Snacks for children: what to buy and what to prepare at home?

There is a bell that often frightens parents: that of leisure. Between preparations, aprons and backpack, we must not forget to give your children a snack that covers about 8-10% of the caloric intake of the daily requirement. This is actually the recommendation of the Instructions of the Ministry of Health on school focus: “It is recommended to share a snack in the middle of the morning in order to give the child, during the break, the necessary energy to keep the attention alive without burdening the digestion and to allow him to reach lunch with a proper appetite. This snack should provide a caloric intake of 8% – 10% of the daily need and preferably consist of fruits and vegetables for simple consumption “.

Packed snacks

Therefore, first of all It is important to know what foods children usually eat as a snack. Are they healthy foods or can you do better? Unfortunately, mothers often put their children in their backpacks packaged snacks, comfortable because they are ready and save time. But as you can imagine, there is a problem, or rather two: in the first place there is no snack on the market that is sufficient as a calorie intake compared to the recommendations of the guidelines mentioned earlier. Second, these snacks are not healthy because they all contain too much sugar and often too much fat, not to mention additives, preservatives, flavorings, chemical thickeners and so on. Below is an example of packaged snacks with added sugars, with an excessive amount of calories (over 400 kcal per 100 grams) and with a very large range of ingredients and industrial additives such as palm oil, glucose-fructose syrup, flavors, dextrose, lactose and others.

[Merendina contenente ben 34 grammi di zuccheri aggiunti (pari a 7 cucchiaini), oltre 400 calorie e latte industriale]

Packaged fruit juices

Attention should also be paid to packaged fruit juices where often there is even added sugar, as in the product below in the photo (fruit juices are already sweet as well as sugars in fruits plus

ncentrano, pressing it, and eliminating the fibers). Clearly they can not be a healthy snack when added with sugar. In the product shown here you will notice that the manufacturer has put even a warning sticker on the package, to inform parents that the product can cause obesity in children and that it should be used in moderation. It would be a very healthy snack if the pear juice was pure, or even better if the whole fruit was eaten.

[Brik di succo alla pera da 200 ml contenenti ben 29 grammi di zuccheri, pari a 6 cucchiaini di zucchero]

Sweet drinks

Soft drinks with sugar in the diet of children, including iced tea for the summer, are definitely not recommended. On the contrary, regular use is a risk factor for obesity. In fact, a glass of sugary drink contains about 20 grams of sugar, so 80 calories (equal to 4 teaspoons of sugar). So how can children get used to these drinks? Not buying them. The eye does not see, the heart does not hurt. In addition, it would be useful if these drinks were not included in school vending machines. This is possible with the proper awareness of the school principals of the Institute in order to supply the distributors with healthier snacks. Some institutes have already taken positive steps in this regard. In addition, most of these drinks contain orthophosphoric acida weak acid capable of mobilizing calcium from bones and phosphoric acid, one of the reasons why these drinks do not look too sweet in taste, despite the sugars there and all in the blood.

Creams that are spread

Children love them but also adults. It is a pity that the most famous and the most bought are exactly these less healthy. For years, the spreads market has been dominated by companies selling creams with sugar and palm oil for over 70% of the product, and only a hazelnut and cocoa paste. Fortunately, however, they have been on the market for some years now creams with a hazelnut content that exceeds 45% and sometimes reaches 60% of the product or even 100%. The fact remains that a cream that is spread can be prepared at home, with a little effort and quality ingredients. You will easily find the recipe for the preparation on the internet.

We choose healthier or homemade snacks

There fresh fruits is the best choice ever. Children, in particular, should eat one or two fruits a day and a variety of vegetables. Therefore, a good opportunity to stick to this schedule is to give them fresh fruit as a snack, preferably in season. These weeks, for example, it’s time forstrawberries, so there is no contraindication to their consumption, except of course in case of allergy. Strawberries have very few calories (only 27 Kcal per 100g) and are rich in vitamin C and minerals. Bananas, apples and pears are always good and, if possible, we get our children used to tasting and appreciating the fruits of every season: peaches, apricots, cherries, kiwis (which are in season in May), oranges winter etc.

