Fun and fiber?

Amy Deahl-Greenlaw, a registered dietitian nutritionist with Healthy NewsWorks, shares some insights on how to get more fiber into kids’ diets.

November 2019 … Fact: Kids love snacks. Fact: Kids need fiber. Mix in a little fun and you’ll get fiber- filled snacks kids will ask for!

Kids need fiber just as adults do. Fiber acts like a scrub brush in our bodies, helping to keep our digestive and cardiovascular systems running smoothly. According to federal dietary guidelines, boys and girls ages 9 to 18 need an average of about 25 grams of fiber per day.* Adults need about the same. Younger children need less.

You find fiber primarily in three of the five food groups, all plant-based: fruit, vegetables, and grains (specifically whole grains).

Foods in the other two food groups, dairy and protein, generally do not contain fiber. One exception to that rule is the family of plant-based protein foods such as beans, nuts, and seeds, which have both protein and fiber. 

Here are some fun and delicious ways to combine fruit, vegetables, whole grains, and plant-based protein into fiber-rich snacks that kids will love to make and eat!

Roasted Pumpkin Seed Snack Mix 

The U.S. Department of Agriculture has this suggestion for a quick and tasty snack full of fiber:

Ingredients

  • 2 cups crispy rice or wheat cereal squares (choose whole grain varieties)
  • 1/2 cup roasted whole pumpkin seeds
  • 1/3 cup slivered almonds
  • 1/2 cup dried cranberries
  • 1/2 cup raisins

Directions

Mix all ingredients together and serve. (Makes 8 servings)

Adapted from: “Roasted Pumpkin Seed Snack Mix,” USDA SNAP-Ed Education.

Apple Rings

If you’ve got a lot of apples, here’s a way to get kids excited about eating them.

Ingredients

  • An apple
  • Peanut butter
  • Raisins or dried cranberries, peanuts, or sunflower seeds

Directions

1. Core an apple or cut 1/4-inch-thick round slices of a whole apple and cut out the center.

2. Spread with peanut butter.

3. Top with raisins or dried cranberries, peanuts, or sunflower seeds.

Adapted from “Apple Recipes to Make with Kids: Making the Most of Apple Picking Adventures,” Mommy Poppins.

Apple Tree

Blogger and registered dietitian Kristen Smith entices her kids to eat healthier foods by making a cute Christmas tree made of apple slices, dried fruit, cheese, and pretzels.

Ingredients

  • A slice of yellow cheese (low-fat)—for the star
  • 5-7 small pretzel sticks—for the tree trunk
  • 8 green apple slices—for the tree branches
  • 8 raisins or dried cranberries—for decorations on branches
  • Juice of 1/2 lemon, or several squirts from bottled lemon juice

Directions

1. Core and slice the apple into eight sections (use an apple slicer or slice the apple down the center from stem to bottom and cut each half into four slices, then remove core and seeds). Immediately place in cold water with the lemon juice for several minutes, then drain, to reduce browning.

2. Diagonally cut one slide of cheese in half, making two triangle shapes.

3. Create a tree with:

  • Apple slice branches (4 slices on each side)
  • Pretzel trunk
  • Cheese star ( Lay one triangle shape over the other with long edges at top and bottom to create six-point star.)
  • Raisins or cranberries as ornaments.

Adapted from “Healthy Holiday Snacks for Kids,” 360 Family Nutrition.

Banana Snowmen

Looking for a festive breakfast or fun party snack? Serve up some banana, strawberry, carrot, and grape snowmen.

Ingredients

  • 2 bananas
  • 1/4 of a carrot
  • Handful of raisins, chopped
  • 3 strawberries
  • 6 grapes
  • 6 skewers

Directions

1. Cut the bananas into thick slices (approximately 9 per banana).

2. Peel the carrot and cut into small triangular slivers for a pointy nose.

3. Trim the stems from the strawberries and cut in half (from the stem side to the pointy bottom). You should get two hats out of each strawberry.

5. Thread three slices of banana onto each skewer to create the snowman body, followed by a strawberry hat and grape. Gently press the raisin pieces into the banana slices to create eyes and the buttons on the body, then add the carrot nose.

Safety note: Use plastic coffee stirrers for skewers.

Adapted from “Christmas Banana Snowmen,” One Handed Cooks.

* U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and U.S. Department of Agriculture. 2015–2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans. 8th Edition. December 2015. Available at https://health.gov/dietaryguidelines/2015/guidelines/.


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