August is Kids Eat Right Month. Encourage healthy eating by letting kids help prepare nutritious snacks. Getting kids involved in the kitchen will not only teach them about healthy foods, but it will also impart valuable skills that will stick with children for life, from eating right and safely handling foods to building math, science and fine motor skills.
Get started by whipping up these easy, no-cook snacks with your little one:
- Snack kebabs. Cut raw vegetables, fruit and low-fat cheese into chunks. Skewer them onto thin pretzel sticks. Food safety tip: Wash all fruit and vegetables first with cool tap water.
- Veggies with dips. Did you know that kids might be more likely to try new fruits and vegetables if they helped prepare them? Get kids involved in age-appropriate tasks. Cut various vegetables such as celery, zucchini, cucumbers and carrots into small pieces. Dip them into prepared salsa, hummus or low-fat dressing. Food safety tip: Wash the vegetables first.
- Banana pops. Peel a banana. Dip it in low-fat yogurt. Roll in crushed whole-grain cereal. Freeze. Food safety tip: Wash all produce, even produce with inedible peels like bananas. Also, follow these tips for safe freezing practices.
- Fruit slices and peanut butter. Spread peanut butter on apple or banana slices. Food safety tip: Wash apples and bananas. Also, be cautious of food allergies. If your child is allergic to peanuts, you can substitute a different butter like almond or sunflower.
- Fruit shakeups. Combine ½ cup low-fat fruit yogurt and ½ cup cold 100-percent fruit juice in a non-breakable, covered container. Make sure the lid is tight, shake it up and pour into a cup. For even more fun, have kids sing a song like “Hokey Pokey” and dance as they shake up the mixture. Food safety tip: Always use pasteurized juice instead of raw juice because there may be dangerous bacteria in raw juice.
- Sandwich cutouts. Cookie cutters aren’t just for cookies! Let your kids use fun-shaped cookie cutters to cut slices of low-fat cheese, lean meat and whole-grain bread.Then assemble sandwiches. Food safety tip: Some people are more vulnerable to the effects of food poisoning, including older adults, young children, pregnant women and those with weakened immune systems. If you are at a high-risk of food poisoning, avoid riskier foods including deli meats and soft cheeses.
- Peanut butter balls. Mix peanut butter and bran or cornflakes in a bowl. With clean hands, shape the mixture into balls. Roll the balls in crushed graham crackers. Food safety tip: Always wash hands for at least 20 seconds with soap and warm water before you touch food. (Make it a game with young children by singing the Happy Birthday song twice as you scrub.) Also, be cautious of peanut allergies.
- Ants on a log. Fill celery with peanut batter. Arrange raisins along the top. Food safety tip: Wash celery first. Also, be cautious of peanut allergies.
For more tips on getting children involved in the kitchen, as well as a listing of age-appropriate tasks (safety first!) see Teaching Kids to Cook, and learn more about Kids Eat Right Month at www.KidsEatRight.org.