5 Super Healthy Snacks for Kids

1. Air-popped popcorn

Popcorn is a great snack for kids. It’s rich in dietary fibre, to help promote good bowel health, and contains plenty of health-promoting antioxidants called ‘polyphenols’. The way you prepare your popcorn is of importance though.  Movie and pre-packed microwave popcorn for instance are very high in calories, unhealthy fats and salt. A large tub of movie popcorn can contain a whopping 1,500mg sodium – close to your daily recommended limit – a huge 60g of saturated fat, and as much as 1,200 calories, which is around three quarters of an adult’s daily recommended calorie intake. Air-popped popcorn with a little sea salt, however, is a healthy low calorie snack for kids.

 

2. Hummus

This healthy dip takes just minutes to make and it’s one of the healthiest snacks around. All you need is one can of chickpeas (drained) or better still cook up some dried chickpeas, 2 Tbsp of tahini, juice of a small lemon, 1-2 cloves of garlic and 1 Tbsp of either cold pressed olive or flaxseed oil (it’s cheaper and healthier to make your own hummus as some brands contain vegetable oils, too much salt and preservatives). Then blend all ingredients together until you have a smooth consistency. Hummus is an excellent source of protein and dietary fibre, as well as B vitamins, iron, zinc, calcium, and healthy unsaturated fats. Hummus is delicious with vegie sticks, wholegrain crackers, or on toast or as a butter alternative on sandwiches.

 

3. Trail mix

A trail mix of raw and unsalted nuts and seeds and dried fruit is highly nutritious snack for kids. Nuts and seeds are an excellent source of protein, which is not only important for supplying amino acids for children’s growth and development, but it will also help keep their blood sugar levels balanced and stop them wanting sugary foods. Nuts and seeds also contain calcium for strong bones, zinc for immune health, and beneficial unsaturated fats to support their nervous system function. Try making up your own combinations of almonds, walnuts, pecans, sunflower and pumpkin seeds, sun-dried apricots, apples, goji berries and dates. Dried fruits are rich in fibre. Sun-dried fruits are an even healthier choice as they are free from sulfur preservatives.

 

4. Yoghurt

Yoghurt is an extremely healthy snack for children, which provides plenty of important nutrients such as protein, calcium, vitamin D, and vitamin B12, which is needed for healthy nervous system function. Fermented foods such as yoghurt play a very important role in a child’s diet, being necessary for supporting and balancing their digestive systems and for promoting good immune function. Yoghurt is rich in probiotics, which are beneficial bacteria that help colonize the digestive tract. These beneficial bacteria are essential for good digestion, for increasing immune cells and immune function, and for the production of vital nutrients such as B12, A and K. A large percentage of our immune system is situated in our gut, so making sure that your child has a healthy balance of good bacteria in their gut will reduce their susceptibility to illness. Make sure you choose a good quality yoghurt, preferably organic, and one that doesn’t contain added sugars. Many supermarket brands contain up to 5 teaspoons of sugar in a small tub. For a super healthy snack mix some fresh fruit through yoghurt, to give it an extra antioxidant and vitamin C boost.

 

5. Fruit

Fresh fruits are an extremely important part of your child’s diet, and something that should always be added to your child’s lunchbox. Kids should enjoy a variety of different types and coloured fruits, and should aim to have around 2-3 pieces a day. Fruit is one of the best providers of vitamin C, beta-carotene, antioxidants, which all help protect our kids from illness and chronic disease such as cancer, diabetes and heart disease. Fruit is also a fantastic source of dietary fibre. Red and purple berries, grapes and watermelon are particularly rich in antioxidants; kiwi fruit and citrus fruits contain high levels of vitamin C; apricots, peaches and mangoes are excellent sources of beta-carotene; and bananas are packed with potassium and energy giving complex carbs.

 

Caution: Whole nuts, dried fruits, and popcorn can be a chocking hazard for very young children.

 

Healthy Brazil Nut Anzac Cookies

Aussies love an Anzac cookie!!! They are delicious, but unfortunately contain loads of sugar and fat. Try these lovely ‘healthy Brazil nut Anzac cookies’ I made with my kids today, ready for Anzac day tomorrow. They’re rich in beta-glucan, a type of fibre found in oats that helps lower cholesterol levels, and selenium, a potent antioxidant found in high levels in Brazil nuts. Coconut oil is a great oil to bake with that won’t turn into a harmful trans-fat.

 

Ingredients:

1 1/2 cups of rolled oats

1/2 cup of whole Brazil nuts

1/2 cup shredded dried coconut

2 Tablespoons organic raw honey

1/2 teaspoon of ground cinnamon

1 teaspoon of vanilla essence

2 1/2 Tablespoons of cold pressed coconut oil

1 Tablespoon of water

 

Method:

Preheat your oven to 150*C.

Put oats, coconut and Brazil nuts in your food processor and mix until combined.

Then add the honey, oil, vanilla essence and cinnamon and mix until well combined. Then add the water and mix again.

Place cookie mixture on a oven tray with grease proof paper. Try using a tablespoon of mixture for each cookie. Flatten down your cookies and then pop them in the oven for around 35-40 minutes.  Allow to cool and then tuck in 🙂

Makes around a dozen cookies.

Eat a Rainbow of colours for optimal health

When it comes to eating fruits and vegetables we should be thinking about more than just having our recommended 2 servings of fruit and 5 servings of vegies each day. Having a variety of different types and different colours is the key to getting maximum health benefit from our fruits and vegies. By enjoying these foods from each of the colour groups you will be getting an ultimate balance of potent antioxidants and phytonutrients that will protect you from chronic diseases and promote optimal health.

 

Red group including tomatoes, watermelon and pink grapefruit contains lycopene, which is a powerful antioxidant that protects against cancer, heart and lung disease.

 

Red/purple group including berries, red capsicum, red grapes and beetroot are rich in potent antioxidants called anthocyanins, which are anti-aging, and help prevent chronic illnesses such as cancer, heart disease as well as Alzheimer’s disease.

 

Green group including kale, broccoli, cabbage and brussel sprouts, contain sulfur compounds that help the liver detoxify carcinogens.

 

Yellow/green group including corn, avocado, honeydew melons and spinach are excellent sources of lutein and zeaxanthin, which are carotenoids that can help protect you from age-related eye conditions such as macular degeneration and cataracts.

 

White group including onions, garlic and leeks all contain allicin which have anti-cancerous and immune enhancing properties.

 

Orange group including pumpkin, apricots, carrots and sweet potato will help keep your eyes healthy and immune system strong, as they are rich in beta-carotene.

 

Orange/yellow group including oranges, papayas and pineapple are excellent sources of immune boosting vitamin C.

 

So next time your doing a grocery shop fill your trolley with lots of brightly coloured fruits and vegetables. Don’t just stick to your old favourites either. Why don’t you buy a new fruit or vegetable, that you haven’t tried before, each shop. Remember a diet full of variety and colour is important for good health.