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How to Create Quick and Healthy Snacks for Kids
Posted on May 06, 2013 by Rob Kellaghan
Snacks are a healthy and nutritious way to help ensure your child receives the recommended amount of calories each day. UMI looks at recipes for a number of quick and healthy snacks that can be easily made at home.
Once a child begins to crawl and generally become more active, they require extra food and nourishment to help provide the energy needed to grow and develop correctly. Many medical experts suggest offering snacks to kids from the age of eight months, as the process of eating not only helps the child develop the motor skills required for self-feeding, they are also a fun way to introduce new tastes and foods. Fresh fruit and vegetables are widely available in the UAE, and the following recipes are designed to offer a choice of healthy snack alternatives for kids.
Pita Bread and Dip
The natural way for a young child to eat is with their hands, and this tasty snack offers a great way to eat and learn at the same time. Simply cut up some pita bread into small chunks and serve alongside a small bowl of hummus or a low fat spinach dip.
Hummus is a popular dish throughout the Middle East, and while there are a number of different ways to prepare it, for kids the recipe should be kept as simple as possible. Ingredients such as chickpeas, olive oil, tahini and lemon juice can be blended together to make the dip, and depending on the kids’ age, small amounts of garlic and salt may also be used to improve flavour.
The spinach dip consists of steamed spinach, low fat yoghurt, cream cheese, parmesan cheese and lemon juice. The ingredients should be blended until smooth and then placed in the fridge to serve cold. Once the dip has been prepared, serve alongside bread and allow the child to enjoy feeding themselves. Small sized portions of celery, baby carrots or other raw vegetables can also be used as an alternative to bread.
Fresh Fruit and Low Fat Yoghurt
Fruit topped with yoghurt is a perfect mid-afternoon snack for kids of all ages; and one which is prepared and served in minutes. Fruits of all kinds can also be chosen for this snack, and depending on the age of the child, low fat yoghurt or yoghurts suitable for infants should be used.
Apples can be sliced into small pieces, oranges cut into edible sections, bananas sliced up or mashed and berries placed in a bowl then covered in yoghurt. Kids love finger food and small portions of fruit are a good source of vitamins, minerals and fiber; while low fat yoghurt is full of calcium and protein. Fruits also provide a natural way to keep kids hydrated during hot weather, and helps to ensure blood sugar stays at a healthy level.
The simple snack on a stick, kabobs are different items of food that have been threaded onto a small pretzel stick. Depending on the age of the child and their taste preferences, items such as cheese, grapes, olives, vegetables and even meat can be used.
Given the use of a small sharp stick, kabobs are probably more suitable for kids aged two or more that are comfortable using cutlery to eat. The simple cheese and grape kabob is ideal for younger kids as it covers both dairy and fruit foodstuffs in one simple snack. For older and more adventurous kids, kabobs containing meat and vegetables such as peppers or onion can be grilled and served nice and hot.
Pizza are a popular food for kids and adults alike, and this delicious mini pizza snack is sure to be a big hit with kids of all ages. Once again, pita bread can be used for this dish, or depending on availability, whole wheat English style muffins are another tasty option.
To make, simply cut the bread or muffin in half then smear a tablespoon of marinara or tomato sauce on top. Add some finely grated cheese and grill until the cheese begins to melt. Leave to cool and serve.
A small bowl of steamed vegetables may not be many kids’ idea of a tasty snack, but chomping down on broccoli, carrots, cauliflower, kale or potato ‘chips’ are a good way of introducing the individual flavours of certain vegetables to kids.
Like fruits, vegetables will be an important part of the child’s diet for the rest of their life and it is crucial to help the child develop an early liking for a variety of different vegetables. Vegetables have many health benefits, but for kids they are a source of essential nourishment that helps the body and organs develop and stay healthy. If a child is adverse to snacking on vegetables, a parent can help by jointly eating the snack together, and in most cases the child will follow the parent’s lead.
It is important to remember that snacks are just a simple food to help supplement the child’s main meals each day. They should be small enough to help fill a gap between breakfast and lunch, or between lunch and dinner. For young kids especially, the three meals of the day are crucial and a snack food should not be used as a substitute for a main meal