KN, CA, writes that when her grandchildren stay over, they don’t seem to eat well at dinnertime.
This is a common complaint with young children, whose appetites vary day-by-day and time of day. They may fuss over your favorite meals, or ”aren’t hungry” by the time dinner is served. If you can’t adjust the meals or the times of the meals to work for the children, preparing healthy snacks for them will give them the day’s nutrients they need.
Low-fat, low-sugar, and added veges, fruits, and protein foods can be accomplished with a little planning ahead. For meals, a rule of thumb is to have a protein, and fruit or vege, and a carbo (bread, cracker, grain, noodle, etc.). This can work for snacks, too. These can be added to:
- baked goods: Apples, raisins, carrots, zucchini, nuts, low-fat yogurt, peanut butter can be added to cookies and muffins; corn kernels and low-fat cheese added to corn muffins,
- grated veges and low-fat cheese added to pasta dishes,
- fruit, veges, yogurt for smoothies or frozen pops, and ripe bananas can be frozen by themselves (add a stick for easy holding),
- low-fat ranch, cottage cheese, or yogurt dressing for dipping with celery and carrot sticks; peanut butter on lettuce is delicious!,
- egg dishes, with added veges (whatever will “pass muster” with the kids),
- potato and sweet potato wedges can be baked crispy in the oven, with a little olive oil and salt,
- added egg and milk (use part-buttermilk, part-skim milk for superior taste) to pancakes and waffles, even the mixes that call only for water,
- tasty whole-grain waffles and breads, quesadillas, are available, to use as a base for a variety of toppings (i.e., hummus, peanut butter), (some whole-grain flours/breads are finely ground and tasty),
- agave syrup has begun a favorite of mine and can be found in most stores now. (My family prefer it to real maple syrup on pancakes and waffles, it’s not as watery as sugar-free syrup, and it is approved for diabetics.) It can be used to sweeten most dishes that need sweetening—including baked goods–just adjust the wet ingredients down a little to compensate for the liquid.
- Parents Magazine has some good ideas and recipes: www.parents.com/toddlers-preschoolers/feeding/healthy-eating/the-20-best-snacks-for-kids/