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15 healthy and nutritious foods to include in your children’s snacks

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Discover the 15 healthy and nutritious foods to include in your children’s snacks.

Afternoon snack was my favorite meal when I was little: a sandwich, a piece of fruit and to the park to play. Today, our children continue to enjoy it, but the ingredients have changed and many children opt for pastries or industrial juices.

According to the Spanish Association of Pediatrics (AEP), the snack should represent 15% of the daily energy intake of a child, but that does not mean that it has to be super caloric. Quite the opposite! It must be healthy, which is not the same as boring.

We can ensure that the afternoon snack remains one of your favorite meals, even your favorite, but that it includes healthy and nutritious foods. These are some examples.

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1. Avocado

The properties of this tropical fruit are very numerous. Among them, its high content in Omega 3 stands out. Different trials have shown that taking Omega-3 improves learning and can reduce ADHD symptoms.

But avocado is also rich in vitamin D, necessary to regulate the absorption of calcium and phosphorus. This quality is very beneficial for children since it prevents the fragility of bones and teeth.

In addition, it contains potassium, magnesium, calcium, and iron. You can continue eating it with other meals, such as salads, but you can also offer it for a snack, spread on whole-grain toast. It will be even healthier and more appetizing if you add some cherry tomatoes on top. And why not surprise him with an appetizing avocado pâté or guacamole?

2. Oatmeal

Cereals must be present in the diet of the whole family and, of course, also in that of our children. Among all of them, oatmeal is the one that contains the greatest contribution of fiber, which manages to satisfy them, a good ally if the child tends to be overweight.

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But, in addition, it has unsaturated fats and is a food rich in potassium, magnesium, calcium, and B vitamins. And it includes vitamin E, selenium, polyphenols, and calcium, good for your bones.

Also, this cereal, with the highest protein content, is suitable for coeliacs and helps against constipation.

He will be delighted if you mix it with yogurt, for example, or surprise him at snack time with some succulent cookies, a piece of cake, or an oatmeal muffin, much healthier than industrial sweets.

3. Peanuts

They are often included in the sack of nuts, even though they are a legume. They are a source of vegetable proteins (approximately 30%) and healthy fats for the body, at the same level as the precious soybean.

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In addition, it has carbohydrates and high fiber content as well as various minerals such as potassium, magnesium, phosphorus, flatus, and zinc.

They can be included in numerous recipes, sweet and salty, and consumed in the shell, salty… But if we talk about children’s snacks, the main recipe is peanut butter spread on wholemeal bread. As Vitónica explains, it is among the plant-based foods that concentrate the most protein and is an excellent source of vitamin E and omega 3.

Commercial options can contain added sugars and sodium in large amounts, but at home, we can easily make peanut butter and reap its benefits.

4. Chocolate

Contrary to popular belief, chocolate has many health benefits for children. This food provides carbohydrates, fiber, phosphorus, magnesium, vitamins B2, and B12…

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Cocoa makes children more awake and attentive to external stimuli, which will help them in class. It also gives them the energy, necessary for their intense physical activity, and strengthens their muscles and bones.

And if we add to that its antioxidant properties and its power to produce serotonin, we will know that our children will have less risk of heart disease and a better mood.

So why not include four ounces in a piece of bread from time to time, the classic snack of a lifetime, prepare a hot chocolate or some homemade double chocolate brownies.

Keep in mind that chocolate should only be drunk occasionally, and the purer the better. Chocolate is not bad in itself if consumed in moderation. That, yes, avoid processed foods with chocolate such as cookies and pastries.

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5. Strawberries

Like the rest of the fruits, it is an essential food in your diet. They provide few calories, are rich in fiber, vitamins, and minerals, and have phytonutrients that protect them against diseases caused by a deficient immune system: flu, bronchitis, or anemia.

And best of all, children are usually attracted by their color, appearance, and sweet taste, so they will enjoy eating them without question. In addition, they have more vitamin C than oranges and without their acid taste.

This vitamin protects children’s eyes from free radicals, the origin of many eye problems.

A cup of strawberries has about 150% of the recommended daily value of vitamin C for little ones, so don’t forget to include strawberries in your child’s daily dishes.

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It is convenient to take them whole, to take advantage of all their properties, but you can also offer them in a smoothie or even as natural ice cream.

6. Nuts

The Spanish Association of Pediatrics (AEP) recommends the consumption of nuts, never salted, in children, although it advises giving them ground to children under three years of age, due to the risk of choking.

They are rich in fiber, vitamins, and minerals and contain healthy fats. They are a great ally before and after physical exercise or extracurricular activities since they are a very healthy source of energy, quick, and easy to eat.

But not all nuts are equally healthy. Taking into account the relationship between micronutrients and caloric content, you can offer chestnuts, hazelnuts, almonds, pistachios, and walnuts.

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You can also surprise him with a nut and oatmeal bar to improve his performance or some sugar-free cookies.

7. Egg

False legends demystified, such as that they were harmful to the heart and that their consumption should be reduced, today it is known that it is even appropriate to take one a day, due to its high doses of good cholesterol, and that introducing it into the diet of babies at six months, can help prevent the child from developing an allergy to this food.

Among its benefits, it helps our children to grow stronger, recover after physical exercise, and to gain muscle mass.

Rich in lutein and zeaxanthin, they take care of vision and ensure the health of the retina. They also contain choline (100 mcg per egg), important for brain development, Omega 3, and Vitamin D, which supports brain and cognitive memory and is important for healthy bones, hair and nails.

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They also provide the right balance of saturated and unsaturated fats that make them an excellent food for growing bodies.

