Back to School: Healthy Snacks

Hawaii’s Department of Education (DOE) has nutritional guidelines for snacks sold, served, or provided to students in public schools. The nutritional standards are part of the DOE’s Wellness Guidelines for school administrators, teachers, staff, and parents.

The policy states that all snacks must:

* Contain less than 200 calories

* Have less than 8 grams fat (with the exception of nuts and seeds)

* Have less than 2 grams saturated fat

* Contain 0 trans fat

* Have less than 200 mg sodium

* Contain less than 8 grams sugar (with the exception of yogurt, which should have no more than 30 grams total sugar per 8-ounce portion).

As a former third grade public school teacher in Hawaii, I had the opportunity to see young students chow down on snacks. I noticed that kids love snacks. They’re often open-minded and eager to try anything new and enjoy eating what their siblings, cousins, teachers, and parents eat. Although it may be easier to throw a bag of potato chips into your child’s backpack or lunch, remember that healthy eating habits and values are instilled at a young age and have lasting results.

Here are five easy and simple snacks that meet the DOE’s nutritional guidelines and taste great!

1. Fruit kebabs

Insert a skewer into five to six pieces of diced fruit. Try apples, oranges, grapes, banana, and pears.

2. Homemade tortilla chips and salsa

Cut two corn tortillas into sixths with a kitchen scissors or pizza cutter. On a baking sheet lined with parchment paper, place triangles spaced about ¼-inch apart. Bake in preheated 350-degree oven for 20 minutes. Cool 5-10 minutes on a cooling rack. Serve with salsa.

3. Sweet potato chips

Thinly slice a peeled sweet potato. Place slices on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Bake in preheated 375-degree oven for 10 minutes. Flip chips and bake another 10 minutes. Cool 5-10 minutes on a cooling rack.

4. Nutty trail mix

Combine 1/8 cup almonds with 1/8 cup cashews (or any type of nuts). Add 1 tablespoon raisins and 1 tablespoon unsweetened coconut.

5. Carrot and celery sticks with hummus

Cut carrots and celery into eight bite-sized sticks. Serve with hummus.

What are your favorite kid-friendly snacks? How do you get your kids to eat healthier foods?