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Sprucing up your child's snack menu

Q: My kids are bored with our snack menu. Can you give us fresh ideas to spruce up our selection?

boys eating

A: Snacks are an important part of kids' daily food intake because they get hungry between meals. With their rapidly growing bodies it actually benefits them to eat throughout the day, so snacks become more like a mini-meal.

Keeping any menu lively can be challenging when your bag of tricks start to go a little stale. Sometimes, all it takes is putting a twist on the usual and getting creative with what you have on hand.

There are three basic principles I use when preparing or buying snacks for my kids. First, think of creating snacks from "everyday" ingredients such as fruits and vegetables, proteins, and whole grain-based foods rather than "sometimes" foods such as chips, and sugary and refined foods such as muffins and cookies. Second, keeping with the idea of a snack as a mini-meal, focus on how it can nourish your kids rather than simply fill their stomach so they stop complaining of hunger. And third, find snacks your children can help prepare — this will teach them how to feed themselves and help them develop a vested interest in eating what they make.

Creative mini-meals:

For the adventurous:

popcorn

Staples to keep on hand:

by Leika Suzumura, R.D., former PCC Nutrition Educator

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