I was chatting recently with a fellow mom at the local playground. My four-year-old daughter was munching on cucumber slices as if they were jelly beans and the woman looked in amazement. She mentioned that her kids refuse to eat most vegetables and that it’s very difficult to get them to even try anything new. ‘How can I get my kids to eat healthy?’ she asked. My response? ‘It’s how you sell it.’ Here are some lunchbox snack ideas that taste even better than they sound. They’ll even work well for after school snacking, too!
Fairy Berry Sandwiches
Many people don’t know this, but peanuts are just as high in antioxidants as berries and cherries. One of these antioxidants is resveratrol, which can also be found in red wine. A PB & J combo is not only relatively low in sugar; it is a boon of antioxidants.
8 whole-grain crackers (all-natural ingredients only, no preservatives) or Gluten-Free crackers
2 tablespoons Creamy peanut butter
2 tablespoons Jelly (cherry, strawberry, blueberry, blackberry or raspberry)
Spread four crackers with peanut butter and four with jelly to make four mini sandwiches. Serves one.
Note: The peanut butter should have only peanuts and salt as ingredients. The jelly should not have sugar, fructose, aspartame, Splenda, or any other sweetener. Acceptable sweetener: concentrate fruit juice. I like “St. Dalfour” and “Polaner”. I know Polaner also makes a “sugar-free” jelly with Splenda, which is considered natural, but the jelly has a ton of artificial ingredients that are completely unnecessary for either you or your child.
Green Pigs in a Blanket
Cucumbers are rich in vitamins A and C and also contain silica, a mineral known for improving skin, hair and nails. Make sure you keep the peel on.
One small cucumber (mini cucumber, Kirby, or 1/3 English cucumber)
One slice low-fat mozzarella or Swiss cheese
Cut the cucumber in half. Cut cheese slice in half. Wrap cheese around each cucumber slice and attach with toothpick. Serves one.
Confetti Trail Mix
Nuts and seeds are chock-full of vitamins, minerals, fiber and essential fatty acids. Dried fruits are high in sugar, but are also a good source of fiber. Together with nuts they satisfy those sweet/salty cravings.
¼ cup walnuts
¼ cup sunflower seeds
¼ cup almonds (skins removed)
¼ cup cashews
¼ cup yellow raisins
¼ cup dried cranberries
¼ cup dates, chopped
¼ cup dried apricots, chopped
Chop the walnuts, almonds and cashews. Mix everything together and store in airtight container. Makes four servings.
Note: All nuts & seeds should be unsalted. If possible, get dried fruits that are without preservatives. Feel free to omit/substitute any of these items. For a slimming version, omit all dried fruit and replace with a handful of dark chocolate chips. This will be eight servings.