Helpful tips for healthful snacks

July 28, 2004|EMILY TOADVINE

The children are home from school and they claim they are starved. What's the best option to hold them over until dinner? Do you break out the Oreos or try to sway them to eat something, let's say, more nutritious?

As members of a Danville-Boyle County Healthy Kids Coalition that has been meeting in Boyle County, Julie Steber, dietitian at the Boyle County Health Department, and Nancy Ricker, dietitian for McDowell Wellness Center, have come up with several snack ideas that will please children without filling them with sugar.

The dietitians gathered several children recently at the health department to show how easily the children could create the snacks and how much they would enjoy them. Several children enjoyed frozen yogurt pops that involved no more effort than putting a wood dessert stick through the foil lid and freezing.

Several 9-year-olds got together to test their blender skills with making Fruit'n'Juice Smoothies.


Amy Gammon, who works at the health department, brought her children, Amber and Micah Gay, as part of the smoothie-making team. She tries to tide them over until dinner with fruit, cheese and peanut butter.

"We don't get home until 6 o'clock, so I do say, 'Wait until supper.'"

Carole Burns also brought her three children, Tyler, 9, Connor, 6, and Sarah, 4, to the snack-making session. Her strategy for dealing with hungry children is not to have too much junk food in the house. She often is able to talk them into carrots instead of cookies.

"They just know they're hungry, so they'll just ask for what comes to mind."

Peanut butter is a favorite standby.

"Tyler is a big fan of sunflower seeds or pistachios. Or they like apples with peanut butter or celery with peanut butter."

Burns' children usually take their lunches to school, so she has lots of opportunities to try to jazz up their lunch box offerings. She tries to provide a vegetable or fruit to take with a sandwich. She may include ranch dressing for carrot sticks or bean dip with tortilla chips.

"It's hard to do much variety because it's peanut butter sandwiches a lot."

It's important to keep in mind that lunch only lasts 20 minutes.

"It's something they can eat quickly because they don't have a lot of time," she says, noting that she definitely peels oranges and pulls the sections apart to help speed things up.

For preparing lunches, Steber says some parents purchase Lunchables, but they could just as easily make their own kits with much lower sodium and fat. She suggests the Roast Beef Roll-Ups or Lettuce Roll-Ups.

Ricker says her teen-age children often like frozen juice bars for a snack, but she knows that many teens reach for a soda.

"So many kids are drinking soft drinks instead of milk and they're getting extra calories that lead to obesity."

One of the goals of the healthy kids coalition is more physical activity.

"We would love to see physical education offered every day like it used to be," Ricker says. "Kids tend to do better in their work if they get a little physical activity."

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