There are many challenges that parents face in the daily rhythms of raising children, and one thing that can take the edge off the chaos is ensuring that your child is nourished with the right foods. I cover this in my new kids cookbook Supercharged Food for Kids.
Whilst I'm a firm believer that the three main meals should be the greatest priority for filling your little one with the bulk of their nutrients and fuel, I also think snacks need to be well thought out as they are what regulate their blood sugar and moods.
Here are seven ways you can supercharge your child's snacks.
1. Load them up on protein
Protein is the building block of your child’s growth. Really, there is little that goes on within the body that doesn't require protein. When paired with carbohydrates, including protein in a snack will help to keep a turbulent tantrum at bay by regulating the uptake of sugar. Eggs, meat, fish, cheese and combining grains with nuts or seeds, or pulses with grains will provide a hit of protein.
2. Be generous with fat
Do not fear fat! Saturated fat from animal (butter, ghee, chicken skin, full fat dairy, and fats from pastured meat) or plant (coconut oil) sources are responsible for many critical functions in the body, and will keep your child full and nourished between meals when added to snacks. Unsaturated fats from avocado, nuts and seeds are also wonderfully nourishing to growing bodies. Nut butters, cheese, avocado, labna or yoghurt are lovely snack additions for kids. Try making these Cucumber Sailing Boats.
3. Focus on complex carbs
There is absolutely no place for many of the commercial snack foods available today that are high in simple carbohydrates that spike sugar levels and are highly processed. When using carbohydrates in snacks, always opt for wholefood sources of carbohydrate like wholegrains like quinoa, millet, brown rice, amaranth, buckwheat, spelt, lentils as well as potatoes and sweet potatoes.
4. Explore colour
Once you’ve covered the macronutrients through fats, proteins and complex carbs, you can be liberal with colourful fruits and vegetables that will fill your child’s body with vitamins, minerals, enzymes and phytonutrients that will cover an enormous range of compounds to contribute to good health. Try to cover all colours of the rainbow to supply a diverse range of protective antioxidants.
5. Be savvy about sweetness.
Kids love a good treat, and there’s no reason to deprive them if they are homemade and full of nourishing ingredients. My favourite real food sweeteners include raw honey, coconut sugar, rice malt syrup, stevia, and dried unsulfured fruits like apricots and dates. Use these to make sweet treats. They'll love these fabulous Chocolate Popsicles.
6. Persist with diversity. Snacks are a great opportunity to introduce a range of foods to your children. Supercharging your child’s diet means exposing them to a diverse range of foods that will provide a range of nutrients for their growth and development. Persist through rejection. Sometimes it takes four or five introductions to a food before a young child will accept the new taste.
7. Cram the goodness into a smoothie. Smoothies are a great pick-me-up snack for kids, especially in the afternoons after a big day out. They are hydrating and potentially highly nutritious—you’ll be able to add sneaky ingredients that they’d normally reject.
You'll find more delicious recipes for kids in my book Supercharged Food for Kids.