"Kids love to snack, and the good news is that snacking is important to a child's well being.
Children are growing and developing rapidly. Active children have an increased need for energy as well as other essential nutrients, but they have small stomachs. They need to eat a lot, but have difficulty eating a lot at one time ... Here are some quick and easy snack ideas for you to try. Enjoy!
The easiest way to help a child eat right, is to not allow that child to develop any bad eating habits to start with.
When my son was young, I never allowed him to have syrup on pancakes or waffles. He ate them with unsweetened applesauce. He rarely got any sweets. If we felt the need to indulge, we'd buy some, hide it, and eat it after he went to bed...and we'd hide the wrappers too. He only saw us eating healthy, and believed that's the way everyone ate.
I encouraged him to always try new foods, eat different veggies, took him berry picking. We always had a vegetable garden where he worked/played beside me. We grew berry plants and I cooked/baked from scratch. Yes, I worked full time, but I also had my priorities straight. (Do you know that research has shown that a child's IQ can be raised by as many as 10 points by eating healthy foods for only 1 month?)
Pop/soda was a rarity in our home. I juiced. The rest of the time, we encouraged him to drink water. Before we got our in-house water purification system, I bought reverse osmosis bottled water from the stores. Yes, it cost some, but was lots cheaper than pre-sweetened drinks. When he started to play sports, he drank sports drinks to keep his electrolytes in balance (it's often 95-103 degrees here in the summer). We also kept him on a strict routine, such as eating bananas before playing sports, as they are high in potassium, a nutrient that is lost through excessive sweat. While some kids literally had heat-exhaustion, he kept strong.
I put veggies into everything I make. Our chili has meat in it, but also contains more than half of diced celery, onions, green peppers, and home-canned tomatoes too. Spaghetti sauce has pureed carrots, celery and onions in it. Salads are served with every meal; I used fresh spinach or other greens in place of iceberg lettuce. That left over sweet potato (or what-ever) is mashed and added to our home-made bread. Vegetable based soups are served a lot. Chicken and dumplings also have sliced carrots and celery in it. I kept carrot and celery sticks, cucumber slices, broccoli and cauliflower pieces, green pepper strips, zucchini and yellow squash spears, and tomato wedges with dip in the fridge for snacks.
Bread was always whole grain, including rolls and pizza crust. I made whole grain waffles and pancakes, and kept them in the freezer for quick breakfasts. Oatmeal was the leading cereal in our home, as is kasha--toasted buckwheat groats. I add barley to soups. Grains such as quinoa, amaranth, and millet are in my cupboards.
I've found that many vegetarian recipes are disguisting, but if you experiment, you can make extremely healthy versions of traditional foods that taste just as good. His friends loved coming to our house and devoured everything in sight.
Sandwiches did not contain lunchmeat which is too high in sodium and fat. They were made with left-over roast beef, tuna or chicken. A favorite was peanut butter, honey and banana on whole wheat, sometimes sprinkled with raisins. (He still comes home from college and eats this comfort food.) They were always on whole-grain bread with spinach instead of lettuce.
Once he started school and went to friend's homes, we lost total control over his eating habits. Yet even now, he prefers healthy foods over junk. He craves his favorites, has learned to cook many of them, and feels that we endowed him with healthy foundations that will last him for a life-time.
Hooray Susan! I do the best I can with my kids, too (though we don't have a veggie garden, but will try containers over the next growing season!) We buy only wholegrain breads, and use whole grain flour for at least 1/2 the recipes. We don't buy cookies and sugary snacks (candy is a rare option, I try to control it for holidays only) in fact, I worked at a store that sold candy, and he was the only two year old that didn't beg for it, but liked the cookies! We are not great with veggies, though carrots are a big hit, and one of the best veggies next to broccoli to eat! I saw you liked to use quinoa, amarnath, and millet....have you tried the "ancient grains" cereal, with honey and sea salt added? SO GOOD! My kids only like oatmeal and cheerios!
I hope my boys get to like more veggies, I still put a small amount on their plate, to at least encourage, and make a point to eat them when I can! I think the best you can do for your kids is just teach by example, and though they may fall on the wayside, they usually come back to their roots. At least now they usually pick fruit over cookies!
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