5 Healthy Kids' Snack Tricks


A few weeks ago I handed my kids an apple for their snack, and they both told me that they didn’t like apples.

Shannon Yeatman and daughter Maddie, 2

Phila. Parents Create
Healthy Recipe Site

Looking for great recipes with healthy ingredients? Jon and Shannon Yeatman, Philadelphia parents of a 2-year-old and an infant, have created tastebudding.com, a website where parents can share recipes "that are good for the whole family and have natural and fresh ingredients."

Since the site's launch in February, parents have posted dozens of recipes in five categories: breakfasts, lunches, dinners, desserts and snacks. The site also includes a "Talk" section, where participants can post and discuss questions about food.

"Because our singular focus is on helping parents make it fun and healthy to eat with their kids, we do not include branded ingredients in the recipes – which is how many food sites will hide advertising," says Jon, who has worked as a cook and will complete a master's degree at Penn's Wharton School this month. "We also promote using fresh ingredients that are preservative-free and minimally processed."

The next day, I cut the same apple into slices, cut one end of each piece off so it was flat, placed them in a bowl standing up and told my kids that their snack today was “Apple Soldiers.” To my amazement, both my kids enthusiastically ate the apples and asked if they could have soldiers for their snack the next day.

Since many snacks are prime sources of extra sugar and fats, providing healthy snacks to your children is a great way to reduce the risk of childhood obesity.

Pediatrician Joanna Dolgoff, MD, author of Red Light, Green Light, Eat Right (Rodale Press, $21.99), recommends that parents provide their children with three meals and two snacks each day. “Snacking is an essential part of a healthy diet. Going too long without eating is one of the worst things you can do,” says Dr. Dolgoff. “Yes, you save calories initially but studies show that you more than make up for those calories during the rest of the day.”

One of the best ways to encourage your kids to eat healthy snacks is to not have junk food in the house. Instead, you can provide nutritious snacks that your kids will want to eat. Here are five healthy snack ideas.

1. Silly Names

Mary Chao, mother of three kids and owner of www.healthy-diet-mom.com, finds that her kids are more interested in eating healthy foods when she comes up with a silly name for them. She calls trail mix “treasure hunt trail mix” and lean turkey with cream cheese and carrots is “turkey rock ’n roll.”

Your kids may be more excited about eating broccoli florets if you call them “trees,” and grapes may be more enticing if they are “dinosaur eggs.” You can even have your kids help come up with names for different foods.

2. Fun Presentations

You can make nutritious snacks more appealing by presenting them in a different way. Make a funny face out of fruit on a plate and shred carrots for the hair. Or create a small house out of pretzel sticks and cheese cubes. An old standby that is still appealing to kids is making ants on a log by spreading peanut butter on celery sticks and placing raisins on top. Chao serves hardboiled eggs with olive slices on them to make them look like eyeballs.

3. Dips

Children love to use dips and will often eat veggies with dip that they wouldn’t otherwise eat. In addition to baby carrots, offer your child broccoli, cauliflower and celery with a small serving of dip.

Since many dressings are high in fat, Missy Chase Lapine, “the Sneaky Chef”and author of Sneaky Fitness: Fun, Foolproof Ways to Slip Fitness into Your Child’s Everyday Life, (Running Press, $19.95), suggests mixing the dressing with an equal part of plain yogurt.

Because many kids will use the veggies as lollipops and eat the dressing off the piece of broccoli, have your child eat the vegetable before they can get more dip. Vanilla yogurt can also be used as dip for cut-up fruits such as apples, bananas and pineapple.

Another way to get your child to eat vegetables is to serve them with a low-fat cheese fondue. This is a great snack for play dates and sleepovers.

4. Decoys

Sneaky S'mores

S'mores are a gooey, yummy, all-American camping and cook-out tradition, but they're usually a once-in-a-while indulgence.

With The Sneaky Chef's guiltless version, however, this sweet treat can be in your kids' regular rotation. They'll never tire of the classic combo of marshmallow and chocolate chips, and you'll never spill that there's a healthy, whole-grain cookie underneath!


  • 11⁄2 cup all-purpose flour (or half white flour combined with half whole grain flour)
  • 1⁄2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1⁄2 teaspoon salt
  • 1⁄2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
  • 1⁄2 cup light brown sugar, packed
  • 1 large egg yolk
  • 1⁄2 cup Orange Puree (see Make-Ahead Recipe below)
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips, divided
  • 1 cup mini marshmallows

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.In a large bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon. Set aside. In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat the butter and sugar until creamy. Beat in egg yolk, Orange Puree, and vanilla. Add dry ingredients and mix on low speed. Stir in 1⁄2 cup of the chocolate chips. Pinch off tablespoon amounts of dough and roll about 24 balls in your hands (wet your hands with water or spray them with oil to keep from sticking to dough).

Place on a parchment-lined cookie sheet about an inch apart. Gently press your thumb into the center of each ball to make a deep indent. Bake 16 to 18 minutes, or until golden brown. Remove cookies from oven and fill each indent with a couple of chocolate chips and mini marshmallows. Return cookies to oven for 1 more minute to just slightly melt the marshmallows and chocolate chips.

In her recipe for Sneaky S’mores, Lapine uses a carrot and sweet potato puree to provide important nutrients for her kids and reduce the amount of fat by half. She makes the treat attractive to kids by adding two small marshmallows and a couple of chocolate chips on the top as a “decoy.” The kids see the tiny treat and are more willing to eat the healthy food it decorates.

You can make trail mix more appealing by adding in a few chocolate chips. A few colored sprinkles can be used as a decoy on many foods, such as low-fat vanilla yogurt.

5. Mix-ups

Chao’s kids think it’s funny if she serves them a food at the “wrong time of day.” She sometimes serves low-sugar cereal with milk as an after-school snack or veggies and hummus in the morning. You can also serve the snack on bright colored plates or have your child eat it in interesting locations such as under the table or sitting on a picnic blanket on the living room floor.

As you experiment with healthy snacks for your kids, continue to offer their favorites, but be sure to try new foods and creative presentations. If your kids refuse a certain snack, try it again a few days later with a different name or new look.

Jennifer Gregory is a freelance writer.

Sneaky Chef Make-Ahead Recipe: Orange Puree


  • 1 medium sweet potato or yam, peeled and coarsely chopped
  • 3 medium to large carrots, peeled and sliced into thick chunks
  • 2 to 3 tablespoons water

Place the sweet potatoes and carrots in a medium-sized pot and cover with cold water. Bring to a boil and cook for about 20 minutes, until carrots are very tender. Careful if the carrots aren't tender enough, they may leave telltale little nuggets of vegetable in recipes, which will reveal their presence to your kids, a gigantic no-no for The Sneaky Chef. Drain the carrots and sweet potatoes and put them in the food processor with 2 tablespoons of water. Puree on high until completely smooth-until no pieces of vegetable show. Stop occasionally to push the contents to the bottom. If necessary, use another tablespoon of water to smooth out the puree, but the less water, the better.

This recipe makes about 2 cups of puree. Orange Puree will keep in the refrigerator for up to 3 days, or you can freeze 1⁄4-cup portions in sealed plastic bags or small plastic containers, and store for 3 months.

Nutrition Information: Per Serving (1 smore, 58g): Calories 130; Total Fat 6g; Fiber 2g; Total Carbohydrate 19g; Sugar 12g; Protein 1g; Sodium 101mg; Cholesterol 12mg; Calcium 20mg


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