It’s our new series, Swap It Out Sunday! In this series, we’ll give you healthier alternatives to foods that are not so great for your family. Today’s edition features alternatives to kids’ favorite snacks.
What exactly is a snack? A smaller version of a meal? Something crunchy? Something hand-held? Kids are especially in need of snacks as they are always on the move and using their brain and bodies at all moments of the day. Their smaller stomachs also make it harder for them to consume large portions, making them hungry regularly throughout the day.
We absolutely want to give our kids snacks, and want to ensure they are truly healthy and filling. Of the thousands of items available in the super market, many are marketed specifically as snack items (fruit snacks, snack packs of chips, Lunchables snacks), but many of these options are loaded with sugar, salt, and processed grains.
Here are a few snack items commonly eaten and a few healthier options, which will keep your kids fuller, longer.:
Annie’s Organic Berry Patch Flavor Fruit Snacks
10 grams of sugar in each ½ oz. pouch, containing about 10 bunnies.
The first 5 ingredients are all various forms of sugar- Organic Tapioca Syrup, Organic Cane Sugar, Organic Tapioca Syrup Solids, Organic White Grape Juice Concentrate, Pectin
(Keep in mind that organic does not mean healthy! Yes, the sugar in these snacks is organic, but sugar is still sugar, no matter the type.
Instead- Try some regular, sliced up fruit! Mix strawberries, grapes, blueberries, and raspberries in a small Tupperware (so they don’t get squished) for a much healthier, more filling option, packed with vitamins, minerals, and fiber.
Keebler Gripz Deluxe Cookie Snack Packs
8 grams of sugar in each ½ oz. pouch, containing about 20 teeny- tiny cookies
Ingredients include: Enriched unbleached flour, sugar, chocolate, high fructose corn syrup, & molasses
Instead- A fun trail mix. Make your own using: unsweetened raisins, dried dates, unsalted nuts (pecans, peanuts, almonds) and unsalted seeds (sunflower and pumpkin) for a fiber-rich, omega-3 filled snack. Avoid adding sweetened dried fruits, such as cranberries and blueberries.
Multi grain Ritz Crackers
2 grams of sugar and less than 1 gram of fiber for every 5 crackers
Ingredients include: Enriched unbleached flour, sugar, partially hydrogenated vegetable oil, high fructose corn syrup.
Instead- Original triscuits
0 grams of sugar and 3 grams of fiber for every 6 crackers.
Ingredients are simply whole grain wheat, soybean oil, and salt. J
Pair them with low sodium mozzarella cheese, a healthy chickpea, tuna, or chicken salad for a hearty, high fiber, filling snack.
Nature Valley Crunchy Oats N Honey Granola Bar
11 grams of sugar and only 2 grams fiber per pack of 2 bars
Ingredients include: sugar, honey, salt, brown sugar syrup, and baking soda (salt)
Instead- Peanut Butter Cookie Lara Bar
4+ grams of fiber per bar and no added sugar makes these bars a wonderful, filling snack, complete with protein, fiber, and natural sugars.
Most flavors are made with very simple ingredients- dates, unsalted nuts, and unsweetened fruits. We recommend avoiding the flavors made with chocolate chips and juice.
By Dahlia Marin, Registered Dietitian Nutritionist