Ricos Snacks for Back to School

Healthy snacks for back to school can keep picky eaters fueled up

By Susan Bowerman, MS, RD, CSSD
Published on LatinoLA: August 20, 2015

Ricos Snacks for Back to School

Active kids can burn through a lot of calories so much so, that it often seems there's no way to satisfy their appetites. Children who participate in sports may have intensive practices and games several times a week, burning through calories like there's no tomorrow.

When their appetites are out-of-control, it's tempting to let active children eat what they want thinking that they'll just 'burn it off'. And it's even more tempting to let them eat what they want when the kids are picky eaters. When kids are picky, they'll turn their noses up for all kinds of reasons foods that have strange odors, are too crisp, too soft, too tart or served at the wrong temperature are all candidates for rejection.

It's natural for kids to prefer foods that taste good and are high in calories. After all, their biology drives them to take in plenty of calories during times of rapid growth. But when kids are picky about what they'll eat, there's concern that their nutritional needs aren't being met.

And the concerns are valid. Kids' diets often fall short when it comes to providing enough calcium, iron and fiber, since they may not include enough dairy products, iron-rich whole grains and beans, or high fiber fruits and vegetables. And, when too many processed foods make up the diet, excess fats and sugars often tag along, too.

Getting kids to try new foods is a challenge though, so one way to work around the problem is encourage them to try new foods at snack time, rather than at meals. Since snacks are smaller than meals, kids can be offered smaller portions of new foods with the encouragement to try 'just a bite or two'. And when kids are hungry and running low on energy, they might be more likely to try something new in the form of a snack.

Snack time is also a good time to talk with kids about food nutrition. Kids who are serious about sports are often more receptive than others to trying new foods.
And when children understand that a healthy diet can help them perform at their best, it's often a lot easier to encourage them to take in more healthy foods.

It also helps to explain to kids that their bodies are like engines and, just like a car, their bodies need the right fuel every day in order to run properly. Their bodies need plenty of healthy carbohydrates from fruits, vegetables and grains (like whole grain breads, crackers, cereals or pasta) to provide the fuel they need. And remind kids that just as cars can run out of gas without small healthy snacks, the body could run out of gas, too.

The good news is that there are plenty of foods that kids enjoy that are also good for them. And they're foods that can be easily worked into the day in the form of snacks. Here are some top-rated snacks for that even the pickiest kids are likely to love.

Parents need to be good role models by eating and enjoying vegetables in front of their kids.

Kids are more likely to eat foods that they prepare, and most kids love to make fruit smoothies. Set out an array of ingredients like lowfat milk, fresh or frozen fruit, some protein powder, spices and vanilla and let them have fun making their own healthy treat.

Most kids like the smooth, creamy texture of yogurt, but rather than the sweetened, candy-colored versions, mix plain nonfat yogurt with a dab of honey or pure maple syrup and a dash of cinnamon. Serve with slices of fresh fruit to use as 'dippers'.

Getting kids to eat most vegetables is usually a challenge, but sweet, crunchy raw carrots are an exception. Kids like the little 'baby cut' carrots, and they're fun to eat plain, or dipped in fat-free ranch, salsa or guacamole.

Many kids turn their noses up at fish, but they will eat tuna salad. Try mixing canned light tuna with mashed avocado instead of mayonnaise and offer kids a small serving with some whole grain crackers so they can make their own mini-sandwiches.

Oatmeal isn't just for breakfast it makes a satisfying snack, too. Try preparing with milk, rather than water, to boost protein and calcium, and let kids add their own healthy toppings like diced bananas or apples, berries and cinnamon.

Crunchy and salty cravings are too often satisfied with chips. Instead, offer kids a handful of almonds, walnuts or pistachios that provide healthy fats, protein and minerals like zinc and magnesium.

Soup makes a great snack, and with so many healthy versions available on store shelves and in the freezer, there's bound to be one your child will like. You can even sneak in some extra veggies while you're heating to boost nutrition.

About Susan Bowerman, MS, RD, CSSD:
Herbalife Director of Nutrition Training, Susan Bowerman, is a Registered Dietitian and a Board-Certified Specialist in Sports Dietetics.
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