August 02, 2012
How to Choose More Nutritious Back-to-School Treats They’ll Love
Walnuts, almonds, Wheat Thins, Cheerios, apricots and cranberries offer a variety of textures, flavors and nutrients that makes snacking healthy and delicious.
Photos: Nathan Kam
Show me a family that doesn’t enjoy snacking and I’ll show you a unicorn. Our family is no exception. My wife, Kelly, and I enjoy munching on chips, crackers, pretzels, nuts, crack seed, fruits, veggies, chocolate, ice cream, malasadas, custard pie, pickled mango … you name it, we love eating it. Our kids, Ensen, 5 years old and Avery, 2 years old, do, too. Monkey see, monkey do.
While Kelly and I are pretty liberal with what our kids can enjoy in between meals, we do have our limits. We keep a pretty tight watch on sugar intake, push fruits and vegetables and keep portion sizes reasonable. Do we let them indulge on the occasional shave ice, chips, and cookies from time to time? Of course, but when we’re at home or go holoholo, we do our best to choose more nutritious options to keep us satisfied.
Like thousands of others across the island, our kids begin heading back to school this week. Ensen says goodbye to preschool and hello to kindergarten, which he’s very excited about. This is also Avery’s final week at the sitter before she begins preschool. She too, is looking forward to being a “big girl” and going to school like her older brother.
Ensen is always up for a fresh batch of kale chips. A light, crisp and delicious alternative to regular potato chips.
So how do we plan to keep Ensen energized and fueled throughout his after-school program and Avery smiling during the car ride home? We’ve selected the following snacks for the kids to enjoy over the next couple weeks:
Nuts. Our kids enjoy eating all kinds of nuts, including walnuts and almonds. They provide essential fats the body needs in a wholesome form. Low in saturated fats and naturally cholesterol free, nuts are also rich in a variety of nutrients.
Wheat Thins. I loved eating these growing up and I still love them as an adult. And now, Ensen and Avery love these crisp, tasty treats that are actually good for them. There’s no high-fructose corn syrup and each 31g serving contains 11g of whole grains. According to the United States Department of Agriculture, eating grains reduces the risk of acquiring various diseases.
Original Cheerios. Our kids like them in milk or dry as a snack. Either way you prefer your cereal, your body is getting valuable soluble fiber, vitamins minerals that can reduce the risk of heart disease. We prefer the original Cheerios to the other more sugary varieties for obvious reasons.
Dried Fruits. When fresh fruits aren’t available, dried fruits offer a nice alternative. They also make for easy transport since you don’t have to worry about keeping them cold like you would apples, oranges or mangos. It also gives us an opportunity to expose Ensen and Avery to other types of fruits like apricots and cranberries. It’s important to note that dried fruit concentrates the nutrients and calories per serving versus its fresh form, so check the label if you’re watching your child’s weight.
Kale Chips. Since we started our home garden, the two kale plants have been quite productive. Our favorite way to eat this leafy green is to transform them into chips for a quick, nutritious snack. It has lots of fiber and is high in iron, Vitamin K and antioxidants. Simply cut the leaves off the stems, toss them lightly in olive oil, sprinkle some salt and pepper to taste and bake them in a 325-degree oven for about 20 minutes (or until crisp). Our entire family loves this snack, even those that claim they don’t eat vegetables.
We’re always in search of new tasty, nutritious snacks. How do you keep your kids healthy and energized throughout the school year? I appreciate your feedback and suggestions.
Nathan Kam is a Honolulu public-relations executive, husband and a proud daddy of two incredible kids, Ensen (5) and Avery (2), who enjoys cooking, gardening, traveling, blogging and golfing. You can reach him via email, Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn or via his personal Kam Family Blog.