Part of my summer school class that I am teaching to second through fourth graders entails nutrition. I have been using My Plate as a guide, but also incorporating my own tidbits of information.
How do you keep kids engaged when talking about fruits, vegetables, grains, protein, and dairy? Feed them snacks, of course! I really wanted them to see how easy and tasty healthy snacks could be, so throughout the four weeks I have shared some of my favorites.
Watermelon: The perfect summertime fruit. Cool, refreshing, and loaded with water!
Fun to eat, too! I cut the watermelon into round slices, then cut those slices into fourths. It made it incredibly easy to cut, hand out, and eat!
Dark Chocolate Almond Milk: I told them how dark chocolate has more antioxidants than milk or white, so dark is a better choice. Like all treats, even dark chocolate should be enjoyed in moderation. We also discussed how almond milk is an alternative to dairy. The kids loved it! I mean, how could you go wrong with chocolate? You can’t.
Orange Pops: Ideally, we would have squeezed our own orange juice, but for the sake of convenience, I bought a big jug of it. I did explain how I chose a natural, not from concentrate, no sugar added container of orange juice. All we did was pour some juice in a little dixie cup, stick in a popsicle stick, and let them freeze overnight.
The next day, you tear off the dixie cup (it comes off surprisingly easy) and wah-lah! Homemade orange popsicles. Another hit!
Cinnamon: Cinnamon can be used as a natural sweetener (read: you don’t have to pour extra sugar on top of already sweet foods!). I had one container of cinnamon and the kids LOVED using it. I’m not sure if it was completely the taste, the idea that it sweetens, or the act of pouring some cinnamon and passing it to their friends that they loved best, but once they started with it, they couldn’t stop!
Coconut Milk: Mild taste and another alternative to dairy, I let the kiddos try some coconut milk. Some liked it, others didn’t, and some thought it tasted like water.
Apple Slices & Almond Butter: Apples by themselves make great snacks, but pairing it with some healthy fats and protein is even better! Most of the kids had never tasted almond butter before, so I was happy to introduce them to that. I gave each child half an apple with a dollop of almond butter. Some children chose to sprinkle cinnamon on the apple slices, almond butter, or both!
Trader Joe’s O’s: Toasted whole grain oats. Cereal doesn’t have to be loaded with sugar to taste great. I really emphasized choosing whole grains over refined, and wanted to prove to them that there is no difference in taste, or it’s better. Of course they sprinkled cinnamon on, and we ate a small bowl for snack with some vanilla almond milk. Another hit!
Whole Grain Pretzels: Another “I told ya so” moment as kids realized that whole grain foods taste the same/better than traditional white stripped of nutrients.
Banana & Sunflower Seed Butter: While some kids had tasted almond butter before, none of the students had ever eaten sunflower seed butter. After they tried it (some were reluctant at first, I encouraged them to at least try), they commented, “It tastes like sunflower seeds!” Oh, the innocence of children. 🙂
Half a banana for some stellar carbs and a spoonful of sunflower seed butter for some added protein and fats. Fab snack! Sunflower seed butter is a wonderful alternative for kids with nut allergies as sunflowers are seeds, not nuts.
High Fiber Fruit & Nut Multigrain Medley: Purchased from Trader Joe’s, a great “cereal” loaded with fiber, not sugar! Again, kids had the option to sprinkle cinnamon, and we ate this with some vanilla soy milk (another alternative to cow’s milk that is packed with protein).
Banana Bar: For our end of summer school celebration, I set up a banana bar very similar to this one. Kids LOVE having a choice and variety! There is no picture because we are actually having the banana bar today. Students will have the option to top their banana with strawberry/vanilla/blueberry yogurt, sunflower seeds, cinnamon, and dark chocolate chips.
Chobani Champion Greek Yogurt: This was the highlight of our snacks at summer school! Since I’ve reviewed Chobani greek yogurt before, I contacted the kind souls at Chobani to tell them about my summer school class. They graciously sent an enormous package of each of their four flavors from their Chobani Champions line that is geared towards kids.
Chobani Champions are the perfect snack for kiddos! Not only are each and every one of their flavors amazing, they come in just the right size. Each cup packs 100 calories and 8 grams of protein. The kids LOVED them!
Thank you, Chobani, for your generosity and for sharing your Cho Love with us! Since we have good manners (aka: I ensure my students always display good manners when they’re with me), the kiddos wrote Chobani thank you notes that included lines like, “The verry berry was berry good!” And, “I’m going to ask my mom to buy me some Chobani!”
Those were all the snacks that we had during my Active Living + Healthy Eating = Happy Kids summer school class! The kids would have preferred to snack everyday, but I did have a budget to stick to. 🙂 Eating snacks in this class reinforced what I already knew: Kids like healthy food. It’s a matter of teaching them about it, letting them choose so they feel like they are in control, and making healthy food available.
Annette just wrote a great post about how to cure obesity. The bottom line is that parents need to educate themselves on what it means to eat healthy in order to instill a habit and patterns of making healthy choices. Sure, bags of chips and cookies are convenient and inexpensive, but there is NO replacement for the nutrition that fruits and vegetables pack. Not fruit juice, not fruit snacks, simply whole fruit! Ah, I could go on and on about this, but I’ll stop here before my soap box continues.
Obviously, healthy snacks are not just for kids. I chose these snacks because they are what I eat, too! (Ok so maybe I have never made the orange pops before, but I think I will now! ) If you’re a parent, please please please fuel your child with the nutrients he/she needs to live a long, healthy, and active life!
You tell me: What is YOUR favorite snack?