Summer is here, which seems unanimously to come with kids’ endless requests for a snack.
Somewhere in the flexibility of being home more and the need for boredom-busters that often have kids ending up in and around the kitchen though, kids constant questioning “can I have a snack” is one that parents can start answering with a more proactive approach.
Instead of feeling pressured to either provide a snack upon being asked or to tame the hangry temperament until the next meal, this post will help parents to make the most out of each bite offered with quick and efficient fuel ideas.
Every Bite Matters: Quick and Efficient Snack Ideas for Kids
As with when I have shared about how to build a healthy snack, one thing that continues to be an area of emphasis is to offer a balance of nutrients.
One of the reasons kids often ask for endless snacks is because they aren’t being satiated enough with a given snack. While starchy foods more traditionally seen as “snack foods for kids” are often enjoyed in large amounts by little ones, they lack the nutrition to effectively fuel a child for their high energy and spurts of activity in between meals. Additionally, for children who may need snack options that pack in more nutrition to help promote growth as well, snacks become an especially opportune time for each bite to be optimized. Rather than filling up the precious real estate of a child’s stomach with “filler foods,” parents can also use the following principles as criteria for what to include in their child’s snack offering.
That’s one of the reasons why I always encourage parents to “boost each bite.” What I mean by that is to find small, subtle changes that add major nutrition to your child’s otherwise normal snack. Although you can always add a scoop of ice cream to their smoothie/shake or offer processed, high-fat food for merely more calories, it probably goes without saying that these aren’t my ideal “boosts.” Instead, I love encouraging parents to try out other products on the market that help to deliver more nutrition with each bite, sip, or slurp. As you will see in the examples below, I like to suggest the idea of using a kid-friendly protein powder, like Healthy Height. I know that nutritionally it adds the boost children need in their diets. Equally important, I trust this product is backed by pediatricians who saw the need for a healthier shake supplement and have since created this as a safe, more-natural alternative for families (with less sugar than its competitors).
This way, whether you have a child who seems like they can never stay satisfied (and always wants snacks) or a child who seems like they can never eat enough to gain weight and grow properly (and often “eats like a bird”), you as the parent can confidently approach snack time knowing you have wholesome, nutrient-dense options for optimizing each bite. The following balance of nutrients in the snack options you offer will create a framework for snack time success:
Aim to Include a Combination of Protein, Fat, and/or Fiber for Extra Fuel
While having snacks that include any one of these components can be sufficient for some or when a small snack is merited, including options that include protein, fat, and/or fiber will help to both fill and fuel your child for longer.
As the most asked about macronutrient by parents, protein is a hot topic of concern. Many parents are concerned their children don’t eat enough protein (click here to see how much young kids need!), especially in the form of proteins often offered at meals like meat, poultry, seafood, beans, or eggs. That’s why finding creative ways to get protein in at snacks can help to both lessen the concern on how much children eat at mealtimes while also providing them with valuable fuel that helps them to feel full longer.
Here are some easy and efficient ways to add protein for extra fuel:
- Offer Healthy Height* instead of a standard juice box for a protein-rich option
- Add hummus to fresh veggies sticks and/or crackers
- Add nuts or seeds (as appropriate for child’s age) to homemade trail mix with dry cereal and dried fruit
- Hard boil eggs for a quick addition to any snack plate
- Make energy bites with added nuts and seeds instead of standard grain-based granola bars
With more calories per gram than either carbohydrates or protein, fat offers a nutrient-dense way to make a snack more satisfying. That means, bite for bite, your child eats the most calories from fat (compared to from carbohydrates or protein). Fat also helps us to feel full longer, so simple swaps of low-fat options for higher-fat ones or additions of healthy fat options can help curb kid’s hunger even if they only eat a few bites.
Here are some easy and efficient ways to add fat for extra fuel:
- Mix Healthy Height* with whole milk instead of water
- Add nut butter spreads, smashed avocado, or melted cheese to toast (instead of using jam or other alternatives)
- Pair fruit or crackers with nut butter as a dip
- Offer whole milk yogurt in place of lower fat “kids yogurts”
- Include hemp, chia, or ground flax seeds with items (in muffins, mixed in yogurt or applesauce, sprinkled on top of toast)
This is a great reason why adding fruits or vegetables to a snack helps to not only round out what is offered nutritionally, but also provide an element that promotes added fullness. Fresh fruits and vegetables are always an easy idea to add to a snack, as is dried fruit if parents want an option that holds up better in the heat and provides more compact calories (energy!) than fresh alternatives.
Here are some easy and efficient ways to add fat for extra fuel:
- Make a fiber-rich green smoothie with frozen fruit, a few handfuls of greens, and a scoop of Healthy Height*
- Offer a fresh fruit salad instead of fruit snacks
- Opt for whole grains in snack foods, cereals, and crackers
- Cut up fresh veggie sticks and offer alongside “veggie straws” or other low-fiber snack foods
- Use whole grain flours like whole wheat or oat flour (instead of white flour) when making muffins or other baked goods that work for easy, on the go snack options
Any parent knows there is a need for both quick AND efficient snacks when fueling small stomachs. So instead of reaching for snacks with empty calories on the regular, consider the above advice and ideas. Use these to help brainstorm ways that you could help your child to make the most out of every bite by adding in more protein, fat, and/or fiber at snack time. Also, if your child’s pediatrician has suggested you try Pediasure, Carnation Instant Breakfast, or any other oral supplement to try and promote more nutrient-rich options in the diet, I encourage you to check out Healthy Height*
*When checking out HealthyHeight.com, use code VeggieVirtue15 for a 15% off discount on your order.