By Hilary Kimes Bernstein, Contributing Writer
Looking for simple, nutritious snack solutions for your hungry children this summer?
Try fresh fruits and vegetables.
God has a marvelous way of creating snack food to be easily accessible and nourishing. You can curb your children’s hunger by letting them munch on something fresh and natural.
You don’t have to worry about getting all Pinteresty cute with your preparation and presentation. If you do, your kids would probably get a kick out of it. But I’ll be the first to admit I’ve never taken the extra time to create Bento Box-inspired little radish flowers or ladybugs made of cherry tomatoes and black olives.
Simple preparations – washing and cutting the produce into age-appropriate bites – are all you need. Or, in the case of bananas, just bring your snack along, peel and eat. It truly doesn’t get any simpler than that.
Learning from experience
I’ve found that my children are happy to fill their bellies with nutritious, fresh snacks because it’s all we have in our house. Because I don’t buy pre-packaged, processed snacks, we’re not tempted to eat them.
My kids do eat Goldfish crackers when they’re served in Sunday school, and they know their friends eat prepackaged granola bars and yogurt in a tube. They’re happy to try those splurges when they’re at playdates. But as long as I’m the mama serving the food, I stick to healthy snacks. By doing this, I’ve found that even the pickiest eaters find something fresh that they like to munch on.
I’ve become the mom who serves the healthy snacks partially because I wasn’t raised like that. I preferred Oreos to apples since they were served in my home.
When my babies were old enough to start solid foods, I wanted healthy eating to come naturally to them. I didn’t want them to have to battle unhealthy food preferences well into their adult years. So I stuck to real fruits and vegetables in order for the flavors to become familiar and their favorites. To this day, my 6-year-old son’s favorite foods are vegetables.
How to encourage your own children to eat healthy
Vegetables may not become your child’s favorite foods – and that’s OK. Just getting them to eat any vegetables may be a huge accomplishment in your family. Some fresh produce in a diet is better than nothing.
If you have the luxury of starting to feed your baby solid foods, start with simple mashed fruits or veggies. Mashed avocados or bananas are fantastic first foods. Slowly move on until you introduce a wide variety of fresh foods.
For older children, finicky eating habits could be pretty well-established. Yet it’s not impossible to help your son or daughter change. Just start small and expect a slow process. Keep trying.
If you don’t think your kiddos like veggies, watch what they’ll try when you serve a plate of baby carrots, cucumber slices, cherry tomatoes, bell pepper slices and snap peas. Most children I know would love to graze from a plate of blueberries, raspberries, sliced strawberries, chunks of melon, and apple slices.
One way to entice your children (or spouse) to eat healthier is to try a new fruit or vegetable as a family. Buy something you’ve never tasted before, cook it together and eat it. You may not care for the taste – or you may love it. Trying it is the only way you’ll find out.
If you don’t have time to prepare a platter of fresh produce, offer a simple choice like apple slices or carrot sticks. Your child will be happy to get to choose what he or she would like to eat, and you’ll be happy that the decision is a healthy one.
If at all possible, try to prep your veggies for snacking once you bring them home from the store or garden. Wash and cut vegetables, then store them in containers that are easy to grab from the fridge. It’s much easier to munch on celery, carrots or peppers when they’re ready to eat.
Be encouraged to keep introducing different vegetables just so your family can try a variety of foods. And if you’re really determined to curb processed food, you can do what I do – just stop buying it. If you only have healthy food in your fridge and cupboards, your family will eat when they get hungry.
Want some more snack ideas and recipes?
- 45 Real Food Snacks for Kids
- 10 On-the-Go Healthy Snack Ideas for Toddlers
- 101 Snacks for Your Husband On-the-Go
- 28 Delicious Grain Free Snack Ideas
- 7 Fun Seasonal Snacks (for summer)