We all know it. We should be constantly slicing up fresh fruit for our kids, or baking nutritious snacks for them out of sweet potato and quinoa. But let’s admit it.
Sometimes we just don’t have the time.
Anna Debenham and Alex Parker of The Biting Truth, accredited practising dietitians, say parents shouldn’t ever feel guilty about having to resort to packaged snacks.
“Obviously, as dietitians, we’re always going to recommend people make their own snacks as much as possible and use wholesome fresh ingredients like fruit and vegetables and dairy,” Debenham tells Mamamia. “However, we’re also realistic and obviously everyone’s really busy.
“There are packaged snack options for kids in the supermarket that are healthy options.”
Parker says parents should look for snacks that offer nutritional benefits, in terms of fibre, calcium, protein and wholegrains. She suggests having a read of the ingredients.
“Ideally, the ingredient list should be quite short, and they should be able to recognise most of the ingredients on that list.”
She says portion size is also important.
“We know from the stats that Aussie kids are already eating too much. The recommendation is that a snack should be less than 600kj.”
Debenham adds that parents should be aware that not everything stocked in the health food aisle is actually healthy.
“There are a lot of food and snacks in that aisle that are marketed as being a healthier option, but when it comes down to it, they’re not at all.”
Here are five snacks that Debenham and Parker say are a “good option” to have in the pantry or fridge for when you’re short of time.
1. The Happy Snack Company’s roasted chickpeas and fava beans.
“They’re in the portion-controlled packets and they’re low in sodium, which is really important when it comes to savoury snacks. They’re also really high in fibre. It’s a really good way to get legumes into kids’ diets, and they’re still quite crunchy and tasty.”
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2. Petit Miam Squeezie and Chobani yoghurt pouches.
“Any yoghurt is going to be a good option because it’s a really good source of calcium and protein. But with yoghurts we need to be quite careful, because a lot do have a bit of sugar in them. If you can, get plain yoghurt and add fruit. Otherwise, there are a few good yoghurt pouches, like Petit Miam Squeezie. Chobani are a good option as well because it’s Greek yoghurt so it’s higher in protein.”
3. Barley+ muesli bars.
“Muesli bars are obviously a staple for a lot of parents. We recommend steering clear of the ones covered in yoghurt or chocolate, because these tend to be not as nutritious as others. One that we would recommend is Barley+ muesli bars. We feel they actually taste good but are lower in sugar and higher in fibre. Fibre is really important for children because the point of snacks is to keep them full until the next meal.”
4. Cobs or Macro air-popped popcorn.
“Air-popped popcorn isn’t the most nutrient-rich snack, but if parents are looking to replace something like chips, it’s still a source of wholegrains, so it’s a source of fibre. If you can get one that’s low in salt, that is still a healthy option.”
5. Vita-Weat crackers, with cheese.
“Cheese and crackers are good, but parents need to make sure the crackers are wholegrain. A lot of crackers are quite refined and they don’t offer many nutrients. Get Vita-Weats and just package them up with cheese slices.”