Summer time is upon us and keeping kids energized and hydrated for summer can be a lot of work! Having healthy snacks on hand helps keep kids fueled and satisfies hunger in between meals. Snacks also provide additional nutrients kids need for proper development and growth. While there are plenty of snack items available, making your own snacks at home can have many benefits including engaging kids in the kitchen, nutritional benefits, controlling ingredients, and cost effectiveness. Read this month’s blog to learn more about these benefits as well as our favorite nutritious snacks kids can make at home this summer!
Get kids cooking!
- Engage kids with preparing food- When children are involved in preparing food, they are more likely to eat and enjoy it. When kids develop healthy grocery shopping, cooking, and meal and snack habits with you, they will be more inclined to keep those healthy habits later. When kids participate in the kitchen, they experience real-world application of math, science, and language arts. Cooking skills will help your child develop a healthy attitude with food and encourage curiosity. Check out some of our resources below:
- Check out our Look and Cooks, an illustrated recipe series for our youngest chefs!
- Head over to our YouTube channel to see how easy it is for kids to make our health snack recipes with our Yum Academy Recipe Videos!
- Looking for more ways for your kids to learn about nutrition and healthy snacks? Register them for our On-Demand Small Bites Nutrition Education program featuring:
- Downloadable educational articles about nutrition concepts and healthy eating tips
- Animated educational videos that highlight nutrition concepts covered in each lesson
- Interactive recipe videos, providing step by step directions for kids to follow along and make healthy snacks at home
- Downloadable recipe cards to match the recipe videos featuring kid-friendly (heat-free) healthy snack recipes.
Nutritional Benefits: Snacks are the perfect way to build a Healthy Combo for nutrients and energy!
- Nutrients: Kids grow up fast! Eating balanced snacks gives kids the opportunity to get the nutrients their bodies need to help support proper physical growth and development in between meals.
- Energy: Eating snacks helps fuel their energy giving kids what they need to go out and conquer the day!
- Consider the following in choosing a snack to include at least one ingredient from each of the categories below:
- Lean protein – support the building and repair of muscles
- Whole grains – provide fiber which can help you feel full and carbohydrates to keep you energized
- Fruits and Vegetables – contain essential vitamins and minerals vital for health
- Cooking at home allows you to control and customize the ingredients that are making their way to your family’s table. You can easily make substitutions for more healthful ingredients and substitutions for allergies. Common allergens like eggs, milk, wheat, nuts, and tree nuts, can be found in snack foods, even if it doesn’t seem like the ingredient would be- making it imperative to review ingredient lists of packaged food items for individuals who have food allergies to these ingredients. By preparing snacks at home, you can customize your recipe to be allergen free.
- Pre-packaged snacks are convenient, but convenience has a cost. Making healthy snacks at home can be a cost effective way to eat healthy. Buying key base ingredients in bulk (like whole grain cereals and oats, popcorn, dried fruits, nut or seed butters) can be a cost effective way to prep snacks at home. In the summer, fresh produce is often more readily available and lower in cost making it a great time to purchase your favorite fruits and vegetables to incorporate into your favorite snacks! Frozen and canned fruits and vegetables are always great options as well!
Try some of our favorite kid’s summer snack recipes and why they are healthy choices below!
- Crispy Strawberry Truffles are a simple dessert made with rice cereal, dried strawberries, and sunflower seed butter. This well-balanced treat features whole grain brown rice, which provides fiber and micronutrients, especially manganese as well as carbohydrates for energy; sunflower seeds provide protein, and dried strawberries contain healthy boosting antioxidants.
- No Bake Granola Bars contain only four ingredients! They offer a sweet mix of oats, honey, cinnamon, and sunflower seeds. This easy kid approved high energy rich in fiber treat, made with whole grain oats, protein from sunflower butter, sweetened with honey, not sugar and flavored with cinnamon. Adding nuts provides additional protein and nutrients but can easily be omitted for allergy concerns.
- Zucchini Bites include sliced zucchini topped with hummus and cherry tomatoes. This well-rounded snack features Hummus. Hummus is made with chickpeas, which are fiber-rich legumes high in calcium, magnesium, and iron and tahini (a sesame seed paste high in unsaturated fats and fiber) with fresh tomatoes and zucchini (which contain Vitamins A and C).
