Summertime has come around and the temperature is on the rise. With warmer weather, it is important to have snacks ready on hand to cool down playing children, while at the same time, making sure such snacks are nutritious and delicious. Here are some healthy snack ideas that kids will love.
Eating fruits is one of the easiest ways to get a great dose of fiber and vitamins in your child's diet. One fantastic way to get kids to eat more fruits during summer is to freeze them. Try starchy fruits for an icy, creamy consistency or bite size fruits for less mess. Some fruits that taste delicious frozen include:
- Bananas or plantains
- Papayas, cut into slices with the seeds removed
- Apricots, pitted and sliced into segments
- Berries of all types
- Pineapple, skinned and cut into chunks
You can have your children eat them by itself, or drizzled lightly with honey or dark chocolate (avoid milk or white chocolate varieties to cut excess sugar) for a boost of antioxidants.
Another yummy and nutritious snack kids will love is home-made smoothies. Not only can you cut out excess sugars and additives that may be present in ready-made varieties, you can also control what goes into the concoction. Leftover smoothies, or even just plain fruit juice, can be frozen to make delicious popsicles that kids will definitely love.
While most smoothies can be easily made by blending ice and fruit, here are some tips to boost the nutrition content of these smoothies:
- Instead of ice cream, try adding unsweetened, non-fat yogurt for a calcium and protein boost. They will be just as thick and creamy as regular varieties after blending, without unnecessary fat or sugar.
- You can control the amount of sweetness by adding honey. Honey has higher antioxidant content than normal sugar and syrups.
- Soy milk, rice or almond drinks are great for lactose intolerant children.
- Leftover fruit and yogurt smoothies make delicious creamy popsicles.
- Be creative! An easy way to make home-made "sorbet" is to freeze fruit juice with small chunks of cut up fruit for texture.
- Add some nuts and/or seeds, such as almonds or sunflower seeds, to your blend for a boost in minerals.
- Mild vegetable and fruit blends, such as apple and carrot, can be a welcoming change for some children.
The key to keep kids cool in summertime is to make sure they are well-hydrated. If your child does not like the taste of water, here are some fruits and vegetables high in water content that they may enjoy:
- Watermelon: high in lycopene (which gives the flesh the red hue), this fruit has anti-cancer properties. Each watermelon is also roughly 90% water and also contains vitamin A.
- Strawberry: this well-loved berry has a myriad of antioxidants and is high in immune-boosting vitamin C.
- Oranges: almost synonymous with vitamin C, they are great additions to salads or by itself.
- Whole coconut (or coconut water): when cracked open, this tropical fruit yields refreshing juice that is also anti-inflammatory and calming.
- Cucumber: cucumbers are rich in minerals such as magnesium, potassium and calcium, and can be easily eaten by itself or with some salad dressing of your choice.
- Celery: this hydrating vegetable also provides a boost of fiber and goes great with peanut butter (for a boost in protein and minerals).
Still looking for ideas to create healthy, tasty snacks that kids will enjoy? Here are a few more:
- Pour the juice of your choice into an ice cube tray and freeze. Drop these flavored, nutritious "ice cubes" into unflavored tonic water for a fizzy fruit drink.
- Freeze leftover smoothies in ice cube trays and drop them in tonic water for a fizzy "cream soda" without excess sugar and additives.
- Melt dark chocolate in a double-broiler and dip your favorite fruit, followed by a roll in your favorite crushed nut. Leave the dipped fruits on parchment paper and freeze them in the freezer for frozen treats packed with antioxidants, protein, fiber and minerals.
- Cut an orange and scoop out the interior. Finely chop the flesh. Refill each peel-shell with fruit juice and drop some chopped fruit bits. Freeze the whole shell for a "twist" on a frozen orange!
- Peel and smash a frozen banana in a bowl until it's fluffy and top it with crushed nuts, honey drizzle, and a dollop of yogurt for a "faux" ice cream sundae!