Skip the Toxins and Make Healthy Snacks for the Kids
Packaged foods have a big impact on our kids' health—and not just because of the ingredients. According to two recent scientific studies, the packaging itself leaves chemical residues in the food. The good news is you can skip the toxins and make your own healthy snacks for the kids.
Research has found that children exposed to the chemicals in food packaging are more likely to be obese or develop insulin resistance, a precursor to diabetes. One study in the journal PLOS ONE, found a link between obesity and Bisphenol-A (BPA), used in everything from metal cans to plastic bottles, while another study, published in the September issue of Pediatrics, reviewed the relationship of insulin resistance in children and exposure to phthalates, chemicals found in plastic containers and bags.
An easy solution to limit kids’ exposure to chemicals is to reduce the amount of packaged foods they consume. You may have to spend more time in the kitchen as you upgrade your snack routine, but you can turn it into more quality time with your kids.
Kid-Friendly Healthy Snacks & Activities
While it may be tempting to buy apple slices in a plastic bag, why not take the kids to the orchard? Plan a day trip to go apple picking and let your kids see where their food is grown. When you get home, you can turn apples into a quick applesauce on the stove or just enjoy apple slices with a squeeze of lemon and dash of cinnamon for a sweet treat. If you can't get out to an orchard, try buying whole fruit at a farmer's market or green grocer and slice it up when the kids are ready to eat.
You can also use apples (or pears or cucumbers) in place of crackers. Slice the fruit into a circle or square and top with whatever you like. Try a local cheese, almond butter, or a homemade dip. These snacks can easily get packed in a lunch box or made at home after school.
Children can learn to make their own snacks or be part of the prep work. A great after-school snack is a smoothie with greens and fruit. Try 1 cup of spinach or kale, 1 banana, 1 cup of frozen mixed berries (or fresh berries), and 1-2 cups of water. Kids can load the blender and then watch as it all liquifies. You can also pack smoothies to go, if you are rushing off to after-school activities.
Don't want the clean up? No problem. Buy some skewers at the store and let the kids make their own fruit kabobs. They can dip them in yogurt or a nut butter. Or, take advantage of the bulk section of your grocery store and make this easy granola for the week.
3 cups old-fashioned oats
1/2 cup of slivered almonds
1/2 cup shelled sunflower seeds
1/2 cup unsweetened shredded coconut
2 tablespoons of cinnamon
1/4 cup maple syrup
Preheat oven to 300°F. Mix all dry ingredients in a large bowl. Add maple syrup and blend. Place the granola in a 1/2-inch thick layer on two cookie sheets and bake for 25 minutes or until crisp. Let cool. Store in your favorite jar.
Serve with chopped fruit, yogurt, or coconut milk.