Making those snacks count
BY VIVIENNE ARONOWITZ, MPH, RD, CDE
For active keiki, eating every two or three hours is natural. So how do you make those snack count? Think of them as mini meals that contribute to your child’s overall nutrition and well-being.
One good rule of thumb is to make at least 50 percent of any snack or mini meal a fruit or vegetable. This way, you can improve the health value of the whole snack by getting more nutrients and fiber as well as reducing the total calories. There are many vegetables and fruits that come ready or almost ready to eat. Baby carrots, apple bananas, tangerines, grapes, cherry or grape tomatoes, radishes, berries, baby peppers, sugar snap or snow peas. Others need minimal preparation like washing and cutting or boiling like edamame (soybeans.)
Use snack time as an opportunity to introduce your keiki to some new vegetables or fruit. One fun activity to do this summer is to see how many different fruits and vegetables you can taste for each letter of the alphabet. Keep a journal and award prizes for the biggest tasters.
When the summer weather gets to you, try making Popsicles out of 100 percent fruit juice with bits of fruit added. If you don’t have Popsicle makers, paper cups with a straw inserted can work, too. Frozen grapes or berries are a great alternative to sugary Popsicles. Just let them thaw slightly and they are so delicious. Yogurts that come in a tube can be frozen as well and enjoyed on a hot day or use yogurt to make your homemade frozen treats.
Make a parfait with fresh or frozen fruit, plain yogurt and some cereal. Put fruit and yogurt into a smoothie and even sneak in some greens like spinach or kale, these nutrition powerhouses will hardly be noticed. Be sure to blend for a little while so that the leafy greens are totally broken down.
Food that come in natural wrappers like edamame and sugar snap peas are fun to eat, too. Think of fruits or veggies as containers or wrappers for healthy fillings. Scoop out a tomato or pepper half and fill with egg or tuna salad. Use a lettuce leaf or spinach as a wrapper for a “leafy sandwich.” Seasoned seaweed or nori squares are also great wrappers but try to fill them with healthier items than the traditional musubi.
Start with brown rice or use just vegetables. Try cucumbers or grated carrots, avocado and then some healthy protein if desired. Tuna and tofu work well.
Snacks can be fun art projects as well good to eat. Start with a blank palette of one quarter flat-out or whole wheat wrap, or corn tortilla. Spread a layer of hummus, guacamole, plain yogurt or a little light mayo or ranch dressing. Top with a cute face of cherry tomato eyes, carrot nose and pepper slice mouth. Or maybe try a landscape picture. When you are done, roll it up and eat it.
See how many different colors you can have on your plate. Fruits and vegetables come in wonderfully different shades and all those different colors bring a host of fabulous nutrients to your meal or snacks. Roasting veggies brings out their natural sweetness. just brush with a little olive oil and roast sweet potato sticks, asparagus, peppers, green beans, squash slices, or cauliflower at 350 to 400 degrees until just tender.
When it comes to drinks, stick mostly to water or lower fat milks. Making herb teas and chilling them is a great way to bring variety without extra calories. At Malaai Culinary Garden at Waimea Middle School, the favorite tea is made from lemon grass, mamaki, and mint. Malaai tea is sold at the Village Burger and is hugely popular.
So make a resolution to keep the snacks in a bag — with all the added sugar, fat or salt — out of your house and bring in the fixings for some healthy treats this summer.
Carrot Raisin Salad
• 1 ⁄ 2 pound carrots, shredded
• 1 ⁄ 3 cup raisins
• 1 ⁄ 3 cup plain yogurt
• 2 tablespoons mayonnaise
• 1 teaspoon honey
• 1 dash cinnamon
• lettuce leaves
Combine the carrots, raisins, yogurt, mayonnaise, honey and cinnamon, if desired, in a small bowl. Chill for several hours or overnight. Serve in a lettuce cup. Makes 4 servings.
Calories: 108, Fiber: 2gms
Aronowitz is a dietitian consultant for various area programs including Head Start, Hale Haola Hamakua and Kaiser Permanente.