I think most parents can tell you a story or two about this… you are out of the house, the children are hungry and want a sweet snack. There is nothing wrong with having a piece of chocolate every now and then but we know that too many sweet treats are unhealthy and we also want to make sure our children get all the vitamins they need. So we need to find healthy alternatives! Ideally, these should taste good too and be fun for the children. But how do I get my child to eat fruit and vegetables, ideally on a regular basis?
I have put together some ideas on how to make healthy snacks appealing for various scenarios relating to kids and food. Whether you are at home, on the go or at school or nursery, it’s always about choosing the right food to make sure their diet is healthy and balanced. Making sure that is enjoyable and fun too is always important! Don’t forget to encourage them to enjoy, taste and try food. Lecturing and moaning by the parents rarely achieves much. The best method is to get some new ideas to take the stress out of food and try something new.
I try to offer my children different dishes, products and tastes. My motto: “Don’t say “I don’t like it” until you’ve tried it”. Of course, we all have different preferences, but many of these habits are only developed over time and are based on the example set by our parents.
As parents, we are, of course, always role models in terms of what we buy, what we eat and what we cook… our children will copy that and learn from us. I think having a good balance is important. You should make sure that your diet is healthy for the majority of the time but also let kids have sweet treats from time to time and remember that this isn’t the end of the world.
So how should we offer healthy snacks in different situations and what might these snacks be?
I like to serve my children a colourful meal in the evenings. It’s quick to prepare and you can vary it. Children like to have a lot of different things on their plate to taste and try.
To make it more fun, I arrange everything in the shape of a “face” to decorate the plate. If you use this idea, your kids can gradually make the “hair, eyes and mouth” disappear. An arrangement like this includes, for example, sliced peppers, slices of cucumber, carrot sticks, bread with butter or cream cheese, plus small pieces of cheese, as well as sausage or salami, eggs and sliced fruit sometimes.
I also love special plates for kids which have bright patterns and different “compartments”. You can use one for bread, another for the topping and another for the fruit-based dessert.
We are all familiar with this scenario… as soon as you leave the house, someone says: “Mummy, I’m hungry!” That’s why I usually have a box of snacks with me when we go on a trip or when we’re in the car. That way, you can avoid having to buy sweets at the petrol station…
Apple and banana or sliced cucumber and carrot are the best options for this, but healthy crackers or homemade fruit slices are also popular snack options. It’s best not to take anything messy, liquid or too crumbly with you as this might make a mess in the car or get your child’s clothes too dirty while you are out and about. It’s a hassle if you have to wipe everything down or change their clothes. And you never have a change of clothes with you when you need it…
As soon as nursery starts, mums and dads are faced with the daily challenge of filling a lunch box with a variety of healthy snacks. What should I put in the lunch box? And what do kids like? And where do I get ideas for varied snacks every day? I got some tips from nutrition expert Ursula Vybiral. She has some great ideas about what makes a good snack and what a lunch box needs to contain:
Please do not give them any sweet treats… so no smoothies or squeezy pouches either! That’s just unnecessary sugar. Water is absolutely fine and much healthier!
You need to make snacking part of day-to-day life, otherwise sugar becomes too important. It is better to let them have some snacks in a controlled manner than have them start snacking in secret.
The system for the perfect snack uses a child-size handful as a measuring system: 1 child’s handful of fruit, 1 x raw vegetables, 1 x carbohydrate, e.g. bread, 1 x protein, e.g. spread, cheese or egg, 1/2 child’s handful of a snack item. Done!
As well as a great tart or a colourful birthday cake, I also like to prepare healthy nibbles and snacks for children’s parties. Just giving them chocolate, sweets and doughnuts makes them more of a handful! However, the kids also enjoy colourful fruit skewers, vegetable sticks and healthy muffins and these make great snacks. Everything is served on colourful plates and in patterned moulds. There are fun decorations all around and that adds the extra fun factor you need! It’s OK to trick them a little bit! 😉
Text and photos: Isabelle Flandorfer / Mother’s Finest www.mothersfinest.me