A new school year has officially begun. Children, teachers and parents alike are excited for the learning, challenges and fun in store for the coming year. Learning is fueled by healthy meals and snacks, but healthy habits can be hard to develop. The SMART snacking tips below help parents teach kids healthy snacking habits - habits they will carry with them as they continue to grow and mature. Teaching kids healthy habits at a young age sets them up to successfully care for themselves as adults!
S: Structure - Plan to make snacks a part of the daily routine. Set a specific snack time, plan the foods you will serve at snack and stick to it! When kids know and trust that a snack will be served at roughly the same time every afternoon, they are less likely to snack casually throughout the afternoon or make impulsive choices to satisfy their hunger.
M: MyPlate - According to MyPlate, fruits and veggies should make up half your plate at meals, but the same goal applies to snacks as well! Plan snacks that pair fruits or veggies with foods kids already like. Some ideas include: String cheese + grapes Hummus + baby carrots + whole grain crackers Yogurt + sliced banana + granola Fruit smoothie + celery sticks + peanut butter Zucchini Muffins (see recipe below) + low-fat milk
A: Attitude - Kids have high energy and need nutrition to fuel their growing bodies and minds. Teach kids that snacking helps take care of their bodies by providing the energy and nutrients their bodies need. Model this attitude for kids by caring for yourself with a healthy snack too!
R: Roles - Parents and kids each have important jobs at snack time. Parents decide what, when and where the snack will be. They set up the snack structure and make sure it becomes a routine. Kids choose if they will eat the snack that day and how much they will eat. Keeping these roles allows kids to try new foods, enjoy favorite foods and provides the energy and nutrients their bodies need.
T: Try It! - Gently encourage kids to try new foods by serving new foods at snack once in a while. Pair new foods with foods that are kid favorites (like cheese or crackers) and be patient. You may have to serve a new food a few times before kids will even try it, but persistence will pay off! The more times kids are around a new food, the more likely they are to eventually try it and like it. You may be surprised at what your pickiest eater will taste and learn to enjoy eating.
These tips are not just for kids; adults benefit from healthy snacking habits too. Kids who see their parents modeling SMART snacking habits are more likely to become SMART snackers themselves. What better time to start a new routine than with the start of school? Be SMART when making choices to satisfy your back-to-school snack attack.
Makes: 24 servings All You Need: Nonstick cooking spray 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour 3/4 cup almond flour 1 cup packed brown sugar 3/4 cup oat or wheat bran 3 tablespoon chia or flax seeds 2 teaspoons baking soda 1 teaspoon baking powder 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon 2 large eggs, lightly beaten 3/4 cup buttermilk 1/3 cup cinnamon applesauce 2 tsp. vanilla extract 3 cups grated zucchini, drained (about 2 medium) Chopped walnuts, optional All You Do: Preheat oven to 350° F. Lightly coat mini muffin pan with cooking spray; set aside. In a large bowl, combine flours, brown sugar, oat bran, chia seeds, baking soda, baking powder and cinnamon; set aside. In another large bowl, combine eggs, buttermilk, applesauce and vanilla. Stir in zucchini, mixing just until combined. Stir in flour mixture just until combined. Do not over-stir. Spoon 1 tablespoon or batter into each muffin cup. If desired, top with walnuts. Bake for 12-14 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Let cool in pan on a wire rack for 5 minutes. Remove muffins to a wire rack. Cool completely. Repeat with remaining batter. Nutrition Facts per Serving: 110 calories; 3 g fat (0 g sat, 0 g trans); 15 mg cholesterol; 150 mg sodium; 20 g carbohydrate; 2 g fiber; 10 g sugar; 3 g protein. Source: Hy-Vee 2014 Back-to-school Seasons
Tracey Shaffer, RD, LD, is a Hy-Vee dietitian at the Blue Springs location The information provided should not be construed as professional medical advice. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.