Kate Wall is a paediatric intensive care sister, with a passion for children’s nutrition, who blogs at www.scoffalot.wordpress.com
We all have those moments where hunger strikes and we reach for the nearest snack to fill the gap. If you’re out and about, you need to grab something convenient, but this can often be unhealthy. Healthy and portable snacks can be a lifesaver and this is never more important than when you are out with your children. Hunger waits for no-one where they are concerned!
Did you know?
• More than half of kids don’t eat a single portion of vegetables a day
• Almost a quarter (22%) eat sweets or chocolate every day.
Newsround food survey 2015
Why is this important?
Obesity, type two diabetes and dental extractions are all directly linked with diet, along with many other health complications. A lot of the snacks available to buy can be very high in salt, sugar, fats or a mixture of all three, even if they are portrayed as healthy or ‘for children’. This is fine for an occasional treat, but by regularly offering these to your child, they may experience some of the avoidable health problems described above.
It’s not all bad news!
It’s not always easy when life is so fast paced and it’s obvious why convenience often wins. The good news is it can be really quick, cheap and easy to make small changes which will make a big difference.
Snacks are a great place to start. Children have smaller stomachs and need snacks to help meet their daily nutritional requirements, keep their energy up and they can also be useful to help them get nearer to their 5 a day. Just a few extra minutes before you head out, and you will be armed with healthy fuel. Another bonus is children’s behaviour seems to be better when they are eating healthy foods.
We’ve all been in the supermarket when you’re only half way round and your child becomes “hangry” (Anger caused by hunger!). If in your bag you have the perfect balanced snack, then emergency (and public humiliation!) averted, whilst your child is getting a healthy nutritious addition to their day and you finish your shopping in peace.
There are lots of places to get inspiration for fun and healthy portable snacks in books and on the internet, so take a look for some ideas, but I have a few thoughts to get you started!
Let’s Get Snacking!
The most obvious place to start is fruit and vegetables. These often come ready to go straight in your bag – mother nature has done all the hard work for you!
Great ones to eat on the move are:
– Cherry tomatoes
– Sugar snap or mangetout peas
To name a few!!
For children over six months, try toasting seeds and chopped nuts in a dry pan for a few minutes. This will release their oils and bring out their nutty flavour. To make this a fun snack for children, let them watch the pumpkin seeds ‘pop’ when they get hot!
You can make your own almond butter at home. Just whizz almonds in a food processor for 10-15 minutes until smooth and creamy!
Fancy something crunchy?
Why not give home made “crisps” a try?
• Cut some whole wheat tortillas into triangles.
• Place them in a dry frying pan until they turn golden brown (turning them half way through).
• Leave them to cool and they will crisp up.
• Try sprinkling some spices or flavourings with a very thin layer of oil onto the crisps if you fancy a change or to spice things up!
If you need something quicker you can also use rice cakes and oatcakes for a crunchy alternative. All of these are great as they are, as dippers, or perhaps with a bit of cheese and apple for a more substantial snack!
Popcorn makes a change from crisps, but still feels like a bit of a treat. Simply pop the corn in a pan or microwave and add a small amount of melted butter with whatever makes you happy – cinnamon, nutmeg, chilli powder, cumin, paprika….
– Houmous is a really quick and simple dip to make at home. See my recipe here.
– Make a peanut butter dip for fruit and veg by mixing peanut butter (ones made from 100% nuts, otherwise they can be high sugar), with natural yoghurt. Add a little honey to taste if you like. A small pot of this with some fruit and veg sticks makes an easy snack on the move.
To make snacks instantly more exciting use a child’s favourite pot or box to package it.
When there’s time, get them involved in preparing/choosing the snack, this will make them more interested in eating it.