Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Healthy Snack Ideas

It's back to school time. Do you know what that means? It's August, and . . . it's Kid's Eat Right Month. 

What is Kids Eat Right Month?
Kids Eat Right (KER) month was started in 2014 by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (AND). The purpose of KER month is to educate family, caregivers, communities, and policy makers about the importance of nutrition and optimal health for children and their families.

Since I work with pediatrics patients, this is a busy time of the year with children returning to school. As a Registered Dietitian (RD), I want to ensure that children are fueled in a healthy way to grow, play, and succeed in school.

The most frequently asked questions I get this time of year are questions about feeding children healthfully. The mostly commonly asked question is "What's a good snack?" for my child. So, today I'm talking about healthy snacks!

What is a healthy snack?
Snacks are small amounts of food. The portion size depends on your age with smaller portions for toddlers and larger portions for older adolescents and adults.

For school age children, teenagers and adults, the goal is to eat 5 servings of fruits and vegetables. The more specific goals is 2 servings of fruits and 3 servings of vegetables per day. If you eat 3 meals + 0-2 snacks per day, this averages out to at least one serving of fruits or vegetables at every meal and snack. So, I like to think about having fruits or vegetables as snacks. If a fruit or vegetable does not fill you up, pair it with something. You can add hummus, salad dressing, cheese, peanut butter, almond butter, nuts, or yogurt.

What are some healthy snack ideas?
Here are three quick and easy snack ideas. These make fruit and vegetables the star and are cute for an after school snack.

Vegetable Flowers

My vegetable flowers is made with the following ingredients: hummus, sunflower seeds, carrots, bell pepper, basil, and parsley.

1) To make the vegetable flowers, wash all your produce.
2) Spoon hummus on the plate.
3) Arrange baby carrots around the hummus in a spiral shape like flower petals.
4) Sprinkle sunflower seeds on the hummus to represent the sunflower's seeds.
5) Cut a long strip of bell pepper to be the flower stem.
6) Arrange two basil leaves on either side of the bell pepper to be the flower's leaves.
7) Arrange parsley under the bell pepper to represent grass.
*Note: Steps 5 and 6 are optional. They create visual appeal but are not necessary for a deliciously snack.

Cute Caterpillars

My vegetable flowers is made with the following ingredients: red seedless grapes, green seedless grapes, candy eyes, and royal icing.

1) Wash all grapes.
2) Thread grapes on toothpicks or skewers.
3) Attach eyes with royal icing.
Note: You could also use reduced fat cream cheese or nut butters, like peanut butter or almond butter, to attach the eyes. You could also make the caterpillar's eyes with raisins or mini chocolate chips. Also, make sure your kids or guests know that there are toothpicks in the caterpillars.

   Rainbow Hummus

My rainbow hummus snack is made with the following ingredients: orange bell pepper, yellow bell pepper, green bell pepper, hummus, peanuts, parsley.

1) Wash all vegetables.
2) Slice off the bottom of the orange and yellow bell peppers to create clouds.
3) Cut the green bell pepper in half to make the pot for the "pot of gold at the end of the rainbow."
4) Slice thin slices of bell pepper (approximately 1/4 to 1/2 inch slices). Then, cut the slices in half to make half-moon shapes for the arches of the rainbow.
5) Arrange bell peppers on the plate to make the rainbow and clouds.
6) Spoon hummus on the plate.
7) Place your green bell pepper "pot" on the plate.
8) Place peanuts on the hummus to represent the "gold" in the pot.
9) Place parsley on the plate to represent the grass that the pot of gold is sitting on.

If you have any healthy snack ideas, share them below in the comments.

August is Kids Eat Right Month™, the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics and the Academy Foundation's chance to highlight the fight for our children's healthy future. Find out how you can get involved!

Stay tuned all this month for more on healthy eating and Kids Eat Right Month. For more recipes, encouragement, and tips for healthy eating, follow me on PinterestInstagram, and Twitter

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