SNACK ATTACK! THE BEST SNACKS FOR GROWING CHILDREN

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Ask any parent how their kids are doing, and you’re bound to hear something like this in reply…

“Oh, they’re great... they just won’t stop growing!”
“Our boys are already up to ‘here’ - soon they’ll be taller than me!”
“These kids are eating us out of house and home!”

If you’re a parent to a young child, tween or teen, you know exactly what we mean. You blink, and they’ve somehow grown 2 inches right in front of you. No sooner have you bought new school pants, they’ve moved up a shoe size overnight. Then there’s the issue of food: where on earth do they put it all!?

It’s really amazing to witness. And annoying. But mostly amazing.

Our kids grow at a ridiculous pace, so it’s no wonder they’re always hungry. They need the best fuel they can get during their formative years to grow up healthy and strong.
 


Why do growing kids need good, nourishing food?

Young bodies and brains need a lot of energy to develop, grow and thrive. Throw school, sports, extracurricular activities, playtime and fun ‘regular kid’ stuff into the equation, and you quickly come to understand why kids need so much fuel to function at their best.

Good nutrition is important at any age, but eating a healthy, nourishing diet while kids grow can help lay good foundations for future eating habits and nutritional knowledge. A healthy diet also supports their concentration, focus, good sleep, physical performance, even mental health.

When choosing snacks for your growing humans, whole, fresh, nutrient-dense foods are ideal. These are foods that hold the greatest amount and variety of nutrients, in relation to their calorie content. If your kids are constantly asking for snacks (completely normal most of the time, by the way), it’s possible that they might not be filling up with the best options. Try to offer foods that are as unprocessed and unrefined as possible, with lots of important nutrients, like protein, iron, calcium, potassium, fibre, B vitamins and carbohydrates.

The more kids snack on the good stuff, the less likely they’ll want to fill up on the not-so-healthy options. Their energy won’t spike and plummet with sugar highs and crashes, which means they’ll be able to keep up with the demands of their day - all thanks to the good food habits you are nurturing in them! Good job, mom and dad!
 


Here are 7 of the best snacks for your growing kids

1. Nuts and nut butters

Not only are they delicious, but nuts and nut butters are incredibly nutritious too - the perfect food for growing bodies. Packed with healthy fats, fibre, protein and antioxidants, nuts are an excellent, nutrient-dense source of goodness. Kids can enjoy them as they are, in muesli, granola, cookies, muffins or trail mix.

The wonderful world of nut butters doesn’t end with plain old peanut butter. Almond butter, creamy cashew nut butter, macadamia nut butter, homemade chocolate hazelnut spread - kids have plenty of options to choose from.
  • Spread over bread, toast, crackers or rice cakes for a tasty treat
  • Use nut butter in a tasty chicken stir fry or curry
  • Blend a spoon of nut butter into a smoothie with banana, milk and honey
  • Use as a dip for fresh apple or banana slices
*Make sure nuts are chopped or crushed for toddlers and young children to reduce risk of choking.


2. Yoghurt

Plain, full-fat yoghurt with healthy toppings makes an excellent snack option for kids, especially during homework time, exam prep or to carry them through between meals. It’s a good source of protein and calcium for growing bones. Yoghurts with live bacteria are excellent for their digestive systems too. Let your kids choose their favourite toppings to create a really fun snack!

Here are some topping ideas they might enjoy:
  • Berries and honey
  • Toasted almond flakes, coconut shavings and dark chocolate chips
  • Toasted granola and fresh fruit
  • Nut butters and honey
  • Homemade berry compotes
  • Sliced banana and honey
  • A spoon of Nutella

3. Lean meats

Lean meats like chicken, turkey and tuna are excellent sources of protein, which helps build and repair tissue in the body. They’re usually a source of iron and vitamin B12, and are generally lower in fat than other kinds of meat. They’re also excellent to help your kids feel fuller for longer during the day.

Lean meats are very easy to include in snacks and school lunches: sliced up and added to lunchboxes, wraps and sandwiches, tossed into fresh salads, or simply seasoned, grilled and enjoyed as bite size nibbles.


4. Oats
Oats are a gluten-free grain, and are loaded with antioxidants, vitamins and minerals, as well as carbohydrates, fibre and protein. Oats release energy into the body slowly, and they keep you feeling full for longer - ideal for that lengthy stretch between breakfast and first break at school.

Kids are usually big fans of sugar-coated cereals, so if that’s what yours are used to, switching to oats might be an adjustment. Add some Chia seed into your oats and you have added Omega 3 to support their brain development and function.  Oats are far from boring though, when sprinkled with the right toppings.

Here are a few yummy combos:
  • Dark chocolate chips and banana
  • Toasted nuts, honey and a splash of milk
  • Mixed berries and honey
  • Fresh seasonal fruit and toasted seeds
  • Dried peaches and Greek yoghurt
  • Toasted almonds, strawberries and dark chocolate chips
  • Vanilla, coconut flakes, toasted almonds, dark chocolate chips

5. Trail mix

Trail mix really is an amazing snack option for anyone, but especially for growing kids. A yummy, healthy blend of nuts, dried fruit and seeds is ideal to have around the house, in the car, on their desk, in their lunchboxes, wherever. A handful of trail mix is a handful of protein, fibre, calcium and other vitamins and minerals.

