12 savvy snack selections for active kids

“Can you please provide  some tips and strategies for families with active children – feeding them pre and post workout, making sure they have quick nutritious choices for after school and before practice or other activities?” requests  Enlightened Eater Facebook fan, Sophia Verzosa.

iStock photo

iStock photo

Sophia, providing healthy eats for active kids can definitely be a challenge nowadays, especially when you consider the hectic schedules of many families. Between busy parents,  working  or juggling other endeavours, youngsters at different activities at various times, food choices may simply be grabbing whatever is available.  Put that together with many of the less than stellar nutrition options at various venues- chips, chocolate bars and the like in vending machines at local arenas – and the result may be less than desirable.

This is where the Boy Scout motto of  “Be prepared” is definitely key to success. Keep planning efforts to a minimum and post your snack menu on your fridge. It can speed up the preparation if you don’t have to spend time thinking about what to choose. As well, consult it while making up your shopping list so that you have everything on hand.

When you are mapping out savvy snack selections, there are a few matters to consider. For one, are you supplying snacks for your youngster alone or for a group? Either way, include your children in the planning. Between-meal eats can be key in helping children meet their nutritional needs, especially those with small appetites. So keep in mind that when youngsters are part of the process, they’re more likely to eat what’s on the menu.

But if you’re  participating in a car pool where you provide snacks for all, for example, you could have a diverse group of youngsters coming from homes with very different attitudes about nutrition.

Sometimes this may call for a little bit of marketing on your end. If a couple of kids are  used to junk food, you may have to resort to  a few sneaky tactics.

I did and it always worked. Food companies can health wash products to make them look healthier. I used to do the opposite to get the less than healthy eaters in my after-school carpools to buy into my healthy eats. Whole grain zucchini muffins with a few chocolate chips thrown in became chip cupcakes. The words zucchini, whole grain or even muffin were never mentioned. That was back when muffins did have a better nutritional rep.

Obviously I checked about allergies and food intolerances first.  But it really was quite amazing when I look back at what they would eat if the right names were used.

Snacks before activities should be substantial enough to fuel youngsters through the endeavours but not too heavy to slow them down.  Too little or imbalanced selections may leave a child hungry and tired –which can translate into an irritable one.

As for post-activity eats, it really depends on the timing. If it’s late afternoon, then the best choice may be to have dinner. Otherwise a combo of both protein and carbs can help to refuel and sustain them until dinnertime. Getting in some fluids may also be important depending on what the activity is. But keep in mind that fruits, vegetables, milk and yogurt all supply some fluid.

Here are a dozen smart snacking selections – some are portable while others are best for home.

•    Fruit kabobs or vegetables sticks and low-fat yogurt dip – for the fruit, mix   plain 1% or skim  Greek yogurt with a  few drops vanilla and a  little honey , to taste or mix in a little grainy mustard or a herb/ spice combo into the yogurt for a savoury yogurt option.

•    Prepared mini pita pizza (mini whole grain pitas, tomato sauce and grated cheese, veggies, optional) – warm in toaster or microwave

•    Homemade or prepared bean dip or guacamole and  baked whole grain tortilla chips.

•    Yogurt parfait: few tablespoons each dry layered whole grain cereal, dried fruit like blueberries, cranberries or raisins with low-fat yogurt

•    Small homemade whole grain muffin with skim or 1% milk or fortified low- fat non-dairy beverage

•    Fruit smoothie made with frozen berries and 1% or skim yogurt  or fortified low-fat non-dairy beverage

•    Cheese string and  apple

•    Whole grain rice cakes with tahina and finely chopped dates

•    Peanut butter (or alternative such as pea butter or soybutter), banana and raisins

•    Turkey or chicken wrap: small whole grain tortilla, shredded chicken or turkey plus lettuce and vegetables

•    Homemade or light microwave popcorn with shredded lower-fat  cheese

•    Edamame (soybeans) sprinkled with sesame seeds

What are your kids’ favourite in-between-meal eats? Please share in the comment section below.

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Categories: Children's Health, Tips and Tricks, Your Questions Answered

Author:Rosie Schwartz

Rosie Schwartz is a Toronto-based consulting dietitian and writer.

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2 Comments on “12 savvy snack selections for active kids”

  1. September 16, 2013 at 3:31 pm #

    This is right up my alley since I have two very active sons who like to grab quick snacks on the run. My older son trains about 18hrs a week and I’m always looking for good snacks to give him between school and training and then after training (sometimes late at night). He tends to be a bit picky, so I definitely needed new ideas. Lately, he’s taken a liking to those mini babybel cheeses (light version), granola bars and Bolthouse farms juices.


  2. September 19, 2013 at 7:29 am #

    Thanks for your comments, Marcy. I hope that your sons like these options! The mini Babybels are great- easy to transport for all ages! I would suggest skipping the cheese triangles as they don’t provide much protein.

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