Children's Snacking at Its Best

Photo: MarthaStewart.com

The temptation at the grocery store is to load up on "easy" snacks for the kids at home. You know how it is, you enter the snack aisle and you lose your sense of control, from Cheez-its to Dora the Explorer fruit snacks. And the little short people you shop with, yanking on your pants as they pass every colorful enticing snack, don't help.

I got tired of the "empty" nutrients in these standard kid's snacks. Yes the label says, "Made with Real Cheese", but look at the rest of the list: 4 different kinds of cheap oils, sugars, artificial flavorings, etc. And I don't know about you, but I was using these snacks 1-2 times a day. No wonder they weren't tiding over my 3 year old, either. There was nothing substantial in these typical snacks, like unadulterated whole grains.

I took the matter into my own hands, literally. My 3 year old, Caroline, and I began to bake our own healthy snack. Every Monday morning when my youngest, Johanna, goes down for a nap, Caroline comes up on the counter with me to bake. I find the perfect recipe Sunday night so not to lose time or a 3 year old's attention span when it is baking time.

Cookbooks, baking books, and especially, the internet, have 1,000s of healthy snack ideas, based on the amount of time you have each week. Some of our favorites: granola bars, fruit roll-ups, homemade cookies (yes, cookies-- homemade means YOU control what goes inside the dough), homemade cheese crackers, juice popsicles, and muffins. Most of our snacks last through the week either stored in air tight containers or in the refrigerator.

As you become your family's nutritionist, you will become empowered with the great things you can do for your family. Making your own snacks can take 10 minutes (simply making your own trail mix of nuts, dried fruit, and pretzels and filling individual snack sized Ziplocks to grab throughout the week) or longer for a more intricate treat that will not only affect the health, energy, and longevity of you and your child, but actually create memories.

Caroline putting the cut apples into the blender for fruit roll-ups; eating this one and that one as she works.