- Cookie Dough Hummus is a creamy, nutty, cookie dough dip perfect for dessert or as a snack. This sweet treat contains chickpeas- fiber rich legume high in calcium, magnesium, and iron as well as protein from sunflower seed butter, and flavanols from dark chocolate. Enjoy with fresh strawberries!
- Guacamole is a creamy avocado dip mashed with tomato, red onion, lime, and cilantro. Avocados are a great source of monounsaturated fat, fiber, B vitamins, especially folate. Use veggies to dip guacamole for even more nutritional benefits!
- Avocado Hummus is a simple blend of chickpeas and avocado topped with the flavor of olive oil, cilantro, and red pepper flakes. This superstar combo combines the health benefits of avocados, chickpeas, and tahini.
- Trail Mix commonly contains raisins, whole grain cereal, and sunflower seeds, but you can use other ingredients, too! You’ll enjoy energy and fiber from whole grain cereal, protein from sunflower seeds, as well as micronutrients such as potassium from raisins.
- Banana Oat Energy Bites are a combination of oats, dates, banana and a dash of honey for an easy snack or breakfast on-the-go. These contain fiber from whole grain oats (which helps keep you full), sweetness from honey, electrolyte potassium from bananas (which supports nerve function) and micronutrients like calcium, iron, and manganese from the dates.
- Lemon Parmesan Popcorn is a delicious popcorn topping made of lemon, parmesan, and drizzle of olive oil. Skip the movie style buttery popcorn and try whole grain plain popcorn that provides fiber and energy topped with olive oil, a source of monounsaturated fat which can support heart health, zesty lemon, and parmesan cheese.
Head over to Common Bytes to explore some more healthy snacks!
Fresh Fruit: Every color of fruit or vegetable provides a specific set of nutrients and health benefits for our bodies.
- Red fruits and veggies – provide lycopene and can reduce risk of cancer. Also protect cells from damage and keeps the heart strong and free from disease
- Orange and yellow fruits and veggies provide carotenoids helping maintain healthy eyes, reduces risk of cancer and improves the immune system (vitamin C and folate)
- Green fruits and veggies provide calcium, iron and lutein. Help reduce risk of cancer, maintain healthy eyes and reduce risk of birth defects.
- Blue and purple fruits and veggies contain antioxidants that help reduce the risk of cancer, stroke and heart disease. Also linked to improved memory function and healthy aging.
- White fruits and veggies can help lower blood pressure and cholesterol. Some also aid in muscle and bone recovery and help the heart function properly.
**See below for health benefits of fruits/vegetables related to the remaining recipes*
- Fruit Skewers: alternate grapes, blueberries, and strawberries on a skewer for a sweet and refreshing snack
- Fresh Fruit Parfait: a yogurt and honey mixture topped with blueberries, strawberries, and bananas
- Fruit and Cheese Kabobs: blackberries, cantaloupe, strawberries and cheddar cheese arranged on a skewer for an easy snack
- Fruit Salad: a refreshing mix of oranges, strawberries, pomegranate, sunflower seeds, and chopped mint
- Sweet Plantain Chips: plantain slices baked in cinnamon and sugar make for a sweet, crunchy chip
- Tropical Fruit Salad in Ginger Syrup: a refreshing fruit salad made with banana, mango, and oranges and drizzled with ginger syrup
- Fruit Infused Water: refreshing and hydrating. boost your water by adding fresh mint, cucumber, and/or fruit.
- Mango Strawberry Popsicles: a blend of strawberry, mango, apple and lemon juice, and honey frozen into homemade popsicles
- Edamame with Spice: spice up edamame with lime juice, sunflower seeds, and onion powder
**We refrain from using nuts/nut butters as we work primarily in schools where these items are not allowed due to allergen concerns.
ABOUT COMMON THREADS
Common Threads is a national nonprofit that provides children and families cooking and nutrition education to encourage healthy habits that contribute to wellness. We equip under-resourced communities with information to make affordable, nutritious and appealing food choices wherever they live, work, learn, and play. We know that food is rooted in culture and tradition so we promote diversity in our lessons and recipes, encouraging our participants to celebrate the world around them.