Snack Attack: Healthy, portable treats for school

Eat healthy even on the run


 
 

By Emily Paster

Goodbye lazy, unstructured days of summer and leisurely meals. No more eating breakfast at 10 a.m., picnicking at the park and enjoying family dinners on the deck. Hello rushed breakfasts, bag lunches and hungry children running in the door at 3 p.m. As for dinner, we squeeze it in between homework, music lessons and sports practice.

For many Chicago families juggling school, work and activities, the day starts early and ends late. Meals may be rushed affairs or come at odd times. Finding healthy snacks that provide fuel for kids on the go is critical.
Although the word "snack" may conjure up images of junk food, eating between meals is not inherently unhealthy.
"Snacks are not only fun for kids, they provide essential energy that their growing bodies need," says Deanna Segrave-Daly, a registered dietitian, mom and blogger at Teaspoon of Spice (teaspoonofspice.com). But for snacks to accomplish these lofty goals, they have to be the right kind.
"Serve snacks that include fruits, veggies, whole grains or protein, like low-fat dairy, nuts or nut butters versus empty calorie food or drinks," she says.
Because kids often eat on the run, parents need snacks that offer real nutrition and fit in a backpack. And remember, you can pack the healthiest snack in the world, but you have accomplished nothing if your kids refuse to eat it.
It is possible to avoid processed foods if you plan ahead. Bake muffins or quick breads on the weekend to have packable snacks all week long. Substitute whole wheat flour for half the all-purpose flour and sprinkle in wheat germ to increase the nutrition of your home-baked goods. Try banana bread, pumpkin bread, zucchini or carrot muffins-the possibilities are endless. The kids will enjoy helping you bake, too.
Another great kitchen project that will keep your family snacking all week is homemade granola. When you make granola at home, you can limit the sugar and use wholesome ingredients.
Dairy foods make great high-protein snacks, Segrave-Daly points out. But again, it is important to plan ahead to make sure you are getting the most nutrition without a lot of extras that you don't want. Avoid buying pricey tubes of portable yogurt, which are full of sugar and chemicals. Instead, buy a large container of vanilla yogurt and scoop portions into small, reusable containers for eating on-the-go. Mix in sliced fruit and homemade granola for a nutritious yogurt parfait.
Fruit also fits the requirement for a tasty, healthy and convenient snack. Many fruits are excellent sources of vitamins and fiber and are easy to grab and go. Consider pairing fruit with a protein or whole grain to keep kids satisfied for longer. For example, grapes pair well with cheese and a banana is terrific with whole grain cereal. Wrap wedges of apple in sliced turkey or, better yet, combine turkey and apple in half a whole wheat pita.
But what if, at the end of the day, your kids still demand cookies for snack? Don't say no. Just make your cookies healthy!
I developed this healthy cookie recipe to work as a quick breakfast or snack. With whole wheat flour, rolled oats, wheat germ, pumpkin seeds and dried cranberries, these cookies are loaded with protein, fiber, vitamins and minerals. My kids still go crazy for them.
Even healthy snacks need to be fun.

Goodbye lazy, unstructured days of summer and leisurely meals. No more eating breakfast at 10 a.m., picnicking at the park and enjoying family dinners on the deck. Hello rushed breakfasts, bag lunches and hungry children running in the door at 3 p.m. As for dinner, we squeeze it in between homework, music lessons and sports practice.

For many Chicago families juggling school, work and activities, the day starts early and ends late. Meals may be rushed affairs or come at odd times. Finding healthy snacks that provide fuel for kids on the go is critical.

Although the word "snack" may conjure up images of junk food, eating between meals is not inherently unhealthy.

"Snacks are not only fun for kids, they provide essential energy that their growing bodies need," says Deanna Segrave-Daly, a registered dietitian, mom and blogger at Teaspoon of Spice (teaspoonofspice.com). But for snacks to accomplish these lofty goals, they have to be the right kind.

"Serve snacks that include fruits, veggies, whole grains or protein, like low-fat dairy, nuts or nut butters versus empty calorie food or drinks," she says.

Because kids often eat on the run, parents need snacks that offer real nutrition and fit in a backpack. And remember, you can pack the healthiest snack in the world, but you have accomplished nothing if your kids refuse to eat it.

It is possible to avoid processed foods if you plan ahead. Bake muffins or quick breads on the weekend to have packable snacks all week long. Substitute whole wheat flour for half the all-purpose flour and sprinkle in wheat germ to increase the nutrition of your home-baked goods. Try banana bread, pumpkin bread, zucchini or carrot muffins-the possibilities are endless. The kids will enjoy helping you bake, too.

Another great kitchen project that will keep your family snacking all week is homemade granola. When you make granola at home, you can limit the sugar and use wholesome ingredients.

Dairy foods make great high-protein snacks, Segrave-Daly points out. But again, it is important to plan ahead to make sure you are getting the most nutrition without a lot of extras that you don't want. Avoid buying pricey tubes of portable yogurt, which are full of sugar and chemicals. Instead, buy a large container of vanilla yogurt and scoop portions into small, reusable containers for eating on-the-go. Mix in sliced fruit and homemade granola for a nutritious yogurt parfait.

Fruit also fits the requirement for a tasty, healthy and convenient snack. Many fruits are excellent sources of vitamins and fiber and are easy to grab and go. Consider pairing fruit with a protein or whole grain to keep kids satisfied for longer. For example, grapes pair well with cheese and a banana is terrific with whole grain cereal. Wrap wedges of apple in sliced turkey or, better yet, combine turkey and apple in half a whole wheat pita.

But what if, at the end of the day, your kids still demand cookies for snack? Don't say no. Just make your cookies healthy!

I developed this healthy cookie recipe to work as a quick breakfast or snack. With whole wheat flour, rolled oats, wheat germ, pumpkin seeds and dried cranberries, these cookies are loaded with protein, fiber, vitamins and minerals. My kids still go crazy for them.

Even healthy snacks need to be fun.

 

 
 
 





 
 
 
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