School is back in full swing, which has parents and children alike waking up earlier and rushing out the door to try and make that first class before the bell rings.
And if you’re like most parents, you want what’s best for your kids. Part of that involves offering them nutritious foods that help build their memory, calm any butterflies, and finish that first project on time!
Why Nutrition Matters
Children grow up so fast, which is why the importance of good nutrition is an area that’s being focused on more and more.
Making good nutrition a priority in the early years can help set your children up for success, both physically and mentally. It’s a crucial time where your child’s body is quickly growing, developing neuron pathways for learning, and habits that will influence social and other personal areas of life (1).
Not quite convinced? Some of the other benefits quality nutrition provides your child include:
- Prevent tooth decay
- Maintaining a healthy weight
- Build strong bones
- Reduce anxiety or mood disorders
- Improve memory and learning abilities
These are all areas that set the stage for your child’s health, which is why providing healthy snack options can pay off down the road.
But all the information out there can be overwhelming. And let’s face it, kids can be picky eaters sometimes. That’s why it’s even more important to consider the advice of experts.
With the help of your child’s pediatrician, along with a certified nutritionist (if that’s an option for you), you and your child can work together to find snacks that not only taste good but are good for them.
Some of the key areas to focus on when it comes to your child’s nutritional needs are:
- DHA: This fatty acid is part of the Omega-3 family and can be found in cold water fish like salmon and mackerel. It’s an important nutrient for good eyesight and healthy brain development. Most children aren’t getting enough in their diets, and some studies suggest a correlation between low levels of DHA and behavior or learning issues (2).
- Protein: Your body relies heavily on protein, the very building blocks of your body. And kids are no different! Children who don’t get enough quality protein can experience things like fatigue, difficulty concentrating, increased risk for obesity, and slower or stunted growth (3).
- Carbohydrates: “Where does he get all that energy?” Is a question we all ask when we see rambunctious children zooming around the room. The truth is during these times of rapid growth, your child needs a steady amount of quality, unrefined carbohydrates to keep up with all that growth (4).
As you may have noticed, the key here is quality. While chips or popcorn might seem like a convenient snack option, these processed “foods” are doing nothing in terms of nourishing your child’s body.
But since children tend to prefer foods that taste good, what are some tasty, healthy back-to-school snack options you can have ready for your kids when they get home?
Here are 7 healthy back-to-school snack ideas that help satisfy your child’s hunger while fueling their mind. Many of these snack ideas can be enjoyed in vegan fashion – simply swap out the ingredients for vegan options!
1. Quinoa Tater Tots
While French fries are famous for their grease and salt, these quinoa tater tots are a delicious way to sneak in some extra veggies and protein (5).
2. DIY Trail Mix
Swap out the sugary M+Ms and salty pretzels for some high protein pumpkin seeds, raw almonds, dried cranberries, and perhaps a few mini squares of dark chocolate (6).
3. Spinach Hummus Dip
Grab some veggie sticks or baked pita chips and scoop up some delicious hummus made from chickpeas, spinach, garlic, and a dash of lemon (8).
4. Nut Butter and Jelly Bar
If your kids love a classic PB&J, this upgrade with rolled oats, coconut oil, and medjool dates will have them begging you for more (10)! You can also skip the jelly and use local, organic jams for this snack.
5. Vegan Blueberry Muffins
Who doesn’t love muffins? And these are even better when swapped out with coconut sugar, apple cider vinegar, and spelt flour (9).
6. Mediterranean Tostada
Got a few extra taco shells on hand? Crack them open and lay them flat on a plate. Spread some hummus on them, then top with any combination of olives, zucchini, cucumbers, tomatoes, and olive oil (7)! Delicious and nutritious.
7. Yogurt Parfait
Also a great choice for breakfast on-the-go, a healthy yogurt parfait with granola, fruit, and Greek yogurt can keep hunger pangs at bay until dinner time (11).
Things to Consider
Although you want to encourage your child to make smart food choices, remember that they are individuals with different needs.
Your child might make great choices one day but refuse to eat healthy snacks the next. Their stomachs are also smaller than yours, which means they might graze a little more than you’d like.
Focusing on the positive and being a role model of good health will help encourage your child to make better food choices more often. After all, you’re one of the most influential people in your child’s life. You can help set the tone for a healthy after school snacking experience.
Back to You
Healthy eating doesn’t have to be a drag. In fact, it can be quite fun when you realize how many possibilities there are!
Being a kid is hard work – their bodies are undergoing a massive amount of change and development all the time. And offering healthy back-to-school snack options can help make this process a whole lot smoother.
Next time your kids come home from school ready for a snack, be sure to keep this article saved to your Favorites list. Who knows, you might come to enjoy some of these even more than they do!
Know another parent who’s looking to offer healthier choices to their children? Share this with them today.
References & Disclaimer
✝✝This noted statement is based on independent research and is not necessarily the opinion of the author