With our little threenager's impending entry into preschool, I was feeling relieved about the rumors (and downright claims) that this particular school program is known to be "strict" and "healthy" in their nutrition policies.
Awesome! I got 99 worries, but a snack ain't one! :-P
Then, this curious little packet arrived in the mail. Along with doctor forms, emergency contacts, and mandatory meetings came a sheet claiming to educate parents, like myself, about what is considered a 'healthy snack'. This…..THIS is what they wrote:
WHAT in the graham cracker did I just read?!?!
A few of the items, at least, are in fact healthy. However, my biggest problem with this list is that it comes from an authority that claims to have a superior understanding of what we *should* be feeding our children. This means that some parents without much knowledge in nutrition may trust and follow these guidelines in hopes of nourishing their kiddos. If goldfish and graham crackers are a healthy, everyday-type snack, what do they consider a treat?!
I do not judge others' decisions for what they feed their families, when, why, etc. I like to believe that everyone is doing the best they know how. I also believe this is one of my purposes in life - to help raise the bar.
After posting this list on social media a couple of weeks ago, some of you said you'd like to see me post a list of my own. So, I am!
**The following list takes into consideration that most schools are tree nut and peanut free these days. Although there are no overt peanuts or tree nuts in this list, many packages / ingredients will need to be double-checked to make sure they are in-line with your school's allergen policy.
Feel free to use these ideas however you see fit - to send in for snack, to combine and give as a quick meal, or just enjoy at home with your kiddos. You will find some of these are meant to be paired together with other items on the list to balance it out, because….can you really eat hummus by itself? ;-) (Give me a spoon - I certainly can!)
- Dried chickpeas
- Cheese stick (organic, if possible)
- Fruit - apple, banana, fruit salad
- Sunflower seed butter
- Guacamole (with a squeeze of lemon or lime juice)
- Seed crackers (such as Mary's Gone Crackers brand)
- 100% whole grain crackers
- Raw veggies - peppers, halved grape tomatoes, carrots, broccoli, cauliflower, cucumber, snap peas, green beans, halved olives
- "Chips" made from baked sweet potatoes, zucchini, beets, or kale
- Homemade granola (99.9% of store-bought has added sugar)
- Apple "nachos" - include sunflower seed butter, hemp seeds, and coconut flakes
- Trail mix with just seeds and dried fruit (goji berries, raisins)
- Freeze-dried fruit
- Hardboiled eggs or deviled eggs
- Celery with sunflower seed butter or tahini and raisins ("ants on a log")
- Air-popped (organic) popcorn
- Seed pretzels (such as Mary's Gone Crackers brand)
- Yogurt (coconut or Greek - unsweetened and plain…send in fruit to dress it up)
- Applesauce (make yourself or buy organic with no added ingredients)
- Savory yogurt dip (add spices, herbs such as dill, etc.
- Chia seed pudding
- Brown rice cakes
- Yogurt parfait - layer yogurt with fruit, seeds, granola, a layer of chia seed pudding, etc.
- A smoothie
- Small portion of leftovers or soup (a small thermos is helpful here)
As a special treat for holidays, birthdays, or other celebrations, consider sending in a homemade / healthy muffin or "cookies" such as those made from oats + banana.
I hope this helps!
In good health,