Healthful NoCook Snacks for Kids

Kids have a case of the after-school munchies? Try these healthful, no-cook snacks. They're easy and fun to make—and depending on your child's age, require little or no adult supervision.

  • Grains, ft = Fruit, A = Vegetable, = Meat and Beans, H = Milk
  • Snack Kebobs. Cut raw vegetables and fruit into chunks. Skewer them onto thin pretzel sticks. W W ^ (Note: To prevent discoloration, dip cut apples, bananas, or pears in orange juice.)
  • Veggies with Dip. Cut celery, zucchini, cucumbers, or carrots into sticks or coins. Then dip them into prepared salsa.
  • Banana Pops. Peel a banana. Dip it in yogurt, then roll in crushed breakfast cereal; freeze. OT H ^
  • Fruit Slices and PB. Spread peanut butter on apple or banana slices. W
  • Fruit Shake-ups. Put V2 cup low-fat fruit yogurt and V2 cup cold fruit juice in a nonbreakable, W W covered container. Make sure the lid is tight. Then shake it up, and pour into a cup.
  • Sandwich Cutouts. Using cookie cutters with fun shapes like dinosaurs, stars, and hearts, cut slices H W ^ of cheese, meat, and whole-grain bread. Then put them together to make fun sandwiches. Eat the edges, too.
  • Peanut Butter Balls. Mix peanut butter and bran or cornflakes in a bowl. Shape the mixture into H Is balls with clean hands. Then roll them in crushed graham crackers.
  • Salsa Quesadillas. Fill a soft tortilla with cheese and salsa, fold over, and grill. W H ^
  • Ice Cream-Wiches. Put a small scoop of ice cream or frozen yogurt between two oatmeal cook- © o ies or frozen whole-wheat waffles. Make a batch of these sandwiches ahead, and freeze them.
  • Ants on a Log. Fill celery with peanut butter. Arrange raisins along the top. ^ ^ ^

Until the teen years, avoid the urge to compete with Kids' Kitchen your kids in organized games such as tennis; usually a child is no match for adult strength and skill. Physi- Your kitchen is a learning klroratoiy! Just like tracal activity needs to feel good to the body and the ing to read and write, becoming self-sufficient with mind. Encourage "personal best." food preparation is a life skill your child or teen needs

Encourage active play so exercise doesn't seem like to accomplish. In the kitchen kids leam ab°ut f°°d and punishment. If your child feels embarrassed about not become health-wise consumers of food. being good enough in a sport, find something active If you're a single parent or in a dual-career house-

your child likes or feels good about. It doesn't need hold, your child also may share responsibility for fam-

to be a team or group activity. Do it together to build ily nutrition and be expected to feed himself or herself confidence. sometimes. Depending on age, your child may help

Do you need after-school care for your kids? Look with food ^pp^ preparati^ and cleanup. Kitehen for programs that include physical activity: perhaps skills are more than fun. They may be a necessity!

Let's Cook!

in Scout groups, outdoor centers, recreational and community centers, or your child's school. Or sign them up for gymnastics, dance, or swim classes. Prepare food with your child—and explore a wide vari-For more ideas, see "Twenty Everyday Ways to Get ety of foods. At the same time, your child can learn how

Moving" in chapter 2. to handle and prepare foods in a safe, healthful way.

When kids cook, they practice many skills— besides how to handle and prepare foods to nourish themselves and keep food safe to eat. By reading a recipe, children learn new words and practice reading. They identify foods and learn their qualities as they gather ingredients. By preparing a recipe, they practice measuring, counting, timing, sequencing, and following directions. Slicing, pouring, rolling dough, and shaping meat patties are among the food preparation activities that develop small-muscle movement and eye-hand coordination. Food preparation is practical science. Children might watch dough rise, see eggs coagulate, or observe how sugar dissolves in water.

Preparing food also promotes your child's social and emotional development. Children feel good about themselves when they successfully prepare foods to eat—and share with others. It's an opportunity to explore foods of other cultures and respect the similarities and the differences. Most important, preparing food together is a chance to be together. Consider these guidelines for kitchen success:

  • Choose foods and recipes that match your child's abilities. With foods a child might prepare alone, first make them together.
  • For young cooks, choose illustrated children's cookbooks that show the foods, measurements, and steps along the way. Go over the safety and sanitation tips at the front of a child's cookbook.
  • Ask your child to suggest foods he or she would like to make. Make it a total experience by shopping for ingredients together, too.
  • Start with hand washing! And review safety precautions. Supervise children as they learn to work with knives, the stove, and other potentially dangerous equipment. Follow good cleanliness habits. See "Kitchen Safety Alert" below.
  • Besides cooking together, have your child help you store food properly for food safety.
  • Use this chance to show your child how to handle food to keep it clean and safe from spoilage and foodborne illness. Among the things to learn and practice: hand washing, using clean utensils for different foods, and using a meat thermometer. For more guidance, see chapter 12.

For easy recipes that children can prepare for snacks—or any meal of the day—see "Kitchen Nutrition: Healthful, No-Cook Snacks for Kids" on page 424.

Kitchen Safety Alert

With all that goes on in a kitchen, food preparation sends some "red flags" for kids' safety. Cooking is safe—if your child learns to be careful. Make the kitchen a fun, rewarding place for kids; teach the basics of kitchen safety.

  • Remind children to always wash their hands with soap and water before and after they handle food, and dry them well.
  • Supervise your child around food, especially when he or she handles hot liquids, knives, appliances, and other potentially dangerous equipment.
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