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Summertime snack ideas for kids

June 17, 2013

Summer is here, which means more time spent at home (and in the kitchen), while kids are on summer break. Not only are parents’ concerned with finding ways to entertain their kids, but also with what to feed them.  And it always seems as if kids are hungrier in the summertime, as they have the freedom to “graze” all day long.

What, when, and how much

Snacking can be, and should be, a healthy part of any kid’s diet. But, it’s not just about what you feed your kids, it about when and how much. According to Kids Eat Right, an initiative of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics that focuses on kids’ nutrition, there are several scenarios in which snacking can actually be harmful to a child’s diet:
  • Unplanned, random snacking can lead to weight gain. This is one of the major contributing factors to the issue of childhood obesity, as kids have more access to food at all hours of the day.
  • When kids have the freedom to snack all day, and at any time of the day, the natural instinct that lets them know when they are hungry, or full, is disrupted.
However, snacks that are offered at the right time and in the right amount, can help kids achieve a healthy weight, as their bodies are continually growing and are in need of energy. Here are some guidelines for healthy snacking for kids:
  • Most kids, and teens, need to eat every three to four hours in order to achieve a healthy, balanced diet throughout the day.
  • For younger kids, this is equivalent to about three meals and two snacks a day.
  • Older kids need to eat three meals and at least one snack a day. Older kids who are going through a growth spurt, or are very physically active, may need two snacks a day to make up for the additional output of energy.
  • Consistency is key. A good rule of thumb is to offer a snack a few hours after one meal and one to two hours before the next. By doing this, kids are less likely to refuse food at mealtime, only to beg for snacks later, and will be ready for their next meal if snacking is limited beforehand.
  • Remember, it’s not just when kids snack, but how much they are eating during snack time. This guide is a great tool for parents, as it shows healthy snack portions based on various food groups for kids.

Snack ideas for kids

One advantage of kids spending more time at home while on summer break is that they tend to eat healthier at home, given they are not surrounded by the endless options of junk food found in the vending machines at school. Here are some healthy snack ideas for the whole family:
  • Ants on a log. Cut a piece of celery into segments, spread with peanut butter (or other nut butter of your choice), and top with raisins.
  • Fruit and dip. Cut up your favorite fruit, or a variety of fruit, and serve with a small portion of Greek yogurt, mixed with cinnamon and a drop of vanilla extract.
  • Keep in-season fruit on hand for a quick snack on the go! Summer fruits include: berries, cantaloupe, honeydew melon, grapefruit, watermelon, and peaches. For a full list of in-season produce, visit here.
  • Veggies and dip. Cut up an array of veggies and serve with a “homemade” ranch dip. Combine a packet a dry ranch mix with Greek yogurt for more staying power, as Greek yogurt has almost 2x the amount of protein as regular yogurt.
  • Craving chips? Think about dry-roasted edamame or soy nuts instead. You can still get the salty, crunchy goodness found in chips, with less fat and added fiber!
Want more snack ideas for the whole family? Check out our Arnold Palmer Hospital “Fun Eats for Kids” Pinterest board.

Summertime is a great time to teach kids about healthy eating habits. It’s important to replace junk food with healthy snack options, to help encourage healthy snacking at home. And remember, it’s not just kids who can practice healthy snacking habits as part of a healthy diet, but the whole family, too!

What are some healthy staples for snacking in your household?