The best and healthiest snacks are the ones that are easy to make and fill you up!
Kids are generally active and need essential nutrients to grow up. It’s easy to be tempted to buy pre-packaged snacks. They’re convenient, cheap and addictive. However, some of them are wrapped in misleading packaging that proclaims health benefits. Efficient marketing and businessmen manage to convince people that a product is natural due to its packaging, but the content isn’t that healthy for your body.
Here are examples of misleading food products:
Meal replacement bars are notorious. Most people think they’re healthy because they contain whole grains and cereals. However, check the sugar content and you’ll likely feel like you’re eating a candy bar. Beware of juices, bottled tea, instant oatmeal, pre-made granola with dried fruit, flavored yogurt, and trail mix with chocolate candies in it. The same goes for canned soup, pre-packaged lunch combos, veggie chips and salad dressing. Products labeled with “natural,” “made with real fruit,” gluten-free, fat-free, or 100 calories may still contain addictive and large doses of unhealthy ingredients.
Unhealthy snacks are made from cheap products that have a longer shelf life. They’re so full of chemicals to preserve them that bacteria and fungi aren’t interested to take a bite. On the other hand, healthy snacks won’t last long. They will rot, as per nature’s order. Thus, making it difficult to keep for an extended period of time. Promoting healthy snacks is important so kids don’t get into the habits of craving sugar early on. Sugar is addictive and can lead to serious health complications later if eaten in excess. Educating them about buying the right products will benefit their health in the long term.
Here’s how you can suggest healthier snack option for your kids after a long and demanding day:
The kernel of truth
I used to get bagged popcorn out of convenience. It was a cheap yet delicious snack that I enjoyed after a walk. My favorite popcorn was the sweet and salty kind. That was until I tried organic kernel freshly popped in a pan. The corn flavor was surprisingly dominant, it was like eating a corn on a cob! I enjoyed it so much that I didn’t need any butter, sugar or salt on it. Enjoying the authentic corn flavor changed my mind about popcorn. All you need is a deep pan with a lid and there you have it.
Popcorn has only 30 calories per cup. It’s excellent for diabetics if no sugar is added. Moreover, one serving of popcorn fulfills 70% of an individual’s daily intake of whole grain. To my surprise, it also contains about 8% of the daily value of iron. Natural popcorn is delicious, cheap and doesn’t need any unhealthy additives or fat. So, buy some kernels and get popping!
“Pearing up” with cheese
Cheese is made out of fat and protein. It’s healthy for you as long as you control your portions. It’s a good source of calcium, magnesium and vitamin A, B12. According to a Danish study, regular dairy intake protects children against cavities (Lempert, Christensen, Froberg, Raymond, & Heitmann, 2015). It is specifically the dairy calcium, whey and casein, that is associated with less cavity development. There are healthier cheesesthan others. In general, hard cheeses tend to be more caloric, and soft cheeses have a lower sodium count. When shopping, opt for cheese made by organic grass-fed animals because those cheeses are the highest in nutrients and contain omega-3 fatty acids and vitamin K-2.
Fruit is always a good choice for a filling snack. Apples and pears are high in fibers, therefore good for your heart. They’re also low in calories and rich in antioxidants to fight free radicals. They contain vitamin C, vitamin K and potassium. A high fiber intake prevents colonic diseases like diverticulitis. This disease occurs when sacs build in the lining of the large intestine, provoking inflammation and infection. Cheese and fruit can make a good “pear’ing” but make sure to control portions.
Kale’n it chips
If you have a craving for something savory, get this superfood. Kale chips are easy to make. Tear your kale, drizzle with organic extra virgin olive oil, sprinkle with finely grated fresh garlic, bake it for 12 min at 350°F (175°C) and voilà. If you’re feeling adventurous, try different spices such as paprika & chilli, lemon & parmesan, salt & vinegar, sea salt & honey, garam masala, Cajun seasoning, cumin etc.
Kale is an awesome leafy green. It contains protein, fiber, vitamin A, C and K. It is also loaded with antioxidants to protect against cell damage. Eating kale will help reduce cholesterol and it promotes weight loss. Its lutein and zeaxanthin are essential nutrients that will protect the eyes. It is high in minerals such as potassium, magnesium and calcium, that people don’t get enough of.
Ring my bell, hot stuff
Bell peppers are naturally sweet, I could just eat them like an apple. Fun fact, they’re actually fruit, not veggies. This fruit is primarily composed of carbs (but are low in calories), vitamin C, vitamin B6 and vitamin K1. It is also rich in antioxidants. Its capsanthin gives it its vibrant color. The main benefits are eye health and anemia prevention.
Eating them raw is more fun because they’re crispy and hard, which makes them perfect boats for dips. Enjoy them with guacamole, hummus or babaganoush. Again, making your own dip is much healthier and recommended than buying it pre-packaged. You can even teach your kids about when to cross a street, using the red, yellow and green peppers. This could be a fun and nutritious activities for the family.
Find your inner peas
Fresh sugar snap peas are a no-fuss snack. They’re accessible and you can eat them raw or briefly roasted with salt and pepper. The health benefits are numerous. Sugar snap peas prevent constipation, help control blood sugar, help with weight loss and lower cholesterol.
The fun thing about snap peas is that you can get seeds and plant them in your garden. They’ll grow easily in most cold soil. The advantage is that they’re rarely bothered by insects or disease. They grow super fast and can be ready to eat after 3 weeks after they start to flower.
Enjoy all the snack ideas and involve your kids in creating them. It could be a fun family activity!
Lempert, S. M., Christensen, L. B., Froberg, K., Raymond, K., & Heitmann, B. L. (2015). Association between Dairy Intake and Caries among Children and Adolescents. Results from the Danish EYHS Follow-Up Study. Caries Research, 49(3), 251–258. https://doi.org/10.1159/000375505