Healthy Summer Snacks

Summer is here and that means kids are playing outside with friends in the summer heat! With all the extra outdoors activity, kids need nutritious snacks to keep them going all day long. Here are some healthy snack suggestions to ensure your kids' snack times are healthy, fun and simple.

1. Choose healthy snacks. Kids love sweets in the summer such as ice cream, chocolate and candy, but unfortunately all that sugar can take a toll on their health. An over-consumption of sugar is linked to childhood obesity, tooth decay and poor nutrition. In a Tulane University study, researchers found that children who eat a lot of sugar consume significantly less protein, vitamin E, B vitamins, iron and zinc. Truestar recommends kids to have snacks that contain healthy carbohydrates such as whole grains, fruits and vegetables; lean proteins such as poultry, eggs, lean meats, low-fat dairy products and soy; and essential fats such as nuts and seeds, olive oil and avocado. Some recipe ideas include:

  • whole-grains crackers with low-fat cheese

  • celery sticks with peanut butter

  • tortilla rollups with cheese and lean meats

  • yogurt topped with fresh fruit and nuts or seeds

  • trail mix of dried fruit, cereal and nuts

  • mini pizzas made from whole-wheat pita, tomato sauce, low-fat cheese, vegetables and veggie pepperoni.
  • See Truestar meal plans for more easy and tasty recipes.

    2. Keep them hydrated! By the time kids say they are thirsty, they are already dehydrated. Parents should make sure their children take water breaks every 15 to 20 minutes while playing outside or when participating in a sports activity. Have your kids drink at least 8 glasses of water a day to remain hydrated. Active children lose 2 or more quarts of water daily so their bodies need to be continuously replenished.

    3. Easy as 1-2-3. Kids love to eat something they have had a hand in making. Have your kids help you choose foods at the grocery store and keep them available and ready so kids can make the snacks themselves. Kids love to knead and roll out dough. They also like designing their own cookies using cookie-cutters and using decorative toppings such sprinkles, chocolate chips or raisins. Kids also love to make up their own snacks like a trail mix of cereals, nuts, seeds and dried fruit or yogurt parfaits made from low-fat yogurt, fresh fruit and nuts or granola.

    4. Remember kids love to have FUN! Kids are more likely to eat snacks that are not bland or boring! Use foods that are rich in colour and that have unusual shapes and different textures. You can carve their favourite fruits into fun shapes, bake healthy cookies and use cookie cutters to make them more appealing and freeze fruits such as blueberries or grapes for a refreshing and cold snack.

    5. Choose dental-friendly snacks. Table sugar (sucrose) and corn sweeteners (fructose) found in kids’ favorite snack foods and drinks such as candies, pop, cakes and cookies are two big culprits of cavities. Research shows that cooked starches such as bread, cereals, pasta, crackers and potato chips also play a role in the formation of cavities. When sugary foods are allowed to remain in the mouth for several hours, bacteria produce acids that dissolve the hard enamel covering the teeth which leads to the development of cavities. Make sure your kids brush twice daily with a fluoride toothpaste and limit sugary snacks! For more information, see Smart Snacks for Dental Health!

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