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Summer snacks made cool, easy for kids
STARKVILLE, Miss. -- Keeping kids healthy during the summer can be a chore, but it does not have to be a bore.
Cool summer snacks for kids can be made easily and provide children with healthy benefits. It can be hard to get children to eat certain types of food, but if the snacks look delicious the task becomes easier.
Janet Jolley, family and consumer sciences agent with the Mississippi State University Extension Service in Marshall County, said there are simple snacks that can be made for kids during the summer. Fresh veggies or fruit with dip, frozen banana pops, trail mix, apples with peanut butter and celery with peanut butter are just a few.
Jolley said there are also snacks that more health-conscious parents can provide for their kids.
“Including a lot of fruit within the diet can provide children with more health benefits than certain other foods,” she said. “Cheese and grapes, fruit kabobs, parfaits, frozen yogurt bits and homemade fruit popsicles are among the healthier snacks parents can provide for their children.”
Many kids have food allergies, but Jolley said they still have plenty of options.
“For gluten-free snacks, kids can eat chocolate-drizzled sticks of fruit,” she said. “For kids with peanut allergies, fruit pizza is always a good choice. For lactose-intolerant kids, fresh fruit popsicles with strawberries and lemonade are tasty to eat.”
On-the-go snacks that can be kept in a cooler include carrots, fresh fruits, string cheese, sugar snap peas and squeezable fruit pouches. On-the-go snacks that do not need refrigeration include trail mixes, dry cereals, peanuts, almonds, no-bake cookies, homemade granola bars, dried fruits, sunflower seeds, animal crackers, graham crackers and fruit leather.
Jolley suggested parents and children work together to make frozen banana pops. Ingredients include cream cheese, yogurt, dark chocolate (melt with one tablespoon of coconut oil to three ounces of chocolate), peanut butter and any other type of dipping sauce the child might enjoy. Topping choices include mini chocolate chips, granola, oats, chopped nuts, crushed graham crackers, cookie crumbs, shredded coconut, sprinkles and chopped fruit.
“Line a cookie sheet with waxed or parchment paper. Prepare bananas by peeling, cutting in half or the size that you like,” she said. “Insert a popsicle stick into each banana piece. Spread your favorite spread onto the banana using a knife or dipping the banana. Roll the banana into your favorite topping or toppings. Place onto lined cookie sheet and freeze for two to four hours.”
Natasha Haynes, an MSU Extension Service agent in Rankin County and host of “The Food Factor,” offered a few simple summer snack ideas that provide good nutrition for a limited amount of calories.
She said any frozen treat less than 150 calories per serving, such as fudge bars, fruit bars, “light” and “slow-churned” ice creams and sherbet, are good choices. Also, homemade smoothies with milk, fresh fruit and crushed ice provide good nutritional value.
“Homemade trail mix is another option. Mix a single serving of low-fat microwave popcorn with nuts and dried fruits, such as raisins or cranberries, together,” Haynes said. “Mini whole-wheat bagels spread with peanut butter are another good option. Also, sliced red and green bell peppers or baby carrots with low-fat ranch dressing for dipping provides good nutritional benefits for children.”