With all the junk food and sugar-laden drinks floating around out there, it may seem hard to get your children to love healthy snacks. A simple way to convince your children to eat healthy food is to have them prepare it themselves or at least participate in the preparation of the food.
Kids may love the taste of packaged fruit snacks, but those often contain large amounts of extra sugar and in some cases food additives such as dyes. You can find no-sugar-added fruit leathers, but it's a lot more fun for you and your children to make your own. Homemade fruit leather is a great way to preserve and use up an abundance of berries during the summertime, too.
Turn your oven on to the lowest setting. Some ovens go to 150 degrees Fahrenheit, others won't go below 200 degrees. Trim the tops off of 4 cups of strawberries and rinse. You can also use raspberries or blueberries or a mix of the three. Put the fruit in a 4 quart saucepan, then add half a cup of water. Simmer, covered, over low heat for about 10 minutes, or until the fruit is very soft. Take the cover off and stir, mashing the fruit.
Taste the fruit and add a teaspoon of lemon juice at a time to improve the flavor. You may need to add a bit of sugar if your fruit was very tart, too. Simmer the mixture for another 10 minutes, until it is very thick. Puree in a blender, then spread the fruit on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Leave the fruit in the oven for about 8 hours, or until it has dried out and has a shiny, smooth surface.
The classic after-school healthy snack is very simple and easy for children to make themselves. Cut celery into 4 inch sticks. Spread peanut butter or cream cheese on the celery. Top the cream cheese with a row of raisins for the "ants."
Use a whole grain tortilla and low-fat cheese to make the quesadillas healthy. Heat a cast iron skillet or non-stick skillet over medium heat. Place a corn or whole wheat tortilla on the skillet, then top with an ounce of low-fat Monterey jack or cheddar cheese. Add a dollop of salsa or chopped vegetables and fold the tortilla over to make a pocket. Cook for a few minutes on one side, then flip over and cook until golden brown on the other side. The cheese should be melted. Cut into triangles and serve.
Sweet potatoes have more vitamins than regular potatoes. Baking the fries instead of frying them in oil makes them a bit healthier as well. Cut a sweet potato into fry shaped sticks or into rounds for chips. Preheat your oven to 400 degrees and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Place the cut potato in a bowl, then drizzle two teaspoons of olive oil over top. Stir to coat the potatoes. Season with salt and pepper or a dash of sugar and cinnamon. Bake for 25 minutes, turning the fries halfway through.
These easy, healthy snacks will keep everyone in the family a happy camper.