Healthy Summer Snacking
July 10, 2012 — children, dietician, eating, food city, healthy, information, nutrition, nuval, shopping, snacks, summer, Tips
With the kids out of school and summer now in full swing, it’s important to have our kids eat healthy and stay hydrated. So I sat down with Food City’s registered dietitian, Jessica Gourley, to ask her what she recommends for healthy snacking during the summer!
Now that our kids are out of school for the summer, what are some healthy snacks to keep at home?
The best snacks to keep around the house would be cut-up vegetables and fruits. If they are easily accessible then kids will be more likely to choose those items. Even better would be to put the cut-up fruits and vegetables in baggies that are portioned out. Another great snack option is granola bars. Choose a granola bar with a higher NuVal score (NuVal scores food on a scale from 1-100 with the higher the number, the more nutritious the food). The average score for a granola bar is a 19, so choosing above the average is a good place to start. Some other great snacks to keep on hand for kids are string cheese, peanut butter on toasted whole wheat waffles, low fat yogurt and hummus is a great dip for cut up vegetables. I also recommend popcorn mixed with nuts and dried fruit.
What ingredients can you substitute to make a healthier lunch?
Substituting hummus for mayonnaise in a sandwich or a wrap is my favorite! Hummus contains good fats instead of mayonnaise, which can have high amounts of saturated fats or trans fats. An easy lunch would be a whole wheat tortilla with hummus, low-fat ham, cucumbers, and spinach. Roll up and cut into pinwheels and the kids will love! Choose low-fat dairy products instead of whole fat or 2%. Greek yogurt can also be used in place of sour cream.
How do you recommend regulating our kids’ snack intake when food is so readily available at home during the summer?
Snacking isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but it really does depend on what kids are snacking on. I have to be careful about what I keep around the house. If I have potato chips in the pantry, I will eat them. So, unless it is a special occasion, I don’t keep them around. If you have more willpower than I do, you could keep small snack bags of baked chips around for a once every now and then treat. I also say to kids, “Ask yourself — are you really hungry, or are you bored?” You should also make sure they aren’t just thirsty or dehydrated. Sometimes dehydration can feel like hunger pains. Another idea is to set house rules such as no eating while watching TV, have your meals together sitting down, ask yourself the questions above, or even drink a glass of water and if you are still hungry then go for a cheese stick or fresh vegetables or fruits.
What are some snacks that we might think are healthy but really we should avoid?
First thing that popped into my head are snacks that claim to be fruit snacks. Most of them contain little to no fruit at all and can be just as high in empty calories as some candy. Some yogurts are also very deceiving. Certain brands of those “on the go” yogurts are low in fat but do contain a lot of calories and not a lot of health benefits. That’s where NuVal comes in handy again. Look for higher scoring yogurts, and you know you are safe. Trail mix can also be a really healthy snack as long as you watch the portion size. A large portion size of trail mix can have over 500 calories. Beware of multi-grain products. Just because a product is multi-grain does not mean it is “whole grain.” Look for those words as one of the first couple of ingredients to ensure that you are getting full nutritional benefit. If it is multi-grain, it can be different parts of a grain but it may not be the beneficial parts.
How should we make staying hydrated fun for our kids?
Cool water bottles usually do the trick. Take your kids shopping for a water bottle that they will love all summer long. The children will take pride in their bottle and take it with them wherever they go! Make a nice pitcher of water to keep in the fridge at all times and add your favorite fruit or vegetable to it for flavor. I recently had cucumber water at a party (water with sliced cucumbers-easy!) and it was so surprisingly refreshing that I couldn’t stop going back for more! Adding orange slices, lemon slices, strawberries, or raspberries to your pitcher of water is a nice change and makes it fun and flavorful!
What’s your favorite summer snack?
I have a few favorites actually. My all-time favorite summer snack is frozen grapes or blueberries. I grab a bowl, wash & dry my fruit, and then stick the bowl in the freezer. Coming in from the outside, you can grab a frozen grape and it will cool you down in no time! I recently discovered the beauty of making your own popsicles and it is simple! Pick your favorite fruit, put in a blender and blend until pourable, pour into popsicle mold, freeze! Poof! Your own popsicles! If you don’t have a popsicle mold, then grab some leftover yogurt containers and some wooden sticks and it is great! Then, let’s be honest … every now and then, I do go for the ice cream but I always go out to a local ice cream place and get a child’s size cup or cone and enjoy. Moderation is definitely the case in that instance!
Thanks, Jessica! For more snacking tips and lots of other healthy information, follow Jessica on Twitter. Happy snacking, everyone
- Katie Swanson, Power Shopper