When it comes to snacks, the best options are those that combine great taste with good nutrition. With some simple tweaks, it can be easy for parents to provide an enjoyable snack that also delivers the essential nutrients kids need. Here are a few tips for your next snack time
Get creative. Play with the shapes and texture of fruits and vegetables to make them more appealing to children. Slice apples or other fruits into thin sections and then use a cookie cutter to make animal or flower shapes. Also, try adding vegetables, such as spinach or carrots, to fruit smoothies; this will provide a boost of nutrients without impacting the fruity flavor.
Try a twist on the traditional. Make everyday fruits exciting by freezing them or pairing them with dipping sauces. Grapes are a perfect warm weather snack when frozen, and both peanut butter and yogurt are protein-rich dips for apples and bananas.
Keep it simple. Make it easy to eat healthy foods by keeping convenient options on hand. Encourage children to eat vegetables with all-natural products, such as Dr. Praeger's Littles. These bite-size veggie pancakes come in fun shapes, are gluten-free, and are available in several varieties. If you are trying to get more protein in your kids' diets, check out Fishies from Dr. Praeger's. These bite-size minced fish nuggets can quickly and easily be cooked and served with a dipping sauce.
Let them choose. Make sure you always have a variety of snack choices available, and try to include your kids in the decision-making process. Children are more likely to eat healthy foods if they get to help choose and prepare them.
Lead by example. If your child sees you making healthy eating decisions and opting for wholesome foods, they are more likely to do the same. Show your kids that you eat the same foods you prepare for them and they'll be more willing to try those foods as well.
For more kid-friendly snacking tips and recipes like this veggie-filled mac and cheese, visit www.drpraegers.com.
Sweet Potato Mac and Cheese
Serves: 6 (1 1/4 cups per serving)
1/2 pound cooked elbow macaroni (about 7 cups); consider using whole wheat for an even healthier option
2 1/2 cups 2% milk
1/4 cup flour
2 teaspoons mustard powder, divided
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper, divided
3/4 teaspoon salt, divided
4 Dr. Praeger's Sweet Potato Pancakes, defrosted, uncooked and crumbled
6 ounces (1 1/2 cups) grated reduced-fat cheddar cheese
3 ounces (3/4 cup) grated reduced-fat Swiss or Gruyere cheese
1 cup whole grain bread crumbs
2 tablespoons olive oil
Spray 9-inch glass baking dish with cooking spray; set aside. Preheat oven to 350°F.
Combine milk, flour, mustard powder, half of cayenne pepper and half of salt in 4-quart saucepan; whisk until flour is dissolved.
Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to simmer. Whisk, stirring until mixture thickens, about 5 minutes.
Add sweet potato pancakes to mixture; whisk until smooth. Add cheese; stir until melted and mixture has thickened, about 1 to 2 minutes.
Add pasta to cheese mixture. Stir to combine; pour into reserved baking dish.
Combine bread crumbs, olive oil and remaining salt and cayenne pepper; sprinkle mixture evenly over pasta.
Bake until bread crumbs are browned and pasta is bubbling, 45 to 50 minutes.
Source: Dr. Praeger's Sensible Foods