A nutritious diet promotes your child’s healthy growth and development. Healthy snacks, on the other hand, keep them from getting hungry between meals. Not just that, they are also a good way to boost the nutritional requirements of picky eaters. Most kids are hungry when they get home from school. And the first thing they do is step into the kitchen and look for something to eat. More often than not, they end up eating something devoid of nutrients.
So, what do we do then?
A healthy snack for kids at home after school can help them concentrate on their homework and give them the energy for active sports or other activities after their classes.
Fresh fruits and vegetables provide essential vitamins, minerals and fibre, while whole grains are a great source of carbohydrates and fibre. Low-fat dairy products can provide calcium and protein, while fish, beans, and nuts can help build and repair tissues in the body.
Getting kids to eat their veggies is one of the most challenging tasks for parents. No matter how crucial the food group is, many kids resist trying new veggies or refuse to eat them. According to the National Institute of Nutrition, school-going kids and teenagers should consume around 300 to 400 grams of vegetables every day. Now, that might seem like a lot, but it’s not. Let’s understand this better.
Vegetables are a powerhouse of essential nutrients our body needs to function. They are rich in iron, calcium, vitamin C, folic acid, carotenoids (precursors of vitamin A) and phytochemicals. By incorporating a variety of colourful veggies into meals and snacks throughout the day, we can help our kids get the nutrients they need to thrive. One way to do this is by frequently introducing new vegetables to their meals. It will add excitement and variety to their diet and expose them to different nutrients and flavours.
And, while you introduce a variety of colourful vegetables to kids, don’t overlook the leafy greens. Consuming fresh, locally sourced, and ideally seasonal produce ensures we get the most nutrient-dense and flavourful vegetables available. They can be incorporated into delicious snacks for kids too.
Here are some snack ideas for kids to encourage them to eat their veggies:
Smoothies: Smoothies make a quick snack that is nutrient-dense and tasty as well. Make green smoothies using spinach, kale, frozen green peas, and other vegetables, and think of a green character from a well-known film, TV show, or book your child likes. Now, name the smoothie after the character for your kid to easily identify it and ask for it the next time. To make a delicious smoothie, combine frozen bananas with plain fat-free or low-fat yoghurt with the veggies.
Dips, hummus and chutneys: As far as snacks go, veggies are often considered a bland option. However, incorporating them into dips, hummus, and chutneys is another fantastic way to enjoy their unique flavour and texture and add some nutrition to your kid’s diet. Add a can of pureed pumpkin, carrots and beetroots to the dips. These veggies provide a vibrant pop of colour and offer a range of health benefits. Give it a try, and see how these simple additions can elevate your snacking game! Hummus is a versatile dip and can be made with a variety of ingredients. One ingredient that adds a unique flavour and texture to hummus is roasted bell peppers. Make green chutneys extra nutritious by mixing blanched spinach into the recipe.
Vegetable chips: Another snack that has gained popularity in recent years is vegetable chips. These chips are made from vegetables such as sweet potatoes, beets, kale, and carrots, and are a great alternative to traditional potato chips. Not only are vegetable chips delicious but also packed with nutrients. They are a good source of fibre, vitamins, and minerals, making them a healthier option for snacking. Additionally, they are often baked instead of fried, reducing the amount of unhealthy fats and calories. Your kid may enjoy it on their own or with dips such as hummus or tomato salsa for an extra burst of flavour.
Finger sandwiches: These bite-sized sandwiches are a perfect and easy snack for kids. You can add a variety of vegetables to suit your kid’s taste. Add a mixture of finely chopped or grated veggies with either mayonnaise or cream cheese to give a delicious twist to the classic sandwich.
Pizza and chaat bases: Incorporating thick vegetable slices as pizza or chaat bases is another good way to elevate the nutritional value of a delicious snack. Innovative food hacks are all the rage these days, and among the popular ones is using unconventional ingredients to replace traditional ones. For instance, have you ever considered using eggplant slices as pizza bases or cucumber or tomato slices to make sev puri instead of fried puri?
A quick tip:
Experiment with different forms of the same vegetable to see what your child likes best. For example, if your child doesn’t like cooked carrots, try offering them roasted or raw baby carrots instead. You could also try serving shredded carrots in a salad or as a topping for sandwiches or pizzas. Trying different preparations for the same veggie might help you find a new favourite for your little one.
Here are some tips to help you keep your kids on track with healthy snacking:
• Involve your kids in the snack-making process. Let them help you choose the ingredients and prepare the snacks. It will add to the excitement of eating what they helped create.
• Keep snack-sized servings and set aside regular snack time. It helps prevent overeating.
• As parents, we all want our children to develop healthy eating habits. A simple way to encourage this is by creating a screen-free eating environment. Allowing our children to eat away from screens can help them develop a better relationship with food and promote a healthier lifestyle.
• Parents have a significant impact on their children’s eating habits. Make healthy eating a priority in your household to set your kids up for a lifetime of good health. The more they see you eating vegetables, the more likely they are to eat them themselves.
• Remember that your child may need to try things more than once before they decide to eat them.
• Serve vegetables at all meals and snacks. They may refuse to eat it but don’t force them. The more exposure you give them, the more likely they are to try eating it after several attempts. • Once a week, let your child pick a new vegetable to try. Tell them they can pick anything and incorporate that veggie into a snack.
The views expressed are that of the expert alone.
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