Not too long ago, I was talking to one of my co-workers about teaching children to make healthy food choices from an early age. She was telling me about how, despite her creative efforts to get her children to eat fruits and vegetables, they always come home from school requesting the latest and greatest packaged processed snack that their friends brought for lunch.
Hmm. A dilemma indeed. I’ve seen a few attempts to combat this recently. One is in the grocery store, where you might have noticed small bags of pre-sliced apples or chopped celery and carrot sticks with dip, sealed with a sticker of a smiling cartoon character. I don’t have kiddies of my own, so I’m not really in a position to say whether or not this type of marketing actually has been effective. But just as I expected, these pre-sliced snacks cost more than their regular, full-sized and un-Disney-fied versions. Sure they may be more convenient and look a little more fun, but I don’t think parents should have to pay more for prepared fruits and veggies when you can make healthy food fun at home yourself.
Case in point: Combine one of these….
….with some pineapple, honeydew, and cantaloupe melon….
Like I said, there are no kids in my house – well, except for me I suppose. I like to play with my food (and if it’s veggies we’re talking about, you can bet I’ll try to incorporate my spiralizer) so rather than stopping at fun shapes, I busted out a few skewers too. About 10 minutes later….
But wait, there’s more! As a kid, I remember my aunt always making the most delicious fruit dip from Fluffernutter (oh how my tastebuds have changed!) and a few other ingredients that I can’t remember. Rather than using the famous Fluff (which contains corn syrup, sugar syrup, and dyes), I made a healthier dip by blending together some frozen berries, a touch of vanilla, and plain Greek yogurt. For an extra boost, I also stirred in about 1 tsp of Progressive Nutritionals’ PhytoBerry, which is my favourite highly-concentrated powdered antioxidant supplement. It makes plain yogurt taste divine and is chock-full of fabulousness thanks to acai berries other high ORAC value fruits.
Provided your skewers aren’t too sharp (and you could cut the ends off if you have really little kids), this is a really easy snack to let them help out with. If you’ve got a little more time, here’s another one of my summer favourites:
I was allllllll about the popsicles last summer, and they were one of my go-to snacks when I was growing up. Did you know that popsicles were an accidental discovery back in 1905? According to this source:
The Popsicle was invented by an 11 year who kept it secret for 18 years. The inventor was Frank Epperson who, in 1905, left a mixture of powdered soda and water out on the porch, which contained a stir stick. That night, temperatures in San Francisco reached a record low. When he woke the next morning, he discovered that it had frozen to the stir stick, creating a fruit flavored ice treat that he humbly named the epsicle. 18 years later he patented it and called it the Popsicle.
Popsicle Pete was one of my besties when I was younger, but the classic popsicle isn’t exactly bursting with nutritional goodness. How can we fix this? You could blend fruit smoothie-style, or just stuff it straight into popsicle molds. Last summer I posted a recipe with full instructions, but here’s a quick visual demo.
Chopping the fruit…
… and stuffing the popsicle molds…
I try to fill them until there’s about 1cm left at the top, and smush in a little more just to fill up as many gaps as I can. Then, I top them up with iced green tea. Normally it’s a fruit flavoured one, but any iced tea will work. Since the fruit is already sweet, there’s no need to add a sugary juice.
Plunk the sticks in, and freeze for about 6 hours…
Run them under hot water, and you’ve got a lovely delicious and nutritious popsicle!
If you’re a parent looking for ways to help your kids get all the vitamins and nutritional goodies they need (without having to fight a battle with them when doing so), check out these links:
- 20 best snacks for kids from Parents.com – fruit and cheese kabobs, peanut butter and raspberry popsicles, yam-and-jam muffins… there are some creative ones here!
- 22 healthy kids snacks from Parenting.com – I’m especially intrigued by the ‘Healthy Whoopie Pies’ made with beets!
- Lunch ideas for toddlers from Parenting.com
- 8 more healthy ideas from Redbook.com, including homemade granola bars
So tell me…
- What snacks did you enjoy as a kid? Was nutrition as we think of it today as big of a deal to your parents as it is to you now?
- If you have children, do you have any creative ways to sneak fruits and veggies into their meals?