A - M
You offer fruit. They beg for candy, cookies, chips -- and more candy. What's a health-conscious mom to do? Meet them halfway, with treats that are crunchy, appealing, and that satisfy their "fun" tooth too.
A Almonds are nutritional powerhouses: high in fiber, protein, vitamin E, calcium, riboflavin, copper, zinc, potassium, magnesium, and healthy monounsaturated fat. A small handful (about one ounce) is just the right amount for kids to munch on. (Note: Do not give nuts to children under 3; they can be a choking hazard.)
B Breakfast Bars are, admittedly, not as good for kids as a bowl of fortified cereal with milk is, but they're more portable and fun to eat. Health Valley brand contains 100 percent RDV (recommended daily value) of vitamin E and 25 percent of calcium, and it's low in fat too.
C Cheese is a great source of calcium and protein, and nearly every child loves it. But you already know that. What you may not realize is that low-fat American slices provide a full 25 percent RDV of calcium and five grams of protein. For a clever presentation, cut slices into shapes with assorted cookie cutters.
D Dried Cranberries, a.k.a. Craisins, are a great alternative to raisins. Sweet, tart, and ruby red, one-third cup provides two grams of fiber and 11 percent RDV of vitamin C. For a snack that will give kids energy to burn, mix them with pistachios or peanuts.
E Eggs are more fun when they're painted in rainbow shades. Hard-boil eggs, then peel and place them in a bowl of water tinted with foodcoloring. After ten minutes, remove eggs and store in the refrigerator. Voila -- a high-quality, protein-packed snack your kids will fight over.
F Fruit Rolls are all-time favorites, but they're not all created equal. The best of the batch is Sunkist 100% Fruit Rolls, enriched with vitamin C. They're sweetened with fruit-juice concentrate instead of corn syrup.
G Gogurt is yogurt in a tube, and trust us: The funky packaging will have kids begging for more. One tube contains 10 percent RDV of calcium, and Gogurt has the LAC (live active cultures) seal, an indication that the product contains live, friendly bacteria, to aid digestion.
H Hummus and veggies are a match made in heaven. Kids love dips, and this one, made from pureed chickpeas and sesame seeds, is high in protein (two grams per two-ounce serving), vitamins B6 and C, and potassium. Smooth and mild-tasting, it's great for dunking assorted veggies.
I Ices are an ideal choice- if they're homemade. Pour 100 percent fruit juice into small plastic cups and freeze. (Insert Popsicle sticks before juice freezes completely.) For extra nutrition, drop a whole strawberry into each cup.
J Jelly spread on rice cakes is ho-hum, but a tower of mini rice cakes with jelly in between is an edible construction project -- and a nearly fat-free snack.
K Kosher Pickle Spears wrapped in deli-counter turkey slices make an excellent between-meal treat. An ounce of turkey provides 10 percent RDV of niacin, 7 percent of vitamin B6, and eight grams of protein. Pickles, though high in sodium, are basically fat- and calorie-free and make bland foods (such as turkey) more appealing.
L Low-fat Chocolate Milk isn't news -- but chocolate slushees are! Freeze in ice-cube trays and blend to make a delicious drink that contains 30 percent RDV of calcium, eight grams of protein, and only five grams of fat.
M Multigrain Toaster Waffles are lightly sweet, and some brands contain two grams of fiber per waffle. Spread with Nutella (a chocolate-hazelnut spread found next to the peanut butter in the supermarket) and fold in half for a dessertlike snack that's neat to eat.
N - Z
N Nibblers are frozen half ears of corn. Kids will get a kick out of them, and they're just the right size for little hands and between-meal appetites. Pop 'em in the microwave to heat.
O Oatmeal Cookies are an excellent treat for your little cookie monsters. Check the health-food section of your supermarket -- not the cookie aisle -- for brands that are low-fat and high-fiber.
P Pizza Rolls are just the ticket when the kids are craving a slice between meals. Pop these bite-size pockets of crispy dough with pizza filling in the microwave and they'll be ready in less than a minute. Totino's brand contains nine grams of protein per serving.
Q Quick Soups in cups are comforting on cold days and come in a wide range of flavors. Seek out lower-sodium, all-natural brands (such as Fantastic, Nile, and Health Valley), which contain fiber. Surprise the kids by floating a few pretzel goldfish on top.
R Rice-and-Marshmallow treats by Hain contain no additives or artificial flavors. They come in two varieties: regular and with chocolate chips.
S Sweet-Potato Chips are a more nutritious alternative to standard chips. Terra Chips are lightly spiced and contain 80 percent RDV of vitamin A and three grams of fiber in a one-ounce serving.
T Tortillas are a Mexican snack food. Soften a small corn or flour tortilla in the microwave, top with shredded cheese, salsa, and a sprinkling of vitamin-E-packed toasted sunflower seeds, and roll tightly.
U Upside-Down Cake is a homey treat and can be made in less than ten minutes. Place one drained pineapple ring in a custard cup. Spread half a blueberry muffin with apple butter or jam and place over fruit; pop in the toaster oven for five minutes. Invert muffins onto plates. The pineapple contains 10 percent RDV of vitamin C, and the muffin provides complex carbs.
V Vegetable Egg Rolls may be unusual, but your kids will love them. Perfect anytime, egg rolls, in the freezer section of the supermarket, are full of veggies. Look for an additive-free brand (such as Health Is Wealth).
W Whole-Wheat English Muffins are a smart switch from the traditional kind. Enriched with minerals, iron, and fiber, they make a perfect snack when toasted and spread with protein-rich peanut butter. Top with a teaspoon of chocolate sprinkles for extra kid appeal.
X X-change a 300-calorie candy bar for a Bananarama: Cut a banana in half, skewer on a Popsicle stick, drizzle with fudge sauce, sprinkle with nuts, and freeze. Half a banana provides 220 milligrams of potassium and 15 percent RDV of vitamin B6.
Y Yummy pudding (chocolate, vanilla, or butterscotch) gets a calcium boost when you add two tablespoons of dry-milk powder to the dry mix before stirring in milk.
Z Zucchini bread may not be loaded with zucchini, but it is a step up from pound cake nutritionwise. Slice thinly, toast, and spread with light cream cheese.
Copyright © 2000 Stephanie Grozdea. Reprinted with permission from the January 2000 issue of Parents magazine.
All content here, including advice from doctors and other health professionals, should be considered as opinion only. Always seek the direct advice of your own doctor in connection with any questions or issues you may have regarding your own health or the health of others.