Choosing the best snacks to fill little bellies

Ants on a Log

Ants on a Log – a cute and easy snacktime combo

When it comes to our children, we all try to ensure that they are getting the most nutritional bang for the buck during meals, but sometimes it can be more of a challenge when it comes to snacktime.

These are many reasons healthy and nutritious snacks can be either just as important as meal time – or sometimes even MORE important. Meal time can sometimes be a tough time for some children – they might not be hungry at meal time, not like the food they are given, or might rather play instead of eat. 

But what snacks are best for filling little bellies?

Cornell University researcher Brian Wansink, PhD, asked this question in a study published recently in PediatricsAssociation of Nutrient-Dense Snack Combinations With Calories and Vegetable Intake

During the study, Wansink and his colleagues allowed over 180 children (grade 3-6) to munch to their heart’s content while watching about 45 minutes of TV, during which they were provided an unlimited amount of one of the following four options:

  • chips
  • cheese
  • veggies (carrots, peppers, broccoli) or
  • a combination of cheese and veggies 

The children were encouraged to “eat all you wish” of their plentiful snacks and their level of fullness (also known as satiety) was measured.

The results uncovered that the children who had access only to the chips consumed slightly over 600 calories while those in the combo group (cheese and veggies) consumed only 170 calories to feel full.

Those in the cheese only group ate 200 calories whereas the veggies group consumed a mere 60 calories, on average, to feel full.

When looking at the snack that gave the kiddies the most nutrient bang for the buck, the cheese and veggie combo group was the clear winner.  

The combo not only satisfied them at over 70 per cent less calories than the chips group, but the cheese and variety of veggies together also provided the most robust combination of nutrients of all the snack groups.

Cheese is an excellent source of calcium and protein, and veggies provide vitamins, minerals and fibre.

The conclusion of the study was that “the combination snack of vegetables and cheese can be an effective means for children to reduce caloric intake while snacking.”

See below for some more nutritious combination snacktime Ideas:

  • Bell pepper strips, cucumber slices and baby carrots dipped in hummus
  • Cut up fresh fruit dipped in yogurt
  • Homemade trail mix made with cereal, dried fruit, nuts or seeds, shaved coconut and chocolate chips
  • Whole grain crackers topped with your child’s favourite cheese
  • And here is one of my personal favourites, which is so cute and easy:

Ants on a Log

Ingredients:

  • 5 stalks celery
  • 1/2 cup peanut butter or nut free soy based spread
  • 1/4 cup raisins

Directions

  1. Cut the celery stalks in half 
  2. Spread with peanut butter or nut free spy based spread.
  3. Sprinkle with raisins

Feel free to share with us some of your favourite snack combos!

Kristin Harris is a registered dietitian with Kids Eat Smart Foundation Newfoundland and Labrador.
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