13.APR.2017 7 MIN READ | 7 MIN READ

If you have children, you’re surely no stranger to snack time. An important part of a child’s diet, snacks serve to manage hunger, fill nutrient gaps, and boost their well-being (if you choose healthy snacks, that is!).

Last updated on 8 April 2021

Preparing healthy snacks daily can be a challenge. On some days, you may find yourself struggling to serve up a decent snack. Fortunately, snack time doesn’t have to be complicated. In fact, snacks can be healthy, simple, and fast to prepare. Jennifer Shim, dietitian at Parkway East Hospital suggest some fuss-free snack ideas such as:

  • Crackers or bread with melted cheese – To make it healthier, opt for wholegrain crackers/bread and low-fat cheese.
  • Egg sandwich – Similarly, opt for wholemeal bread. To delight your child, cut the bread into fun shapes!
  • Cereal with dried fruits and nuts – This is best served to older children as there is a risk of choking in younger children.
  • Fruit with dip – Apples and peanut butter go great together! Or you can try pairing fruits and yoghurt.

However, if you find yourself needing an afternoon activity to engage your children, involving them in the preparation of their snack will both entertain and educate them. A great bonding activity, it can spark their interest to try out food that they’re not usually interested in.

Here are 6 simple dietitian-approved recipes which you can try with your little (or not-so-little) ones. Assign them tasks that are within their means!

1. Ricotta blueberry banana crackers

Ricotta blueberry banana crackers

Perk up plain old cheese and crackers with delicious blueberries which is high in fibre, vitamin C and manganese, and potassium-rich bananas for a healthy snack. The sweetness of the fruits is a yummy counterpart to creamy ricotta which is rich in whey protein for muscle growth.

Ingredients:
4 thin crackers
1½ tablespoon of fresh ricotta
1 small banana
2 tablespoons of blueberries

Method:
1. Peel and slice the banana.
2. Spread the ricotta evenly on the crackers.
3. Top with banana and blueberries.
4. Serve and enjoy.

(Recipe adapted from www.taste.com.au)

2. Fruit yoghurt parfait

Fruit yoghurt parfait

Who says kids’ snacks can’t be sophisticated? This simple dish looks lovely in a clear vessel. Simply layer your chosen ingredients so you get a lovely mix of yoghurt, fruit and cereal with every spoonful. While you can choose your favourite fruits, this recipe uses kiwi for its high fibre and vitamin C content and bananas which provides nutritious plant compounds such as dopamine and catechin as well as potassium and vitamin B6.

Ingredients:
½ cup of low-fat yoghurt
½ a small banana
½ a kiwi
2 tablespoons of plain cornflakes

Method:
1. Peel and dice the kiwi.
2. Peel and slice the banana.
3. Spoon 2 tablespoons of yoghurt into the bottom of a glass.
4. Add the banana and kiwi into the glass.
5. Add the remaining yoghurt.
6. Top with cornflakes.
7. Serve immediately.

Alternatively, you can freeze the snack after step 5. Top with cornflakes immediately before eating for that satisfying crunch. 

3. Oven-roasted sweet potato wedges

Oven-roasted sweet potato wedges

Give regular potato wedges an upgrade by using flavourful sweet potatoes instead. It provides a healthy dose of soluble and insoluble fibre for healthy digestion, lots of vitamin A for healthy eyes and antioxidants as well, which help to fight free radicals.

Ingredients:
3 small sweet potatoes
1½ tablespoons of olive oil
1 clove of garlic, minced
2 teaspoons minced rosemary or thyme
½ teaspoon salt

Method:
1. Preheat oven to 450°C.
2. Peel the sweet potatoes and cut them into wedges.
3. Add all the ingredients into a large bowl. Toss and mix well.
4. Place the wedges on a baking sheet. Bake at 450°C for 30 minutes.
5. Serve immediately.

4. Fruit pizza

Fruit pizza

Pizzas can be healthy too! Using watermelon slices instead of a dough base gives kids a healthy dose of antioxidants including vitamins C, carotenoids and lycopene. When you add yummy bananas, blueberries and strawberries (or whatever fruits you favour), it becomes a powerhouse of vitamins, minerals and fibre which contribute to healthy growth and development. Plus, in hot weather, watermelon’s high water content helps to keep kids hydrated.

