If you have kids, summertime probably means they’re watching TV at home, playing outside more, going on trips, going to camp, and enjoying sports. That sure is true for many of our Smiles of Punta Gorda team members who are parents!
No matter what summer looks like for your family, it’s a good time to catch up on other things besides all these activities. That includes taking a good look at your pantry and fridge and seeing how you can improve what’s inside.
To keep your kids’ teeth and bodies healthy for the rest of the summer and beyond, take a few minutes to read these ideas for healthy snacks for kids. Then contact our Punta Gorda, FL dentist office at 941-585-0424 to keep their teeth in great shape.
Look for Foods High in Protein
With the kids home more, they’re likely to be rummaging around for snacks. (If you have teens, it may feel like they’re raiding your kitchen!) And they need good choices to replenish their energy.
Protein is a great source of energy. Dr. Martin’s daughters play softball, so his family knows protein is an important part of a balanced diet.
Here are some ideas for healthy protein snacks.
Slices, cubes, wedges, string cheese, and even cottage cheese are excellent choices for snacks. Not only are they high in protein, they’re also high in calcium. This mineral is good for strengthening bones and teeth.
Serve cheese alone or with whole-wheat crackers, on whole-wheat bread, or with fruit slices. Look for natural, low-fat choices if possible.
Keep a stash of hardboiled eggs in the fridge. Go ahead and peel them and slice them lengthwise, so all the work is done for the kids. Little kids can make egg “boats” with the slices by adding a toothpick with a sail.
This is an overlooked snack for kids, but it’s a great way to get in fiber and protein, as well as healthier fats. You can purchase it from the store or make it at home. Look online for a recipe; just a few ingredients, a few bucks, and a few minutes will make several portions.
Serve with sliced vegetables, whole-wheat pita, whole-wheat crackers, or whole-grain chips.
Most kids like yogurt, so parents enjoy not having to talk their kids into eating this snack. Look for low-fat, low-sugar options. Greek yogurt has even more protein.
If you buy plain yogurt, let the kids add honey, coconut shavings, dark chocolate chips or peanut butter chips, walnuts, and other toppings. Or make yogurt fruit parfaits, smoothies, or popsicles! This makes a good dessert too.
This oldie but goodie still provides an excellent source of protein for kids. And it’s cheap! A little goes a long way for this filling favorite. Add on whole-wheat bread, crackers, or pita. Smear on celery and top with raisins for ants on a log. Blend with plain yogurt, honey, milk, and unsweetened cocoa powder for a sweet but healthy smoothie!
This is a good choice if your child is allergic to peanuts. (Check the label for cross-contamination, of course!) It’s also good on its own, served in the same ways as peanut butter.
Trail mix or nuts
This on-the-go snack is great if the kids are playing sports or away from the house. Just check that it’s mostly nuts and fruits, not candy.
Tuna salad is a good snack or meal. Add a little low-fat mayo, mustard, onions, celery – whatever you think tastes good and the kids will eat. Serve on whole-wheat bread, crackers, or pita. Just don’t indulge too much because of the mercury content.
Choose Foods Low in Added Sugars
It’s hard these days to find good snacks without a ton of added sugar. Bacteria in your mouth feed off sugar, which leads to cavities. Nearly 50 percent of kids have cavities by age 11. That’s why Dr. Martin and our hygienists check for them during every dental exam. If we do find them, we can use composite fillings to repair the teeth.
Watch the labels for added sugars. Just because it says “Made with natural fruit” or something similar doesn’t mean it’s healthy. Lean toward “raw” foods and natural sources of sugar. Here are a few examples.
Regardless of all the diet fads, fruit is a good source of fiber, vitamins, and minerals for kids. There’s evidence that some fruit such as apples may even be good for your teeth! Fruit comes in different forms: raw, frozen, and dried.
Kids like dried fruits like raisins, cherries, and pineapples, especially in trail mix. Cut fruit in slices to encourage them to eat it. You can even cut bananas into slices and serve with peanut butter. Or freeze banana slices with a little melted dark chocolate on top for a sweet treat!
Frozen fruit pieces make for great smoothies too. Just make sure the kiddos floss and brush before bed.
Water is the best drink for bodies and teeth, but fruit juice can be good on occasion too. Again, watch for added sugar and phrases like “fruit drink” or “made with fruit.” That usually means there’s added sugar. 100% fruit juice is best. Freeze in popsicle molds for a refreshing treat after the kids have been playing outside.
Some fruit-flavored yogurts have as much sugar as desserts! So again, compare labels. And as mentioned, you can always opt for plain yogurt and have the kids add their favorite fruit.
It’s always good to check with your child’s pediatrician or doctor for other nutrition tips, too. They’re likely to have even more ideas for healthy snacks for kids.
Smiles of Punta Gorda is dedicated to your family’s oral and overall health! For more dental health tips, or to schedule checkups for the whole family, call our Punta Gorda, FL dentist office at 941-585-0424. You can also use our online form.