Healthy Snacks in a Snap

Your baby is growing up so fast! Just like everyone told you, but it’s hard to believe.  Keeping up with baby’s changing dietary needs can be a challenge—and also an opportunity.  Never again will you have this much control over what your child eats. Healthy snacking plays a vital part in good nutrition as your baby enters the toddler years, and sets up a lifetime of good eating habits.

Toddlers are so wrapped up in discovery that it’s sometimes hard to get them to eat.  Nutrition-packed snacks fill in the gaps, and ensure that your child gets all of the vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, essential fats, protein and fiber needed for developing brains and bodies.

Graduation to toddler foods is also a great time to train that petite palate to enjoy a wide variety of healthy flavors. There’s a whole, wide world of delicious-ness out there, just waiting to be tried! Think your toddler won’t eat veggies? You might be surprised.

Babies love the taste of Yummy Spoonfuls organic baby food, because it’s pure, organic and fresh, and prepared with care and love. Simply follow the same rules for toddler snacks, and you can’t miss.

As a rule of thumb, we like to say:  KISS, or Keep It Simple & Safe!

First, consider safety.  Avoid foods known to be choking hazards:  whole grapes, whole cherry tomatoes, nuts, popcorn, hard raw vegetables, large chunks of food, peanut butter by the spoonful. Hot dogs of any kind are unsafe unless quartered and cut into bits.

Next, offer simple, organic choices. Now is the time to instill a love of vegetables—this good habit will last for a child’s entire life. Add variety with whole grains, fruits, dairy or dairy substitutes. Keep the fat, salt and sugar to a minimum. Here are some ideas to get started:

Tender Veggies
Soft-cooked vegetables are the perfect snack.  Try steamed asparagus tips, cubed squash, sweet potato chunks or whole green beans, with cottage cheese or homemade salad dressing for dipping.  Cooked peas, steamed broccoli florets, and carrot “coins” are good also.

Raw-Licious Veggies
Raw vegetables provide variety.  Kids love to dip their foods, so make a simple dip from plain yogurt and a little sea salt. Small romaine lettuce leaves, cucumber rounds, and matchstick carrots work great for dipping. Small romaine lettuce leaves also make nice little “boats” for a dollop of hummus or a dab of mashed avocado topped with minced tomato. Zucchini ribbons (cut with a vegetable peeler) dressed with a little olive oil and lemon are fun to eat like noodles.

Feelin’ Fruity
Sweeten up your little sweetie with fruit—not cookies and cupcakes. Fresh, organic whole fruits are best–bananas, melon, kiwi, thinly sliced pears and apples, Clementine sections, small chunks of navel orange, cut strawberries, peach, plum, and nectarine slices. Frozen applesauce or fruit purees make refreshing summer treats. Another alternative— dried fruit like raisins, cherries, papaya wedges and tiny strips of dried apricot.

Let Them Eat Toast
When you’re feeling like toast—make your super-charged kid something easy…like toast!  Whole grain toast makes the perfect finger food. Simply cut into triangles, squares, or strips.  Simple toppings fit the bill too: brush with olive oil; spread with almond butter or mashed avocado; drizzle with agave syrup & sprinkle with cinnamon; or just brush with olive oil and serve.

Tortilla Flats–or Rounds
Organic whole wheat flour tortillas hold all kinds of nutritious fillings. Try spreading with warm, organic refried beans, sprinkle with diced tomatoes and a little shredded cheese; cut into slices.  Fill with mashed avocado, minced tomatoes and finely shredded lettuce. Or spread thinly with creamy peanut butter and sugar-free fruit spread, roll up and slice for a different take on the classic PB&J.

Dairy or Non-Dairy
If your family eats dairy products, be sure to insist upon organic. Watch out for flavored yogurt and milk, though—even organic brands often contain loads of sugar. Buy plain yogurt and sweeten it yourself with agave syrup or honey. (Agave is a cactus extract that has a lower glycemic index than honey or sugar, making it suitable for diabetics, and anyone concerned about limiting their sugar intake.) Bite-sized chunks of organic cheese and cottage cheese are good, convenient sources of protein.

If you don’t eat dairy, choose from the many milk and cheese substitutes made from almonds, rice, soy, coconut, hemp seed and other nuts and grains.

Make sure you don’t get caught without snacks. Having something wholesome on hand can save your sanity, because anyone can get cranky with a growling stomach to contend with. Take one day to plan the week’s snacks, then prep and bag them the night before.

Healthy snacks take just a little preparation, and the payoff lasts a lifetime!

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