Ingredients:
½ a watermelon, cut vertically
1 kiwi fruit
1 small banana
½ cup of low-fat yoghurt
4 strawberries
¼ cup of blueberries

Method:
1. Dice the strawberries.
2. Peel and dice the kiwi fruit.
3. Peel and slice the banana.
4. Cut a slice of watermelon of 2cm thickness.
5. Cut the slice of watermelon into 8 equal wedges.
6. Serve immediately.

Feel free to replace or omit the ingredients in the recipe to suit your taste. For a lovely cool snack on a hot afternoon, use chilled fruits.

(Recipe adapted from www.taste.com.au)

5. Fruit pops

Fruit pops

Make hot days more bearable with some refreshing fruit popsicles. Blend yoghurt with blueberries or strawberries for a bright, berry-licious treat, use bananas for a creamier flavour or any fruit you prefer. With lots of vitamin C, fibre and minerals like manganese and potassium, it’s definitely more nutrient-packed than conventional ice-cream!

Ingredients:
2 cups of blueberries, sliced strawberries and sliced bananas
2 cups of low-fat yogurt
8 paper cups and ice cream sticks
8 paper or plastic cups and ice cream sticks

Method:
1. Place the mixed fruits and yoghurt into a blender.
2. Blend until the mixture is smooth (or as chunky as desired).
3. Fill the paper or plastic cups with fruit mixture.
4. Cover the top of each cup with a strip of aluminium foil. Poke an ice cream stick through the centre of each cup.
5. Place in the freezer for 5 hours.
6. To serve, remove the foil, turn the paper cup upside down and peel off the paper cup.

(Recipe adapted from www.allrecipes.com)

6. Sliced pears with ricotta cheese

Sliced pears with ricotta cheese

Like many fruits, pears are rich in vitamins and fibre. It also provides a rich array of minerals such as copper, which helps with cholesterol metabolism and brain and nerve development; potassium which is important for muscle contractions and fibre for healthy digestion.

Enjoy this grown-up snack with protein-rich ricotta, almonds for vitamin E and honey for a host of antioxidants.

Ingredients:
⅓ cup whole-milk ricotta
2 teaspoons honey, with more for drizzling
2 slices multigrain bread, toasted
1 medium pear, thinly sliced
3 tablespoons unsalted, roasted sliced almonds
Pinch of salt

Method:
1. Combine ricotta, salt, and 2 tsp. honey in a small bowl.
2. Spread ricotta mixture onto toast and top with pear slices.
3. Drizzle with honey, and sprinkle with almonds.

(Recipe adapted from www.bonappetit.com)

Snack time doesn’t have to be a chore. The best part about the recipes listed above is that they’re all highly customisable – feel free to omit or replace ingredients with the ones you have on hand. By exercising some creativity and patience, your children will be able to snack happier, healthier, and they will have you to thank for it.

 

Article reviewed by Jennifer Shim, dietitian at Parkway East Hospital.

References

(20 February 2019) Blueberries 101: Nutrition Facts and Health Benefits. Retrieved 24 March 2021 from https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/foods/blueberries.

(7 May 2019) Bananas 101: Nutrition Facts and Health Benefits. Retrieved 24 March 2021 from https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/foods/bananas

(4 March 2019) The 9 Healthiest Types of Cheese. Retrieved 24 March 2021 from https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/healthiest-cheese

(17 September 2018) 7 Health Benefits of Kiwi. Retrieved 24 March 2021 from https://www.healthline.com/health/7-best-things-about-kiwi

(9 January 2019) 6 Surprising Health Benefits of Sweet Potatoes. Retrieved 24 March 2021 from https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/sweet-potato-benefits

(9 August 2018) Top 9 Health Benefits of Eating Watermelon. Retrieved 24 March 2021 from https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/watermelon-health-benefits

(27 March 2019) Strawberries 101: Nutrition Facts and Health Benefits. Retrieved 24 March 2021 from https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/foods/strawberries

(12 July 2019) 9 Health and Nutrition Benefits of Pears. Retrieved 24 March 2021 from https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/benefits-of-pears

(6 September 2018) 9 Evidence-Based Health Benefits of Almonds. Retrieved 24 March 2021 from https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/9-proven-benefits-of-almonds

(5 September 2018) 10 Surprising Health Benefits of Honey. Retrieved 23 March 2021 from https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/10-benefits-of-honey

13.APR.2017
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Jennifer Shim
Dietitian
Parkway East Hospital

Ms Shim is a dietitian member with the Dietitians Association of Australia.