I think this is my FAVORITE topic to write about. As a Registered Dietitian and mom of a 7- and 4-year-old, I know that summer snacks are VITAL. Not just nutritionally, but I have so many great memories as a kid of eating popsicles, chips, and huge watermelon slices while taking a break from running through sprinklers. I want my kids to feel that too. I also know what an exhausted, overheated, hangry child is like. I do everything I can to prevent that, while also having food on hand that they like.
Some basic ideas I keep in mind while choosing snacks, whether it be the beach, pool, vacation, road trip, or just your backyard - try to focus on fiber-filled foods (fruits, veggies, whole grains), protein, hydration, and fun!
- Fiber-filled foods. These help keep blood sugar stable and keep things regular. Think fruits, veggies, whole grains, like popcorn, whole wheat breads and cereals, nuts, and seeds.
- Fruits and veggies. Use dips, blend into smoothies, and make fruit salads. Dried fruit or fruit leather, made from whole fruit (without added sugar), is a great gummy-type of snack for kids that counts as fruit.
- Hydration. Maintain through water, flavored/sparkling water, 100% juice popsicles, smoothies, fruits and veggies. Use stainless steel bottles to keep drinks colder longer while on the go.
- Protein. May come from things like yogurt (try freezing yogurt sticks for a popsicle-like snack), hard boiled eggs, bean based chips or snap pea crisps, tuna packets, cheese sticks, beef jerky, nuts, and nut butters.
- Make it fun! Use fun containers or festive paper goods. Get the ice cream from the ice cream truck once in a while, and enjoy!