by Selva Wohlgemuth, Co-op News contributor
Selva Wohlgemuth, Registered Dietitian and Nutritionist
Once the heat of August is behind us and the more temperate days of September start to round the corner, the school routine starts up again. Planning healthy snacks for when kids return home from school is a very important aspect of a wholesome diet.
Habits are learned at a young age, and if parents set a good example, then the children will follow.
The key for success is making healthy choices available at all times.
If a child (or even an adult) gets to choose between chips or veggies with dip, it is hard to negotiate. However, if the only available option is veggies with dip, then the choice is easy!
Mary’s Gone Crackers vs. Rice Crackers
Rice crackers, whether plain or flavored, are easy to overeat. Plus, they are very low in protein and fiber, so they don’t keep you satisfied until dinner. On the other hand, it’s hard to overeat the hearty seed filled crackers from the Mary’s Gone Crackers line. Pair these nutritious crackers with some slices of organic cheese, top with avocado, or dip into hummus.
Veggie Sticks and Dip vs. Chips and Salsa
If veggies are prepped and ready to grab and chips are not even in the house, children (and adults) will eat them! An assortment of baby bell peppers, sugar snap peas, and baby carrots, require very little prep and are super delicious when dipped in a homemade ranch dip (see recipes below) or even some hummus.
Plain Organic Yogurt vs. Fruity Yogurts
Even if they are organic, fruity yogurts have a lot of added sugars. For example, a 6-ounce serving of Wallaby’s strawberry whole milk yogurt has 21 grams of sugar whereas the same serving of the plain whole milk yogurt contains 7.5 grams. For a healthy snack, choose the plain whole milk yogurt and top with a handful of fresh strawberries and maybe even a sprinkle of chopped roasted nuts like walnuts or almonds.
Fresh Fruit with Nuts vs. KIND Bar
Although KIND bars taste good (and are handy when on the go) they are not the best choice if you are trying to encourage eating whole foods at home. Also, how fast can you eat a KIND bar? Usually they are done in no time. Instead of stocking the pantry with sugary bars, offer kids an apple and a handful of almonds or 2 tablespoons of nut butter. Not only will the fiber keep them feeling full for longer (7.5 grams vs 3.0 grams) but it also takes them a lot longer to eat thereby providing adequate mental cues that they have filled up on a healthy snack.
Homemade Iced Tea vs. Bottled Iced Teas
Staying hydrated is very important because often we mistake thirst for hunger. Having options available besides water may make it more enticing for children to reach for some fluids during snack hour. Unfortunately, bottled iced teas or beverages often have added sugars, and lots of them. Choosing to make homemade ice tea with only a small amount of honey is the smart way to go, plus it saves a lot of money. Republic of Tea offers caffeine-free teas including Passionfruit Mango Red Tea, Ginger Peach Red Tea, White Hibiscus Passionfruit Iced Tea, and Strawberry Vanilla Red Tea. You can also check out the BULK tea section at the Co-op or visit some of the local herb shops in town for delicious caffeine-free tea blends.