By Alyssa Rolnick MHSc. RD
Your kids need to fuel up throughout their day to keep their energy levels high. That’s why healthy snacking is an important part of your children’s nutritious diet. With our busy lives as parents, however, it’s easy to sometimes grab bags of chips or donuts on your way home from school or after-hour activities. I know. I’ve done it myself for my three children.
So I set myself a task: to switch those high-fat, high-salt choices with easy alternatives. Here’s what I recommend.
The chip swap Most brands of original flavoured chips average a whopping 18 grams of fat and 330 milligrams of sodium for only about 25 chips. If your kids are anything like mine, they can gobble that amount in only about three handfuls! And who can stop at only three? So in my house, I now offer them crunchy, healthier alternatives. For example, my kids love munching on plain popcorn – no butter or salt added. Trust me – they get used to it. They also enjoy eating mini plain rice cakes that are made with whole grains. Try our homemade recipe for cinnamon tortilla chips with blackberry yogurt dip. Every once in a while, I’ll buy lower-salt, baked chips, but I’ll dole out small portions. They are never allowed to eat right out of the bag.
The cookie swap My kids love cookies. They especially love the smell and taste of hot, fresh homemade baked goods right out of the oven. By making your own, you can add heart-healthy ingredients such as bran, flax seed and use whole-grain flours. Most store-bought baked goods contain loads of fat, especially the unhealthy saturated and trans fat kinds. Make sure to look for whole-grain varieties that are trans fat free. Better yet, find some time to bake a double batch of your own and freeze in portion sizes. My freezer is always full of a tin of oatmeal chocolate chip cookies or homemade squares and bars. Try our easy-to-make strawberry bran mini-muffins recipe and watch your kids enjoy.
The chocolate swap My older son will crave chocolate once in a while, but I rarely buy him a chocolate bar. Instead, I usually melt some dark chocolate and drizzle it over a bowl full of strawberries. Or I make him a trail mix with a handful of dark chocolate chips along with whole-grain cereal pieces and unsalted sunflower and pumpkin seeds.
Soda pop swap Sugary drinks including pop, fruit drinks and iced tea spike the number of calories your children consume throughout the day. Instead, gradually begin to wean them off the sweet stuff. Offer them a glass of drinking water, low-fat milk or a serving (175 mL, ¾ cup) of 100% fruit juice.
The candy swap Full of sugar and not a stitch of nutritional value, candy is just not worth having in your home. When your children are looking for something sweet, entice them with delicious fresh fruit, which contains natural sugars and plenty of fibre and other beneficial nutrients too. Make fruit so much more satisfying by trying our recipe for sautéed cinnamon apples with bananas.
Posted: June 2011