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Do you have a fussy eater or simply struggle at times to ensure your children are eating a well-balanced, nutritional diet? The key is having healthy snacks readily available.
"As a parent and nutritionist, the quality of my daughter's diet is very important to me. I am aware many parents are in the same boat and are often left confused by clever marketing and an inundation of nutrition information."
Swap: bottled smoothies and flavoured milks for homemade smoothies
It's not hard to whip up a smoothie using milk/kefir as the base, yoghurt, fruit and optional nuts/seeds (if no allergy) and if necessary popping into a travel mug for an on-the-go snack. This kind of smoothie is higher in protein, healthy fats and a great way to tick off a serve of fruit, while also being lower in refined sugar compared to most store bought varieties.
Swap: processed cereals high in refined sugar for homemade muesli
Purchase a mix of wholegrains such as whole rolled oats, puffed quinoa, buckinis, amaranth and combine with seeds such as pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, hemp seeds, chia seeds, nuts of choice (if no allergy) and coconut flakes as the muesli base. To serve, soak overnight in milk, then in the morning stir through grated apple/pear and top with yoghurt and berries. This idea can also be made in little jars and eaten on the go or packed as a snack.
Zoe is passionate about eating well and helping people to love their food.
Swap: flavoured yoghurt for homemade fruit puree and yoghurt
Most commercial flavoured yoghurts are laden with added sugars. To help cut back on sugar, a simple idea is to mix natural Greek yoghurt with a homemade fruit puree such as berries or strawberries. Alternatively, for a yummy afternoon snack, blend frozen mango or other fruit with plain Greek yoghurt and top with toasted coconut. This is a good way to cut back on refined sugar yet still offer your kids a great tasting yoghurt!
Swap: cheese dip/stick and cracker packs for regular cheese and wholegrain/seed crackers
These sorts of products often contain a very processed form of cheese, which can also be lower in calcium compared to regular cheese. The crackers offered are also usually highly processed and low in wholegrains and fibre. For a more all round nutritious snack, stick to a slice of good quality cheese and pair this with some wholegrain brown rice crackers or seed crackers.
Zoe sharing a healthy lunch with her daughter, Emily.
Swap: chips for roasted chickpeas, fava beans or unsalted popcorn
If your kids are often on the hunt for a crunchy snack, try swapping chips for roasted chickpeas, fava beans or unsalted popcorn. From a nutritional perspective, these snacks are likely to be lower in sodium while offering more protein and fibre, making them a more satiating and healthy choice. Taste wise, they are as equally moreish!
Encourage healthy eating by getting your mini chef to help out in the kitchen.
Swap: pastries and cakes for homemade savoury muffins or pikelets
Pastries and cakes are full of refined sugar and trans fats, which aren't a good source of energy for kids. Instead, try swapping them for some homemade pikelets using a wholegrain flour such as wholemeal, spelt or buckwheat – top with nut butter (if no allergy), thick Greek yoghurt or homemade berry puree.
Savoury muffins using cheese and pumpkin can also be a popular pick with kids. Once again, for the base use wholegrain flour to bump up the fibre content. As a bonus, muffins and pikelets can be made in a large batch and frozen.