Ever have this happen? Your kids come to you to say they are "absolutely starving," so you give them a bowl of Goldfish crackers or fruit or granola bar only to have them return 30 minutes later to say they are starving again?
We've all been there. And Jenny Favret, registered dietitian and nutritionist at Duke Children's Healthy Lifestyles Program, can tell you why it happens: It's because that bowl of Goldfish or granola bar are full of carbohydrates, not the protein and fat that will keep those tummies satisfied.
"It does need to be paired with the protein and fat," Favret said. "They've been given this snack that quickly turns to sugar and they are hungry."
I spoke with Favret earlier this week and shared some of her tips about healthy bagged school lunches. And, like those lunches, Favret said, snacks should also focus on not just whole grain carbs, but protein, fat and fiber.
Great snack options she shared include:
- Veggies like celery or carrots with peanut butter or dip.
- Fruit paired with cheese cubes or a handful of mixed nuts (any kind - salted, dry roasted, etc.).
- Greek yogurt, a great all-in-one snack especially when it's made with 2 percent or whole milk. She says fruited Greek yogurt is just fine.
- Boiled egg with some crackers and cheese.
- Mixed nuts and a variety of vegetables.
- Cottage cheese (one of my five-year-old's favorite foods) sprinkled with a little cinnamon, served with apple slices.
Thanks to crazy lunchtime schedules (one year, my daughter ate lunch at 10:30 a.m.), it's likely most kids will be pretty hungry once they get home from school. If they attend an after school program that offers carb-heavy snacks like crackers, fruit snacks or cookies, Favret suggests packing a healthier option for your kids.
It is important that kids aren't starving by the time dinner rolls around. That just leads to overeating and eating very quickly, both bad habits to pick up.
But you also don't want your kids grazing all afternoon, filling up on snacks and not being hungry for dinner. Make sure your kids aren't snacking out of boredom or because there's something yummy in the refrigerator that they can't resist, she said.
"Hunger is the correct reason to eat a snack," Favret said.
Favret shared this recipe from Chop Chop magazine, which she said is a great, healthy snack that's full of protein and also really easy to make with kids.
From Chop Chop magazine
1 can chickpeas, drained and rinsed with cold water
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 teaspoon salt
1⁄4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Roll your drained chickpeas on a layer of paper towels to make sure they are dry. Mix together the chickpeas, oil, salt and cayenne (if you use it) and then layer them on a baking sheet. Bake for about 25 to 35 minutes, stirring half way through. They should come out crunchy and golden brown. Let them cool for a bit. Then, dig in!
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