No matter what time of day it is, we as parents can all agree on one thing: if we can combine snacking with a nutritious balance, we’re all in! Whether you’re working from home and need a quick solution, or it’s your turn to host play day and you’re feeding a group, registered dietitian Sally has three healthy and delicious must-try snack board ideas that will help fuel the little ones the right way.
If your kid’s snacking has gone a little off the rails this year, you’re not alone. With so many kids home more often, snacking has become a lot more frequent–and a lot more random.
Snack boards are one way to help get your kids’ between-meal nibbling under better control–because you decide what goes on them (and clean out the odds and ends from your fridge and pantry in the process), and your kids get a variety of foods to munch on.
Bonus: A “snack board” somehow feels and sounds more special than a regular ol’ snack.
Quick tips for building snack boards for kids
- Place familiar, favorite foods alongside unfamiliar or less favorite foods: Having well-liked, already-accepted foods on your snack board is key because it can help make those harder-sell foods less intimidating and more enticing.
- Include dips and spreads: Peanut butter, ketchup, BBQ, hummus, yogurt–they can all be vehicles to help your kids try unfamiliar or less-liked foods.
- Time it right: Keep snacks at least 1.5-2 hours away from meals so kids have time to build back an appetite.
Need inspiration? Here are three different snack boards that each emphasize a particular food or nutrient that may be lacking in your child’s diet lately. You should build your boards with the foods your family has and likes, but here are ideas to get you started.
Does your kid need more veggies?
Don’t reserve veggies just for meal time. Snacks are a great way to include more opportunities to see them and enjoy them.
What to include:
- Raw veggies: Consider including different shapes (like bell peppers cut into big rings), sweet veggies like carrots and snap peas, cucumber slices, and cherry or grape tomatoes. I also like including the inner, crunchy leaves of romaine lettuce hearts. They’re great for dipping (and can foster little salad eaters!).
- Dried veggies: The seasoned ones seem more like a salty snack than a veggie, but they can be a good way to help kids feel more comfortable with veggies (especially for those who have texture issues with raw and cooked veggies).
- Olives and pickles: If your kid likes them (or is learning to), put these in a little bowl on your board to avoid drips.
- Dips: Dips like ranch can encourage kids to eat more veggies.
- Round out your board with items like whole grain crackers, fruit, veggies, and cheese cubes.
Does your kid need more fruit?
Fruit supplies important nutrients like vitamins C and A plus fiber. They’re especially good snacks for kids who aren’t big fans of veggies.
What to include:
- Fresh fruit: Fill the board with easy-to-grab fresh apple and pear slices, washed berries, and sections of clementines.
- Freeze-dried (or dried) fruit: Freeze-dried fruit tastes like candy but typically contains just one ingredient (fruit).
- Dip: Consider including vanilla yogurt or even some melted chocolate for dipping.
- Round out your board with items like nuts, pretzels, raw veggies, and small slices of meat.
Does your kid need more protein?
Most kids get enough protein, but protein-rich snacks are helpful at snack time because they’re satisfying.
What to include:
- Meat: Roll up slices of deli meat or include chunks of leftover grilled chicken
- Cheese: It’s a good source of protein and calcium. Include cubes, slices, or spreadable cheese.
- Edamame: Many kids like popping these nutty, filling soybeans from their pods.
- Nuts and seeds: Choices like almonds, cashews, and sunflower or pumpkin seeds all deliver protein and fiber.
- Whole grains: They’re a richer source or protein than refined. Include whole grain crackers, small wedges of pita, or even a dish of popcorn (a natural whole grain).
- Round out your board with fresh fruit, veggies, and dips like nut butter or hummus.