If you’re like me and trying to stick to a New Year’s resolution of eating healthier, you may also want to encourage your young children to develop better eating habits. At times, kids (and adults) don’t take well to consuming fewer sweets and more fruits and vegetables, but there are ways to make the transition a bit easier. Here are some quick, healthy and tasty snack ideas for older toddlers and preschoolers- tested and approved by my own little ones, of course!
Ants on a Log
I remembered this snack from my childhood days, so I recreated it for my children. Remember that this snack doesn’t work well for young toddlers because celery is too difficult for them to chew. Wash and cut some celery (preferably organic) into 2 inch pieces. Grab some natural peanut butter and spread it in the grooves of the celery to make the log. Top with dried cranberries or raisins for the ants. For children with peanut allergies, almond butter or soy nut butter can be substituted.
Grab a tall plastic (read: kid-safe) parfait glass and let your child help assemble this tasty treat! Create fun, colorful layers for a parfait by using plain yogurt, fresh or frozen (slightly thawed) fruit, and granola. You can mix it up by layering unsweetened applesauce, any kind of berry and vanilla yogurt and a sprinkle of graham cracker crumbs on the top. This is a great snack to share with the entire family! If you or your children follow a gluten-free diet, check out Elisabeth Hasselbeck’s parfait recipe found in her book “The G-Free Diet: A Gluten Free Survival Guide.”
Apple, Peanut Butter and Jelly Sandwich
Looking for a twist on the classic PB&J? Take an apple and cut it into slivers, revealing the star-shaped center. Push out the seeds if necessary and spread natural peanut butter and homemade or low-sugar preserves in between two apple slices. Delicious and pretty, too!
Hummus with Pepper Strips and Carrot Sticks
Hummus is a spread made with mashed chickpeas blended with olive oil, garlic and salt. You can usually find hummus near the deli section of your local grocery store. There are several varieties, including my favorite, cucumber dill. This is a great dip or spread for anything from pitas to pita chips to vegetables. It is high in vitamin C & iron, as well as a good source of folate, which is great for pregnant moms. The chickpeas add fiber and protein, which makes it a very filling snack. Dipping vegetables is a hit with my preschooler, and I simply steam the vegetables for my 19 month old daughter.
Graham Cracker Goodness
Graham crackers are a versatile snack that can be paired with a number of things, both healthy and not-so-healthy (think s’mores, which I’m ashamed to say I’d binge on if given the chance). Pull out a box of honey or cinnamon grahams- organic, if you’d prefer- and spread on some fat-free cream cheese, topping with sliced strawberries or blueberries. This is a good snack for children to help you assemble.
Healthy eating doesn’t have to be a boring or unpleasant experience. Start with these ideas, and with a little creative thinking, you can come up with plenty of snacks that your toddler or preschool-age child will enjoy! And the best part is that they’re good for you, too!