It’s so easy to reach for a bag of chips or a box of cookies instead of something healthy, but if your children are like most, once you offer up a healthy snack your children will grow to love the taste.
Here are some snacks that are good for your heart:
* Ants on the log – Take a stalk of celery; cut it up into “logs.” Cover it in heart healthy nut butter (peanut or almond) and then sprinkle with raisins. A tasty, fun, heart-healthy snack.
* Banana boats – These are a fun alternative to s’mores around the campfire. Take a banana, slit the peel, keep the banana in but cover it with marshmallows and antioxidant dark chocolate chips. Or make the banana into a little car with slices of kiwi for wheels and strawberries in the driver's seat.
* Wagon wheels – Take two circular whole-grain crackers, put fat-free, 1% or low-fat cheese in between and you have a healthy snack in the shape of a wagon wheel.
* Wagon wheels redux – A new take on the old classic. Slice up an apple on its side to create circles. Fill with low-fat turkey or low-fat cheese and you have a nice low-carb, gluten-free snack.
Make Your Own:
* Create your own tortilla chips. Take whole wheat tortillas, cut in strips, brush or spray with a touch of heart-healthy olive oil and bake in the oven at 400 degrees F until crispy. You can also add cinnamon sugar for a sweet treat.
* Bake your own fries. Take a potato or for an even healthier vitamin A-enriched snack, a sweet potato, and slice it into 1/8- to 1/4-inch strips. Again, brush or spray with olive oil and bake in the oven at 425 degrees. After 20 minutes, shake a little salt over them, raise the temperature to 450 and bake ten more minutes until crispy.
* Pumpkin seeds are packed with magnesium. While carving your pumpkin, set the seeds aside, rinse and spread them out on a cookie sheet sprayed with cooking oil (try the omega-3 heart-healthy spray). Sprinkle with salt and roast at 250 for 45 minutes to an hour. Many recommend chili powder, Cajon seasoning or garlic powder on this tasty snack.
Make Ordinary Food Fun:
* Instead of just a fruit salad, try fruit kebabs. Or let your children make their own kebabs and share them with the family. You can use toothpicks or actual kebab skewers and add slices of banana, strawberries, kiwi, pineapple or melon to make a fun and festive heart-healthy snack.
* Consider turning boring veggie trays into a Halloween skeleton everyone wants to eat. You can build red pepper ribs, a cucumber slice spine, celery stick shoulders, baby carrot arms, cauliflower hands, a bowl of ranch dip for the face, black olive eyes and leafy kale as hair. And you can do the same for any holiday coming up — blueberries, strawberries and bananas are great for designing fun Independence Day treats and so on.
Sometimes substituting a heart-healthy snack for a junk food snack just takes a little creativity or a quick trip down the fruit and veggie aisle at the grocery store.
If time’s running low, here are a few easy things to stash in your purse as heart-healthy snacks: a package of unsalted almonds or sunflower seeds, apples, oranges or grapes, baby carrots and hummus, whole grain crackers and low-fat string cheese, water.
A heart-healthy snack takes minutes to prepare and is full of vitamins, fiber and low in cholesterol.
Consider taking a few minutes to prepare a heart-healthy snack for your children’s after-school snack, and you’ll find that a few small changes can make a big impact on your child’s health and eating habits.