It's getting easier to buy healthy pre-packaged snacks kids will actually enjoy.
Manufacturers have finally gotten the message that parents are tired of sugar-filled sweets, and they're filling the shelves with new, healthier, options, says Good Housekeeping Institute Nutrition Director Delia Hammock.
Even better, she
Fresh is always best, Hammock says, but, "Food manufacturers are listening to moms. They know they're concerned about nutrition. So they're getting rid of those trans fats, and there's less saturated fat (in the snacks). They're cutting down on sugar, having more natural, organic products, and putting more fiber in snacks."
Hammock offered some examples.
FUN LUNCH ADDITIONS/AFTER-SCHOOL SNACKS
Ready Pac Ready-to-Go Snack Cups with Savory Dips
These single serving packages are much healthier than those crackers and fake yellow cheese spreads that kids seem to love. Flavors include celery and peanut butter, apples and peanut butter, and veggies and light ranch dip.
"They're a great way to get your kids to eat fruits and vegetables if they won't eat them plain," Hammock points out.
Yoplait Go-Gurt Smoothies
Kids will love the flavors designed just for them, such as Strawberry Splash, Wild Berry and Paradise Punch. Parents will love the fact that each has only 120 calories, almost no fat, and is loaded with calcium.
"You do get the protein and calcium that you would in yogurt … but they come in these outrageous flavors kids love and they're small, so they're portion-controlled," Hammock notes.
If your kids want cookies, you could hand them these. Kid tasters agree the Peanut Butter, Chocolate Brownie and Caramel Apple bars taste just like cookies. The Clif bars are organic, have as much calcium as a glass of milk, and zero trans fats.
Back to Nature Cinnamon Graham Sticks
Graham crackers are always a crowd pleaser, and these have no trans fats, saturated fat, or artificial flavors. They're also low in sugar, but still tasty.
Popsicle: Fairly Odd Parents Pop Ups
Another low-sugar sweet treat. These frozen treats have 25 percent less sugar than regular sherbet and are low in fat.
Breakfast is all about carbs, but few kid-friendly foods contain "good carbs," in other words, whole grains. There are some tasty exceptions. Among them:
Pepperidge Farm 100% Whole Wheat Mini Bagels
These went over big with kid tasters. Many whole wheat breads have "funny seeds and nuts," but these bagels have a smooth texture and good flavor. Kids will never guess they're full of whole-grain goodness.
Kellog's Tiger Power Cereal and Kashi Mighty Bites
Both are fortified, lightly sweetened, whole-grain cereals that deliver great taste in fun shapes.
Sometimes you just need to feed your kids a fast meal, but you feel guilty giving them a frozen dinner full of fat, sugar and additives. There's no need to feel guilty about serving any of these:
Boca Meatless Chili
This has only a fraction of the fat and calories of most chili con carnes on the market, in part because it's made with soy protein.
Whole Foods Whole Catch Lightly Breaded Fish Sticks
These fish sticks are truly cut from whole fish, not made from minced and processed pieces. They have 30 percent less fat than many other brands, and no trans fat.