Healthy Snacks for Kids

Top nutrition experts recommend healthy (and tasty) treats-just what your child's body needs to focus on homework, rev up for soccer practice, or unwind for bed.
By Amy Pature

Before Homework
Go for something rich in fiber and protein and low in fat and sugar. This will help your kid stay sated and keep her from crashing as she masters long division, says pediatric registered dietitian Tara Harwood. Hot chocolate might be helpful, too: The scant amount of caffeine can raise endorphin levels, which promotes focus.
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-¾ cup vanilla yogurt with 1 sliced apple or pear for dipping

-1 cup hot chocolate

-½ cup wheat-squares cereal mixed with ¼ cup unsweetened dried fruit

-½ cup oatmeal topped with 2 teaspoons ground flaxseed and 1 teaspoon maple syrup

-2 slices whole-grain bread with 1 tablespoon natural peanut butter


Also See: 8 Ingenious Homework Help Sites


Before Sports
Choose a low-fat, carbohydrate-rich snack with a moderate amount of fiber (a whole-grain pretzel, whole-wheat graham crackers, unsweetened applesauce), says registered dietitian Amy Jamieson-Petonic: "It will be easy to digest and provide a steady source of energy." Water is also key and better than a calorie-laden sports drink, says pediatrician David McCormick. If your kid's not into water, try juicy clementines or an all-fruit ice pop.
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-3 whole-wheat graham crackers

-2 clementines or 1 cup strawberries

-1 large whole-grain pretzel twist

-½ cup unsweetened applesauce

-1 frozen all-fruit pop

Also See: Organizing Your Sports Equipment



Before Bed
Foods that contain tryptophan, like dairy and hummus, help produce serotonin, a calming hormone that can make your kiddo drowsy. For more impact, pair these snacks with sleep-promoting complex carbs, found in whole-grain cereals and breads, says clinical registered dietitian Roberta Anding. Keep portions small: The goal is to tide kids over, not charge them up.
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-½ cup skim milk and 1 small oatmeal cookie

-½ cup whole-grain cornflakes or crisped-rice cereal with ½ cup low-fat milk

-½ whole-grain pita with up to ¼ cup hummus

-½ cup cottage cheese with 3 dried apricots

-½ whole-grain English muffin with 1 ounce melted mozzarella or Swiss cheese

Also See: More Solutions to Your Child's Sleep Problems


The Experts
Roberta Anding, clinical registered dietitian and director of sports nutrition, adolescent medicine, and sports medicine at Baylor College of Medicine, Houston

Tara Harwood, pediatric registered dietitian at the Cleveland Clinic Children's Hospital, Cleveland

Amy Jamieson-Petonic, registered dietitian at the Cleveland Clinic, Cleveland

David McCormick, clinical professor of pediatrics at the University of Texas Medical Branch Galveston

Jennifer Shu, pediatrician in Atlanta and coauthor of Food Fights ($15, amazon.com)


You might also like:
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