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Introducing healthy treats and super snacks to children may take time, although it can pay off in helping to ward off childhood obesity and other problems. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, overweight children have a greater chance of developing health problems including sleep apnea, heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and several types of cancer during childhood and later in life. It can take eight to 10 tries before a new food is accepted, and getting your kids to try them may be as simple as letting them help with shopping and food preparation.

Letting Kids Help With Salad

Let your kids help you pick out and design the salad.
salad bowl with fresh salad and tomato image by Piter Pkruger from Fotolia.com

Kids enjoy helping in the kitchen and creating new things. You can apply this natural love of creativity and cooking into healthy and nutritious snacks they’ll enjoy. For example, instead of going to the store and picking out the vegetables you’ll be putting into a salad, let the kids help you pick them. While in the produce section or farmer’s market, guide the kids around the area and tell them what each vegetable they seem interested in is. You can do this with fruit salads as well. Once you’re ready to prepare the salad, let the kids help chop the vegetables, if they’re old enough. If they’re too young to handle a knife even with supervision, chop the vegetables for them and let them design the salad by putting in their own layers. Encourage them to make patterns out of the different colors, or even a smiley face on top of the salad.

Getting Creative With Snacks

Your child might eat more vegetables if they get to put them on a pizza.
pizza image by Claudio Calcagno from Fotolia.com

Getting enough fruits and vegetables or other healthy products into a child’s diet can be tricky. Kids can be turned off quickly by the run-of-the-mill vegetable and fruit selection you serve at lunch or dinner, as well as by whole-grain foods or something they see as “yucky.” Turn snack time into craft time. You can turn boring celery sticks into ants-on-a-log by filling the celery with all-natural peanut butter and topping with raisins. All-natural peanut butter is a healthy source of protein and healthy fats; however, conventional peanut butter is loaded with sugar.

Let your kids design their own mini-pizzas using bagels or English muffins as the crust. Choose a pizza or pasta sauce that has two servings of vegetables in it and top the pizzas with spinach, tomato slices, pepper slices or other vegetables of your children’s desires.

What’s Included in Healthy Treats and What’s Not

Organic eggs are an example of a whole food; you cook them as they are.
eggs image by timur1970 from Fotolia.com

Super snacks for kids have healthy amounts of fats, proteins and carbohydrates. Processed foods may seem healthy at first glance, particularly with the claims some products are putting on the front of the packaging. The nutrition label states everything, and sometimes debunks the claims on the front of the packaging. Stay away from products that have hydrogenated oils, artificial colors, or chemical preservatives. One way to stay away from these products is to purchase whole foods. Whole foods are those that are generally not processed or refined, although some have very little processing or refining before eating. These include healthy meats, eggs, vegetables, fruits, and whole grains.

Examples of Healthy Treats and Super Snacks

Top oatmeal with fresh fruit for a healthy treat.
oatmeal with brown sugar and blueberries image by David Smith from Fotolia.com

Use all-natural peanut butter as a dip for fruits and some vegetables including apples, carrots and celery. Sweeten oatmeal with all-natural applesauce and a sprinkle of cinnamon, then top with cut up apples, bananas or other fruits. Create a trail mix with unsweetened corn or rice cereal, unsalted sunflower seeds, raisins, and unsalted peanuts. Although you can commonly find these products pre-mixed on a shelf at your grocery store, you can stay away from added sugars, salt and preservatives if you make the products at home.

On August - 19 - 2012

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