Summer is a busy time for most families kids are out of school, but camps and summertime activities keep people busy, often leading to eating on the go. Sometimes when people don’t plan ahead, less nutritious options are chosen, particularly for snacking. The great news is with a little planning, snacking can be a part of a balanced eating plan. Snacks that are portable and full of nutrients are best to maximize the nutrition of growing children.
According to a recent National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES), Americans are not consuming enough fruits and vegetables.1 “Pairing fruits and vegetables with protein, low-fat dairy, or whole grain not only helps close this gap, but also creates a more well-rounded snack”. Enjoy fresh, seasonal vegetables by cutting them up and dipping into hummus. It’s easy to add an extra punch of protein to the hummus by mashing up a hardboiled egg and mixing it in. Hummus already contains folate, vitamin B6, and iron, and the addition of an egg will supplement 13 essential nutrients along with the boost of high-quality protein. One egg provides a 4 year old with almost one-third of their protein requirements for the day. Hardboiled eggs also pair well with veggies or whole grains options (such as mini pita bread). See other ideas from MyPlate Snack Ideas. Keep a few of these foods on hand or in a cooler on the go and snacks are easy and convenient. Always remember to keep snacks age-appropriate.
Another tip is to get the family involved in snack planning and preparation. Farmers’ markets are very popular in the summer, so bring the kids and have them pick out their favorite vegetables. If kids are not familiar with the different types of vegetables available, have them pick out their favorite colors to make a colorful snack they will enjoy. Bell peppers, tomatoes, cucumber, and green beans are just a few of the fresh veggie options that peak during the summer months. Add more fun by using cookie cutters to make fun shaped snacks or even make it educational and discuss what other foods are the same colors.
These tips can be used for your own family, but also you can remind your clients that snacks can be part of a balanced diet and a great way to boost nutrients that may be missed during meals. Happy Snacking and make sure to tell us some of your favorite go to snacks!
- U.S. Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service. 2011. USDA National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference, Release 24. Nutrient Data Laboratory Home Page, http://www.ars.usda.gov/ba/bhnrc/ndl