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Health & Parenting

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The 9 Worst Summer Snacks and Treats for Kids

Warm-weather treats to avoid, plus 9 healthy snack alternatives.

Healthy Snacks for Summer

Carrot sticks or ice cream sandwich? There's probably no contest from a kid's perspective. But there are ways to keep kids from constantly clamoring for less-than-healthy snacks.

"Eating at regular intervals discourages kids from grazing, which is that near-continuous nibbling or drinking, or both, throughout the day," says Sothern.

That's not to say that healthy snacks don't have their place in a child's diet. Whether you're on the road, spending the day at the beach, or hanging out in the backyard, Sothern recommends keeping healthy, low-calorie snacks on hand and doling them out in reasonable portions.

And just what constitutes a healthy snack for kids? Snacks should offer vitamins, minerals, and fiber, and should be enough to take the edge off a child's hunger, but not squelch it.

Remember that liquid calories count, too. Keep water handy to avoid buying soda, lemonade, or fruit drinks. Or, concoct a refreshing, low-sugar spritzer with equal parts 100% fruit juice and club soda.

Here are nine simple summer snacks that offer good nutrition for the calories:

  1. Any frozen treat under 150 calories per serving, such as fudge bars, fruit bars, "light" and "slow-churned" ice creams and sherbet (you can also freeze yogurt sold in tubes).
  2. Homemade frozen fruit pops made with 100% fruit juice and frozen berries.
  3. Fruit and yogurt parfaits: Layer low-fat vanilla yogurt with fresh fruit.
  4. Frozen fruit, such as chunks of watermelon, cantaloupe, and honeydew with low-fat fruit yogurt for dipping.
  5. Homemade smoothie made with milk, fresh fruit, and crushed ice.
  6. Homemade trail mix: Mix single-serve low-fat microwave popcorn with shelled pistachios and dried fruit, such as raisins or cranberries.
  7. Mini whole-wheat bagels spread with peanut, almond, cashew, or sunflower seed butter.
  8. Sliced red and green bell peppers, baby carrots, and hummus for dipping.
  9. Whole fresh strawberries dipped in melted dark chocolate.

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Reviewed on July 14, 2009

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