Filling the hungry with good things
By member Kristen Sherman, Muncie, Ind.
God has given us a variety of good foods. We all have favorites, as well as some foods we don’t like. It’s our job as parents and caregivers to offer healthy, nutritious options to the children in our lives. What they eat now helps establish their eating patterns for the rest of their lives. Below are a few easy, healthy and nutritious snack options to consider throughout the summer and beyond.
Fruit: Sweet, easily transportable and highly nutritious—with a wide array of choices, fruits have the perfect number of calories for an after-school or midday snack. Pair your favorite fruit with a small amount of cheese, nuts, nut butter, yogurt or a dessert-flavored hummus to add some protein for a perfectly satisfying snack. Experiment by coupling fruit with one of the options below.
Yogurt dip: This pairs nicely with apples, grapes, strawberries and more.
How to make it:
- 2 tablespoons of yogurt (flavored or plain)
- 2 tablespoons of whipped topping
- Mix together for one serving of fruit dip.
Chocolate hummus: Be adventurous! This tastes great with apples, bananas and anything else that pairs well with chocolate. Kids won’t know they’re getting extra protein and fiber—they'll just be thrilled to have chocolate dip.
How to make it:
- 15-ounce can of chick peas (can be slightly larger or smaller in amount), well-drained and rinsed
- ¼ cup cocoa powder
- ¼ cup maple syrup (adjust to taste)
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- ¼ cup of water
Put all ingredients in a blender and blend well until very smooth. You may need to scrape the sides of the blender several times to ensure everything is thoroughly pureed. It will take several minutes create the smooth texture you want, so be patient. At this point, taste it—you can add a bit more maple syrup if desired. Also, you may need to add another tablespoon or two of water to achieve the best dipping consistency. You can even add a scoop of peanut butter to make peanut butter and chocolate hummus. In addition to serving with fruit, you can offer hummus with graham crackers or pretzels for a delicious snack.
Chocolate peanut butter frozen banana: This is a satisfying, cool treat with just the right amount of sweet. It's loved by children and adults alike.
How to make it:
- 4 bananas
- Peanut butter for spreading on bananas
- 1 ½ cups dark chocolate chips
- 1/3 cup creamy peanut butter to be used for chocolate dip
Cut your bananas in half and insert a Popsicle stick in each banana. Place on a cookie sheet lined with waxed paper. Smear a thin layer of peanut butter along the entire length of each banana half. Freeze for three hours. Melt the chocolate and peanut butter in the microwave using 30-second intervals and stirring well after each 30 seconds until melted and smooth. Plunge each banana half into the melted chocolate mixture (a tall skinny cup works great) and return to the cookie sheet. Freeze another 30 minutes and enjoy!
Don’t like bananas or chocolate? Try doing an internet search for homemade fruit pops. You’ll find many creative, low-fat, low-sugar and fun-to-make recipes from which to choose.
Vegetables: These guys are packed full of vitamins and low in calories. When coupled with a protein rich food, they’re not only healthy, but satisfying as well. Try veggies with dip, hummus, a few cheese cubes or even with a small serving of cottage cheese.
Popcorn: Craving something salty rather than sweet? Consider popcorn, as it can lean either way. Kids love to watch it pop, so think about foregoing the microwave variety and using a popcorn maker.
Try it traditional style, with a sprinkle of sea salt and a small drizzle of butter or oil.
Add dried fruits such as cranberries or cherries, with mixed nuts as an option.
Melt chocolate and drizzle over popcorn. Place in the freezer for a few minutes to stiffen the chocolate before eating.
Add savory spices to butter or olive oil to enhance the flavor.
There’s an abundance of convenience food snack options competing with healthy choices. Convenience foods are quick and easy, but that about sums it up. Be wise with your snack choices. Be brave and try something new. Be pleased in knowing you satisfied and filled the hunger of the children in your life with healthy foods. Happy snacking!
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