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4 Ways To Prepare Healthy Snacks For Kids Of All Age Groups
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  • Aside from three square meals, there should also be three healthy snacks for kids every day for them to get all the energy they need all day. This way, children are assured of having a balanced diet, which gives them the correct amount of a combination of Go, Grow, and Glow foods—the 3G’s of nutrition.

    How can snacks be healthy for kids?

    Snacks can play an important role in managing kids' hunger and boosting nutrition, according to experts from the Nemours Kids' Health. They explain that "a well-timed snack can even out spikes in hunger and provide a much-needed energy boost between meals."

    If younger kids, for instance, get hungry, they tend to become cranky, so giving them snacks can help improve their mood. On the other hand, having snacks can help prevent older children from overeating at lunch or dinner. Snacks can also help provide the nutrients that picky eaters may not be getting from regular mealtimes, ensuring healthy food for kids.

    Experts caution, though, that you have to know how much snacks to serve and when. Their advice is to stick to food items that are low in sugar, fat, and salt. They also suggest those that contain whole grains and protein. Moreover, don't give them snacks just before mealtimes.

    In an article written for SmartParenting.com.ph by Renee Rose Rodrigo, the US-certified holistic nutrition coach said, "Snack time is prime time for a good serving of fruit!"

    Ways to prepare healthy snacks for kids

    There are different ways of preparing healthy snacks for kids based on their age groups. But always the same rules to follow: low in sugar, fat, and salt but high in whole grains and protein.

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    Food bites work for toddlers

    Cutting up food, like a banana or crackers, will be easier and safer to eat for toddlers, experts point out. Just an important reminder: don't use sweets to reward or pacify your child. Doing either and both will most likely send the wrong message that sweets are better than other foods. It will also decrease their hunger and willingness to try other foods.

    Experts suggest you cut up some cheese into fun sizes and shapes to entice your child to eat and enjoy the nutrients, such as calcium and protein. Additionally, nutrition coach Rodrigo has these suggestions:

    • 3 - 4 tablespoons of applesauce + 4 - 6 pieces of potato chips
    • 1 - 2 cheese strings +  1 - 3 biscuits
    • 2 - 6 carrot/ celery sticks + 3 - 4 tablespoons of yogurt

    Let preschoolers choose snack from the options you present

    Experts point out that "control is still a key issue at this age," so preschoolers will most likely enjoy the chance to choose their snack from the options you present. Just bear in mind that the desire for sweets can be quite strong at this age, so it's best to give options that are already loaded with nutrients.

    Their suggestions include:

    • Cut-up fruit or applesauce
    • Yogurt
    • Sliced or chopped veggies
    • Whole-grain crackers topped with cheese

    Talk to school-age kids to find out which snack they want

    School-age kids have homework and other activities that keep them busy and hungry. Experts suggest to find out from them what they like and discuss about nutrition, then have those snack options ready in the fridge or pantry, where they can easily grab when hunger pangs attack.

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    These are healthy snacks for kids that your young pupils might enjoy:

    • Low-sugar, whole-grain breakfast cereal with low-fat milk
    • Low-fat string cheese
    • Fruit smoothies made with low-fat milk or yogurt
    • Nuts and raisins
    • Whole-wheat pita slices
    • Cut-up veggies
    • Whole-grain pretzels
    • Fruit slices dipped in low-fat flavored yogurt

    Add natural flavoring to snacks

    Nutrition coach Rodrigo observed that a lot of parents worry about unhealthy food they may be feeding their child. Her advice: "Stop worrying too much and listen to your intuition." She added, "If you’d like to make your child’s food more tastier, try adding spices instead of sugar. I like to use cinnamon, cardamom, saffron, parsley, and rosemary."

    (For more tips on healthy snacks for kids, read here.)

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