By: Denise Henderson
Founder and Mom
Once I had kids I started thinking about food from a much different perspective. This is especially true when it comes to the concept of what a “snack” is and what I was trying accomplish with it. We know that a child’s brain grows the most in the first 3 years of life. We also know that the connections that a child continually and repetitively uses will gain strength, while those that are used less frequently will fade. This is called synaptic pruning. It actually helps the brain work more efficiently. This is why when they are little we are so busy repeating important things. We frequently read to them, talk to them, sing to them, teach them to walk, encourage them to sleep, and provide toys that stimulate them developmentally. Or in this little guy’s case, encourage them to help mom unload the groceries! So obviously the food we offer and encourage them to eat during this time has a great deal to do with their future food choices and preferences, as well as, brain development. That is why I am spending this week talking about rethinking the snack.
The Food Pyramid for Young Children, which can be used for kids between 2 and 6 years, recommends that they get 3 servings of vegetables and 2 servings of fruit each day for a total of 5 servings across both groups http://pediatrics.about.com/cs/weeklyquestion/l/blask_050802.htm. But heads up everyone; once your child turns 6 those numbers change to 3-5 for veggies and 2-4 for fruits daily for a total of 9 servings across both groups. Given that this is what we are going to try to accomplish daily, for healthy growth and development, doesn’t it make sense that snacks be as nutrient rich as meals and include fruits and vegetables?
I get it, I like quick and easy too. How do we accomplish this easily with the 1-3 crowd so that once we are 6 years and older, the “morning back pack snack” that has a fruit and or a veggie in it isn’t such a bummer!
Here are some great 1-3 year old snacks that set the table, or back pack if you will, for future healthy snacking preferences:
1.) At Home: – As you know I am a HUGE fan of superfoods so I love mangos, papaya, blueberries, peaches, apricots, avocados and cantaloupe. For veggies, I am a fan of peeled broccoli, peeled carrots and red bell pepper. Batch cook these foods so they are slightly mushy. Cut them into pieces appropriate for your child’s age. Keep them in the refrigerator. You will easily go through them if you include them in your daily snack routine. A small portion of cut up papaya, mushy carrot pieces and a handful of whatever organic cereal you are buying. I love the Kashi line of cereals. They offer many choices packed with vitamins and minerals. Also these will be foods your child will actually eat as they get older. Why introduce them later when you can make them part of their routine now. You can arrange it so that it looks funny on their plate and snack time it is! I used to love using avocado as a spread. I would spread it on my kids’ organic “Os” then arrange them as a hair-do on the plate!
2.)On The Go: – This may seem tricker but not really. Invest in some reuseable snackbags. Galt Toy sells the Itzy Ritzy line. Both local Chicago companies and we love local. http://www.galtbaby.com/food-storage-containers.html. If you are going to be out for a while, load these up with your family’s favorite nutritious breakfast cereal and some dehyrated fruits and veggies. For dehydrated fruits and veggies I love the “Just” line. Organic O’s with dehydrated organic mango and peas YUM! If you are packing some dry and some wet, use the bag for the dry items. Save the “wetter” snacks for a sippy cup. I had tons of them and I am sure you do too. They aren’t just for milk, water or diluted juice! Put your cut blueberries, mangos and/ or red bell peppers in them and off you go.
Don’t forget that the Square One Organics – Organic Mango cup is an excellent part of a healthy snack. Only two ingredients in every cup – Organic Mango and water. Throw it in your diaper bag frozen and in 30 minutes awesome mango slush. We cook all of our purees so they are safe to eat right after they thaw. Sorry, for the shameless brand shout out!
For other snack ideas go to my website www.squareoneorganics.com and click on “Cooking with Square One” , I go a little crazy with a melon baller and a loaf of organic pumpkin bread made with SQ1 organic pumpkin puree.
Good luck and remember we are working toward 5-9 servings of fruits and veggies a day, while at the same time repeatedly feeding them nutrient rich foods. Our mission is to get these growing brains to hang on to the healthy food connection we are repeating and synaptic prune or weed out less frequent exposures to processed foods and saturated fats. That is why at SQ1 we say every time your child eats it is an opportunity to make a positive impact on growth and development.