Another very healthy option is yoghurt and from dried fruit, also in combination if you want. However, it is good to serve them only natural white yogurt (preferably whole), those with fruit always contain added sugars and aromas in quantity. Familiarizing children with a more intense sweet taste than fruit or other natural foods (such as plums or dates, for example) is considered by nutritionists to be a serious mistake, as it often irreversibly and permanently changes the child’s tastes, which will keep leaning (even in adulthood) on flavors too sweet or salty of industrial snacks. Professor Franco Berrino, a leading expert on health and nutrition, has often warned get used to sugar is comparable to a drug, as it activates the same receptors (opiates) in our brain that are activated by cocaine and other addictive substances. A yogurt snack with a few nuts, hazelnuts or chopped almonds in it is definitely a healthy and adequate choice for the nutritional needs of children. Also there sweet dried fruits, such as plums, dried apricots, dates or dried figs, pineapple and dried apple, are all healthy choices that can give you energy, but without producing the harmful effects of sugar on blood sugar and insulin on the blood. . In fact, these foods still have all the fiber, antioxidants, vitamins and minerals that play a role.regulatory action on the absorption of sugars on the body.

Once a week you can give your baby something that might be tastier. Here are some other examples of greedy snacks (to be rotated during the month):

Homemade cookies and cakes. Homemade preparation will be healthy because you can choose the best ingredients and reduce the doses of sugar in the recipe. Play early and prepare the cake for the weekend, it will be ready for the whole week. The cookies, on the other hand, last a few days longer and can be delivered in 2 weeks. It is advisable not to use the usual flour 00 to make cookies, but to prefer more wholemeal flour and rich in nutrients such as buckwheat, wholemeal corn, oats, wheat flour type 2. also chopped hazelnuts in the dough, grate and a few pinches of cinnamon or ginger, to give a really complete nutrition and more natural flavors, which allow you to reduce the amount of sugar. In addition, it is important that the cookies have a thin thickness, this way baking in the oven can only take 10-15 minutes and you will avoid destroying the good fat of the product on the entire outer surface. By the way, always use eggs to make cakes and cookies. Not in margarine, sunflower oil or vegetable oils of any kind when cooked in the oven (except those high in antioxidants such as extra virgin olive oil): in fact, their unsaturated fats change rapidly with heat, as opposed to saturated fats. fats. butter and eggs that withstand high temperatures well and do not oxidize. Oxidized fats are one of the main causes of inflammation and cardiovascular damage. Finally, it would be helpful to use a little sugar for the dough and possibly just integral stick (not to be confused with this rough cane, which is refined).

2 – Fruit and fruit salad: a healthy snack that children appreciate at the same time. To be prepared in the morning with 2-3 different fruits, it can be combined with orange or lemon juice to keep it for a few hours (citric acid and vitamin C prevent the oxidation of the fruit). Get colorful plastic containers that open easily. If you have very little time, you can always give children a fruit: nutritious, healthy and practical.

3 – Cereal bars homemade. Or a mixture of dried fruit with a few chocolate cubes. A delicious snack rich in minerals and energy.

4 – Alternative sweet snacks with savory: one flat bread (better if it is homemade, but it is also good if bought fresh from the baker) or small ham sandwich. Did you cook grilled vegetables last night? Set aside a bit to fill a sandwich with a few slices of salami (prefer raw ham, speck and bresaola among the many available) and a few Grana or Parmesan cubes. It is definitely a nutritious snack that adapts to the needs of children.

Finally, if you are a business parent and passionate about cooking, there are many other viable options for home-made and healthy snacks (and breakfasts), of which you will surely find many recipes on the internet, such as sugar-free cookies, muffins, plum cakes, smoothies and much more.

[di Gianpaolo Usai]

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