummus—yum! In addition to carrots and celery, choose cauliflower, broccoli, sugar snap peas, cucumbers, zucchini or yellow squash spears, or radishes.
Low-fat popcorn is a good option.
Make mini pizzas using English muffins. Toast the muffin, then drizzle with pizza sauce and sprinkle on low-fat mozzarella cheese.
Keep small portions of snacks ready to go in snack-size baggies. If the kids know where the food is and can readily get at it, it WILL get eaten!
These are some basic healthy snack options. I welcome your comments with your ideas! It’s great to share what has worked for you!
Have a GREAT summer!
Blessings to you,