Healthy snacks for active children
Nutrition is essential for good health across all ages and all activity levels, but active kids need that little bit extra to fuel their bodies for growth and development.
Popping some healthy snacks in their lunchbox or having some options on hand for when they come rushing through the door in the afternoon can help provide sustained energy for activities. Today we’ll look at some healthy snack ideas and talk about how to build a healthy snack.
Carbohydrates are the body’s main source of fuel. When we eat complex carbohydrates like wholegrains, fruits and legumes, our bodies slowly break these down into sugars to use for energy. Without carbohydrates, we can have trouble focusing, become tired and lethargic and can’t perform exercise as well. Be sure to include a carbohydrate component in your child’s snack to sustain them throughout the day.¹, ²
Protein is essential for muscle growth and development, especially for children as their bodies are growing at such a rapid rate. After exercise is a great time to sneak in some extra protein, as it helps our muscles recover and repair. Protein also helps keep us fuller for longer, so it’s a great component of an afternoon snack to keep your kids going until dinner time. Nuts, yoghurt, cheese or lean meats are all great sources of protein.¹, ²
Fats aren’t something to shy away from, especially for active kids. They’re a great source of energy and provide essential vitamins and minerals to encourage optimal growth. Healthy fats like oily fish, nuts or avocado help keep us full and also help maintain a healthy heart.¹, ²
Water is the best choice to help active kids stay hydrated. Sports drinks and fruit juices are often very high in sugar and can be filling for small tummies, which means they miss out on essential nutrients from wholefoods. Encourage your child to take a water bottle to school and sip on it throughout the day, especially when exercising.³
Now we’ve talked about the building blocks of a healthy snack, try some of these ideas for your next afternoon tea:
- apple and peanut butter
- yoghurt and fruit
- fruit smoothie
- zucchini slice
- savoury muffins
- pikelets made from oats, egg and mashed banana, topped with berries and yoghurt
- wholegrain crackers with cheese, tomato and tuna
- wholegrain toast with banana and peanut butter
- homemade mini pizzas – see our recipe for mini sweet potato pizzas!
Mini sweet potato pizzas
- 1 large potato, sliced into 1cm-thick rounds
- 1 large sweet potato, sliced into 1cm-thick rounds
- 1 teaspoon olive oil
- 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
- 1/2 cup no-added-salt tomato paste
- 1/2 small red onion, finely sliced
- 1/2 cup frozen corn kernels
- 8 small mushrooms, sliced
- 2 tablespoons chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
- 1/2 cup grated reduced-fat mozzarella
- 16 cherry tomatoes, halved.
- Preheat the oven to 200°C. Line a large baking tray with baking paper. Evenly spread potato and sweet potato slices in a single layer on tray (don’t use pointy ends). Drizzle with olive oil. Place slices in the oven and cook for 15 minutes until the potatoes start to soften. Remove and set aside to cool slightly.
- Meanwhile, combine garlic and tomato paste in a bowl.
- When potato bases are cool enough to handle, dollop a teaspoonful of tomato paste on each one, spreading evenly with back of the spoon. Layer onion, corn and mushrooms. Sprinkle over herbs and cheese. Finish mini pizzas with tomato halves.
- Return to oven and cook for another 12 minutes, or until the cheese is melted and the bases are cooked through. Serve pizzas warm or at room temperature.
- Nutrient Reference Values
- Australian Dietary Guidelines
- Sports Dietitian’s Australia. Half time snacks for active kids.
Last updated: June 23, 2021 at: 8:52 am