Country Kitchen: Healthy Snacks for School and Home

Country Kitchen: Healthy Snacks for School and Home


By Mary Emma Allen

With the beginning of school, moms and dads are looking for healthy snacks to put in youngsters' lunches, have for recess time and at home. Snack foods too often result in the downfall of good nutrition and ideal weight.

The snacks one eats often lead to undesirable weight gains in youngsters and adults and overall poor nutrition. They can set up poor eating practices or establish good ones.

So snacks need to be considered from the viewpoint of nutritional value, calorie count, and the activity of the person eating them. Without an adult's teaching them the benefits of good nutrition and guiding them in their eating habits, youngsters often tend to want snacks that aren't beneficial to their health and weight.

Factors to Consider

Too often candy, cake, cookies, potato chips, etc. top the list of after school or recess snacks. Perhaps simply because they're handy to pack and youngsters don't complain when served them.

However, teach children to eat these in moderation for they're generally high in calories and lower in nutrition. Or look for those that are made with nutrition in mind being lower in fats and carbohydrates. Check the ingredients labels for snacks. There are many being made these days that do contain ingredients which favor good nutrition.

Desirable Snacks

Fruits rate high on the list of desirable snack foods - apples, oranges, bananas, peaches, pears, plums. Use canned or dried fruits when fresh ones aren't in season.

However, if you're watching the carbohydrates youngsters eat, check out the fruits that are high in sugar and starches and use the others for snacks.

Fruit juices are better than soda for a refreshing drink. Milk is good, too. However, remember, when you use flavorings, such as chocolate and strawberry, you add calories to the drink.

Water is a very good beverage and necessary to maintain life and good health.

Although carrot sticks and celery sticks aren't always a favorite on the snack list, they can be enhanced in appeal when accompanied by cheese and peanut butter. (There also are lower fat types of these spreads.)

Raisins and peanuts are good snack foods full of nutrition. Of course, the dry roasted peanuts are lower in calories than those roasted in oil. If your child does have peanut allergies, you'll, of course, have to look for snacks that don't contain this food or any form of it.

Snacks Before Dinner

When a youngster gets home from school starved, try a sandwich instead of sweets. Sandwich fillings such as tuna fish, cheese, peanut butter (without much jelly), or egg will supply protein.

Or serve crackers with peanut butter or cheese or a hard-boiled egg, or sliced meat.

If cookies have big appeal as a snack, try making types with the most food value and nourishment. Cookies with cereal ingredients, such as oatmeal and crispy rice, generally have more nutritional value than rich chocolate brownies and chocolate chip cookies. Adding wheat germ to the cereal cookie recipe also gives additional nutrition.

In these hectic days, packaged snacks take less time than homemade ones. I often wonder how my mom did it, as a busy farm wife, in those days before prepared snacks.

Before my sister and I were old enough to make lunches and bake snacks, Mother did all of this and had nutritious snacks for us to eat.

ICY FRUIT SHAKES have nutritional value. Blend in a mixer until smooth: 3 cubes ice, 3/4 cup milk, 1 tablespoon sugar, 1/2 teaspoon vanilla, and 1 ripe banana. Add other fruit such as strawberries, peaches, blueberries, etc. as desired.



Article (C) 2004 Mary Emma Allen

About the Author

Mary Emma Allen has been writing cooking columns for 40 years. She and her family compiled a cookbook to preserve their food heritage. She teaches workshops to show others how to do this, along with scrapbooking their family recipes. Visit her web site for more cooking articles. Contact her at me.allen@juno.com

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