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Try one day to prepare a wholemeal sandwich with slices of boiled egg or stuffed with a fluffy French omelet and if it is grilled, even better.

8. Cooked ham

Children love fuet or mortadella but they are very processed. As nutritionists point out that there are no prohibited foods, you can seduce them with cooked ham or turkey, the healthiest and most nutritious alternatives.

Due to its high iron content, it is good for combating anemia and also for the growth of children, since it contains zinc, an essential mineral for the formation and mineralization of our bones and reproductive organs.

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It also helps muscle development, due to its high protein content (it provides about 18 grams of protein per 100 grams of ham), the circulatory and nervous systems (thanks to its contribution of Vitamin B3), and gives them energy.

Children enjoy eating the slices on their own, inside a French omelet or in a sandwich, alone or with cheese.

9. Iberian ham

It is the healthiest sausage that exists, and children love it. It is not recommended to offer it to babies, due to the amount of salt it contains and the danger of choking, but from then on they can eat it without problems, especially in very thin slices and cut into strips.

Its high protein content (with all the essential amino acids) benefits the development and growth of children and adolescents and, as its iron content is also high, it helps them to be in good physical shape.

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In addition, it includes potassium, good for brain cells and muscles, while strengthening the immune system. It also provides B vitamins and minerals (such as zinc), which help in growth.

And as Vitónica tells us, these appetizing slices at snack time and at any time, also reduce cholesterol and benefit the heart, and explain the healthy differences between Iberian ham and Serrano ham.

10. Milk and yogurt

The contribution of dairy products should not be lacking in the daily diet of children, making sure that they receive 2 to 4 servings a day. A healthy dairy and fruit are the perfect combination for a snack.

The AEP recommends that children up to three years old consume whole dairy products and, from the age of three or if the child is overweight, opt for semi-skimmed or skimmed milk.

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Calcium is very important in the development of bones and therefore in the growth of children. And milk has a lot of calcium.

Also, yogurt is made from fermented milk, although if you have to choose between these foods, it is better to opt for milk every day since yogurts contain more sugar.

But you can also seduce him with very light homemade milk-based ice cream, or frozen yogurt with strawberries. And if you have time, try these yogurt and cheese cups with raspberry sauce.

11. Apple

It is one of the most complete and healthy fruits known for its content of carbohydrates, fiber, vitamins, and potassium, which is highly recommended for all ages. There is an English saying that “an apple a day keeps the doctor away”.

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Among its health properties, apples calm anxiety and calm hunger, act as natural toothpaste, exercise memory, keep cholesterol at bay, strengthen hair and nails, and strengthen their defenses, protecting them from the flu or colds.

The ideal is to offer it whole for snacking or cut into sticks, to take advantage of all its nutrients, but you can also prepare a compote for a change.

12. Quince

This September fruit is, naturally, very low in sugar, which is why its caloric value is very low.

But it is also very rich in fiber ( pectin and mucilage) and tannins, substances that give it an astringent property, which lightens digestion and prevents gastrointestinal disorders.

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Consuming it helps stop diarrhea, prevent dehydration caused by vomiting, and strengthen delicate stomachs.

It is used above all to make compotes and quince jelly, typical of snacks and which also usually accompanies cheeses. Although when cooked it loses all its properties, it maintains many and you can offer it moderately.

13. Bread

Impossible to talk about snacks without mentioning the traditional sandwiches, which have accompanied us in our childhood. Bread has been crossed out of weight-loss diets due to its high caloric value but, although it is true that it makes you fat, not as much as you think. Vitónica even ensures that it is necessary for the daily diet.

And it is that after all it is made of cereals, and these are essential in a healthy and balanced children’s diet. Bread provides children with a large number of nutrients, in the form of carbohydrates, essential to have energy throughout the day.

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It also has a high content of fiber and folic acid, essential to protect the cardiovascular system of the little ones, in addition to Vitamin B1, Iodine, and Zinc, which strengthen the immune system.

Also, not all bread is created equal. A sandwich made with traditional sourdough bread is usually more nutritious than one with sliced bread because it contains enough salt, sugar, and preservatives to keep it soft. In addition, whole wheat bread is an even healthier option, which will help children get used to its taste from an early age.

For a child from six to eight years old, the sandwich has to be the size of a palm. It can be filled with fresh or semi-cured cheese, natural tomato, avocado, homemade hummus… Dare with one of these 11 homemade recipes to know exactly its ingredients.

14. Banana

If you are still wondering why this fruit cannot be missing from your children’s diet, we will tell you that it gives them instant energy, thanks to the carbohydrates and potassium it contains. So you will be grateful to eat one for a snack, just after playing sports.

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It also facilitates digestion, since only half a banana provides the 10% of the daily fiber you need. And its pectin content protects the digestive system. In addition, it has iron, folic acid, vitamin B12, and copper, which prevents anemia, as well as vitamin B6, which improves brain performance.

And best of all, most children tend to like bananas because of their sweet and intense flavor and, although their caloric value is higher than other fruits, it is perfect if they exercise afterward and provides a feeling of satiety.

You can consume it whole, in healthy sweets, in the form of lollipops, or as a drink. In addition, we leave you 19 banana recipes that show that they can help you eat healthily.

15. Cheese

This rich food is a source of calcium, a mineral that not only keeps bones and teeth strong but also helps keep muscles, nervous and circulatory systems in perfect condition. If your body doesn’t get enough calcium from your diet, it will pull it from your bones, which can weaken them.

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Although there is a variety of cheeses and some have more calcium and others less, on average cheeses provide 800 mg of calcium per 100 grams.

Those that are lower in fat (cottage cheese or fresh cheese) and with a milder flavor are advisable. You can eat it in strips alone or with bread.

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