Finding Healthy Snacks Your Kids Will Eat
Feeding your kids, it can be a challenge. If you have picky eaters in your house, we empathize with you! It’s not easy. Foods they previously claim they loved suddenly disappear into the “I don’t like it” Bermuda Triangle of Food. It’s maddening! But we want our little ones to become well rounded healthy eaters so we don’t give up. Sometimes this means cooking two meals. Sometimes it means taking extra steps in effort to keep mealtime fun and to get our kids excited about trying new foods. So when my daughter’s daycare provider approached me over the Summer about starting to do a “cooking” class for the kids, despite my initial inner voice of introvert panic, of course, I couldn’t say no.
Keep it Creative
So how does one come up with a ‘cooking’ activity for a group of 3-4 year olds? Good question, but since I have lots of experience trying to feed my little tribe I knew a big key would be to keep it creative and keep it fun for the kids. With that goal in mind I began doing a little research and when I came across the following beach theme snacks, I knew I could do some sort of variation:
These were great starting points, but I knew I wanted to try to make it a little healthier so I decided to start with a base of yogurt and figured I could use blueberries to represent the water. Throw in some crushed vanilla wafers, a teddy graham, a gummy snack (or pretzel goldfish), a small piece of a fruit strip, and a cocktail umbrella and you have a fun little food activity for kids which ends up being a pretty decent snack. When we now fix this at home we substitute in our homemade granola for the crushed vanilla wafers to make it even a little healthier. Get creative and add some of your own ideas.
Here’s a look at our finished beach scene:
Since my older kids were home for the summer, we all went in for Beach Snack Day at the daycare and they were my little helpers. They enjoyed helping pass out items and helping the younger kids compose their beach scene so that ended up being a nice surprise bonus and all the daycare kids seemed to enjoy it. So I’m calling it a success!
The Back to School Transition
Now, all of my kids are back in school full or part time. It has been, to put it mildly, a bumpy re-entry to the school schedule. I think they had a pretty good summer and got used to getting up, playing games together, listening to audio books while building elaborate lego structures, and just not having anything we had to do or anywhere we had to be at a set time. This made the transition back to school tough. Not to mention they have gotten used to having a snack whenever they need it during the Summer and now when I pick them up from school they are usually starving. So, I’ve been trying to think of ways to help them reset and de-stress once they get home. One thing we are trying is having a creative snack and some sort of coloring/craft activity waiting for them as soon as they get home. This might be tough to pull that off everyday for the rest of the school year, but I think the first week or two it will definitely help with the transition from school to home and we’ll keep it going for as long and as often as we can. Today, I’m going our beach themed snack which they still seem to love and ask for often!
The Calming Power of Coloring
I’ve also taken to printing coloring pages out to go along with snack time. When I can I like tying the theme of the snack to the coloring activity; Here are a few coloring pages that went well with our beach snack:
Coloring seems to be calming after a long day. I’ve actually tried it myself with some of the adult coloring pages that are now so popular (http://www.easypeasyandfun.com/under-the-sea-coloring-pages-for-adults/). When printing one out for myself I inadvertently stumbled across a good trick for making some of the adult coloring pages kid friendly. I accidentally printed one out on a large scale so that only a quarter of the page printed out. Not what I meant to do, but it worked really well for my kids! The adult pages tend to be really intricate with really small and precise areas between the lines which some younger kids might find frustrating. So if you print some of these out for your kids then blowing them up to a larger scale turns out to be a helpful trick. Coloring time is lots of fun and has a calming effect on both me and my kids. You’re never too old or too young to color!
Since Beach Snack Day at the daycare, we’ve returned one other time for a 2nd “cooking” class with the kids which I’ll write about in a future post. It is definitely proving to be a fun challenge and serves as a good reminder of how well kids respond to creative activities and how this is a good tool all parents can use to their advantage when dealing with their picky eaters and trying to get them to eat healthy. I look forward to sharing more of our mealtime and snack time success stories in the future! What ideas are working with your young eaters?
And now the official Yogurt and Blueberry Beach Snack Recipe:
- Vanilla yogurt
- Crushed mini vanilla wafers (we often subsitute homemade granola)
- Frozen or fresh blueberries
- Cocktail umbrella
- Small piece of fruit by the foot or fruit strips
- Teddy graham
- Shark gummies and/or pretzel goldfish
- Spoon ¼-½ a cup of your favorite yogurt into a small clear plastic tumbler cup.
- Pour blueberries on half of the top of the yogurt.
- On the other half pour crushed nilla wafers or granola.
- Place strip of fruit by the foot on the cookie “sand” and put a bear on top of the “towel.”
- Add a cocktail umbrella and a gummy shark on top of the blueberry “water.”
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