Let your kids make their own trail mix with their favourite choices:

Dried fruit: cranberries, dried mango, banana chips, Goji berries, raisins, sultanas, Turkish apricots, peach chunks, apple wedges
Nuts: almonds, cashews, macadamias, walnuts, hazelnuts, pecans, pistachios, Brazil nuts, peanuts 
Seeds: pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds
Fun stuff: coconut flakes, cacao nibs, dark chocolate chips, plain popcorn, pretzels


6. Cheese

What kid doesn’t love cheese? Dairy products are generally good sources of protein, calcium and good fats, and studies have indicated that full-fat dairy foods play a role in better overall diet quality in children. Cheese has also been linked to fewer tooth cavities in growing kids. Cheeses like cottage cheese are a great source of vitamin B12, which is important for proper growth and brain development.

Let your kids enjoy cheese as is, on crackers, in salads, on seed bread or wholewheat toast.

The healthiest cheeses are:
  • Mozzarella
  • Blue cheese
  • Feta cheese
  • Cottage cheese
  • Ricotta cheese
  • Parmesan
  • Swiss cheese
  • Cheddar cheese
  • Goats cheese

7. Smoothies

One of the easiest ways to pack a whole lot of goodness into one snack - a smoothie. Not only are they delicious and filling for kids, they’re also a great way to hide a few extra veggies when their backs are turned - think carrots, baby spinach, avo, kale, beetroot, etc. Kids always enjoy chopping and chucking their favourite fruits into a blender and flipping the switch. Again, always add flaxseed/linseed or chia seed to your smoothies for added Omega-3. Plus, all those bright colours make it really fun too.
Here are some of our favourite blends:


Fussy eaters: 5 ways to encourage new, healthier foods

Dealing with fussy or picky eating isn’t easy, but there are some research-backed ways to help normalise new foods and encourage your kids to try new things.

1.  Put less food on their plate:
This might seem counterintuitive when you want your kids to eat enough, but new foods can sometimes be stressful, especially for little ones. Too much food or too many options on a plate can be overwhelming. Start with small portions - they can always ask for more.

2.  Always serve ‘safe’ foods:
When serving something new, start small and serve it with other familiar foods they also enjoy. Even if they fill up on the usual bread or pasta, it’s ok. Persevere and keep serving the new options until they become familiar - your kids might just eventually try them.

3. Avoid power struggles:
“Your job is to let your child eat, not get your child to eat.” (from Feeding Littles) We all remember feeling forced to eat food we didn’t like as kids. It made mealtimes stressful and negative - no one was happy by the end of the meal. No one likes feeling forced, coaxed, pressured or nagged to do anything - kids and adults alike. Take the pressure off everyone and try to let go of control.

4. Let them choose:
It helps to understand that, little as they are, children are still in charge of their bodies - even what they put in their mouths. If we want them to be aware of their bodies, trust when they’re full, know what they enjoy or don’t enjoy, we need to trust them to choose what’s best from the options we serve them. As the parent, you decide what’s on the menu. Let your kids choose what and how much to eat.

5. 
Don’t talk about the food: Make mealtimes more about positive connections. Serve the meal with a neutral “here you go”, let everyone help themselves and simply enjoy being together at the table. Ask about their day, share an interesting story, tell a joke - you might be surprised by what kids will try when no one is obsessing about food.


Top 10 best snacks to pack for an outdoor outing picnic:

Picnics, hikes, beach hangs, nature adventures… Eating outdoors is always fun, and a great excuse to enjoy some extra yummy treats as a family. Snacks for your outings in the sun should be easy, interesting, nutrient-dense and fuss-free.

Here’s a list of our favourite options:
  1. Chip and dip: veggie chips, lentil chips, flavoured rice cakes, quinoa chips, pretzels and dips
  2. Crackers and toppings: assorted seed and whole-wheat crackers topped with low fat spreads, pâtés or cream cheese
  3. Lean meats: roast chicken or turkey, sliced or shredded
  4. Mini health wraps: brown or whole-wheat wraps filled with grilled veg, chicken, avo and salad, sliced and skewered into bite-size portions 
  5. Dried fruit bites: handfuls of dried fruit are always a treat - apricots, peaches, pears, mango bites, apple wedges, banana chips, pineapple
  6. Mixed nuts: a tub of roasted and salted nuts are loaded with nutrients and flavour
  7. Energy balls: date and nut energy balls or Fruity Rockets are always a hit with kids
  8. Fresh fruit slices: seasonal fruit sliced into easy-to-grab pieces, like mango, melon, apples, watermelon, pineapple, naartjie wedges, strawberries, and grapes
  9. Raw veggie spears and dip: easy-to-eat veggies like baby corn, carrots, sliced bell peppers, sugar snap peas and celery sticks dipped in tzatziki, guacamole or hummus
  10. No-bake energy bars: these high energy almond bars and double cashew honey bars are tasty and super healthy

We hope this blog has helped you with some ideas for fun, healthy snacking for your kids. Enjoy!


Get Snack Smart with Montagu

Making sure you are sorted for your kids’ daily snack attacks is what we do best! Our kids snack range is so much fun (for grownups too!), and our dried fruit, nut, seed and healthy snack options will have you inspired to take snacking to a new level for your growing kids. Check out our online store for convenient home deliveries, or find your nearest Montagu retail outlet here.
 
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