Healthy Snacks for Your Family: Something to Smile About

Editor’s Note from Smiles Dental: This post is written by guest blogger and Smiles Dental mom, Monique Tindall. She hopes that by sharing her personal dental stories, other parents understand the importance of dental health for their kids. Her articles take a look at the humorous side of teeth-brushing and dentist visits. Thanks for reading!

Providing healthy, quick and tasty snacks for three active kids can be quite challenging. Especially on those nights that there are events, practices and lessons to attend. Most “on-the-go” snacks in the store are full of refined carbohydrates and refined sugars and are not the best choices for your health.

Here are a few of our family’s favorite snacks that are healthy, quick and kid-approved!

Dried fruit and nuts are healthy while being quick and easy — plus, my kids love them. While we do prefer fresh fruit, they can pose a “mess” challenge on the go. So we found that freeze-dried fruit, dried apples and other dried fruit are a great solution. Trader Joe’s has a great dried fruit and nut section, and they carry freeze-dried fruit, too.

In our house, if you can dip it, squeeze it directly in your mouth or slather peanut butter on it, we have a snack winner. Baby carrots and cucumber slices with some ranch dressing are a quick and healthy snack. As soon as I unpack from shopping, I like to wash and cut veggies so they are ready to go. A bag of baby carrots and cherry tomatoes are another grab-and-go favorite snack. Baby Bells and Laughing Cow cheese go great with crackers and cut veggies.

Tubes of yogurt and squeeze-packs of apple sauce are great when you are heading out the door. Healthy brands with lower sugar are your best choice. As mentioned above, if it can be squeezed right into your mouth, we have a winner! We are trying these new fruit and veggie squeezes. I love to sneak veggies in anywhere I can.

Just say the word “jerky” and my kids are all over it. There are many choices in the supermarkets for jerky, but not all of them are healthy. Try to find ones that are free of high-fructose corn syrup, MSG and be careful with nitrates. The tastiest and the healthiest jerky is when you make it yourself. It is easy and there are many recipes online. This site has step-by-step directions and four jerky recipes.

We try to avoid buying potato chips, but we all crave that salt and crunch of chips sometimes. If you can relate, you may want to try kale chips. Kale has been acclaimed as a super-food and has many health benefits. Refer to them as “chips” and most kids are willing to try them. Plus, they are super easy to make and only require a cookie sheet, kale, olive oil and salt for a basic recipe. You can spice them up with any spice mix, garlic, taco seasonings or even ranch dressing mix.

Drinking water is one of the best choices you can make for your overall heath, including your teeth! A good rule of thumb is to drink half your body weight in ounces of water each day. Try taking a pitcher of water, add some cucumber slices, mint and lemon juice. I like to add a little stevia to make it sweet. Keep it in the fridge for a flavorful and refreshing drink any time of day. An option for water flavoring from the store is Mio. It gets the kids drinking more water, and the price point is really good when you look at how much it makes.

Our family created a meal called “Snacker.” This is a meal that is not quite dinner but is more than a snack and is great on those nights when you’re going to be on-the-go.

One of my go-to items is what we call “roll-ups.” Simply grab a string cheese and lunch meat. You can put some mayo or mustard on the meat and roll it around the cheese. You can also wrap it in a piece of lettuce or in a tortilla. Add some “Green Drink” (such as Evolution) and you have a well-balanced meal.

My kids love pizza. We like to use whole grain English muffins, store-bought pasta sauce, already shredded cheese and toppings of your choice to make personal pizzas. Next, put it in the toaster oven on broil until the cheese melts and you are ready to serve. We always have salad items cut and ready to go to be added to any Snacker main dish.

I hope these ideas inspire you to find things that are healthy and that your kids will love. Think about your child and what gets them excited about healthy foods. Be creative and smile.