by Natalie Grebe
When chatting with a friend recently, she teased me about my love of chickpeas. I could eat them every day! Luckily for me, they can be prepared many ways as a healthy snack or side dish. My friend mentioned how frustrating it was for her to try to eat a well-balanced diet when there are so few fruits and vegetables she likes to eat. This had me thinking again about the importance of exposing young children to a variety of healthy foods. As teachers, we have opportunities to promote healthier eating through the foods we serve, by modeling healthy eating, and in our conversations with the children during snacks and meals. Having discussions and planning activities about healthy eating within their everyday experiences will encourage children to make healthy food and drink choices.
Unfortunately, many healthy options also come at a higher price. Here are three recipes for healthy snacks, suitable for toddlers through school-age children, that won’t break your food budget.
As always, be sure to include adequate handwashing for both the teacher and children prior to preparing food. As the health and safety of children is a priority, procedures may need to be modified to comply with your State and County COVID-19 Guidelines.
Dutch Apple Yogurt – provided by the Arizona Nutrition Network
For each child, you will need:
- ¼ cup yogurt (non-fat vanilla is best)
- ¼ cup unsweetened applesauce
- ½ tablespoon raisins (seedless)
- 2 shakes of ground cinnamon
- ½ teaspoon brown sugar
- A handful of crunchy cereal (for school age children, nuts can be used, assuming no allergies exist)
- Allow each child to measure their ingredients in a small bowl.
- Cover and refrigerate until chilled. To ensure each child receives his/her bowl, label the cover of each bowl, or write the child’s name on a piece of masking tape, tape the name to a tray, and place each bowl on top of the name.
- Eat and enjoy!
Yogurt Smoothie in a Bag – provided by Purdue University Extensions
No blender? No problem! For each child, you will need:
- ¼ cup yogurt, low-fat vanilla (or plain)
- 1 tablespoon milk, 1% recommended
- 2/3 tablespoon frozen fruit juice concentrate (2 teaspoons, thawed)
- Place ingredients in a heavy-duty snack sized plastic bag.
- Squish the bag until all ingredients are mixed, then stick a straw in the bag to drink the smoothie. Toddlers will absolutely love the sensory experience of squishing their bag; just be sure it is zipped tightly after adding the straw!
Strawberry S’mores – provided by University of Maryland Extension.
No campfire needed! For each S’more, you will need:
- 2 strawberries
- 1 graham cracker (broken in half)
- 1/8 cup yogurt, low-fat vanilla (2 tablespoons)
- Rinse the strawberries in water and slice. Older preschool and school-age children can assist with this by using a non-sharp knife.
- Add the yogurt and strawberries to 1/2 of graham cracker.
- Top with the other 1/2 of graham cracker.
- Enjoy immediately.
A few tips:
- When introducing a new food, serve it alongside a familiar food.
- Most children love to dip. You can introduce vanilla and plain yogurt to them before trying the recipes by providing a small cup of yogurt with crackers or vegetables for dipping.
- Children are excited to help with cooking. Activities like buttering a slice of bread, cutting soft fruits with a non-sharp knife, using a sieve, and rolling dough are all appropriate for children.
For more information on best practices related to health and safety, please consult Caring for Our Children https://nrckids.org/CFOC