I was flat-out shocked to see this new list of top 10 kids' snack foods from NPD market research this morning. Fresh fruit and cheese aren't bad, but potato chips, hard candy, and donuts? Seriously?! It's no wonder our kids are increasingly likely to develop type 2 diabetes at a young age.
Top Ten Growing Snack-Oriented Foods
Among Kids 2-17, 2009 vs 2008
2. Potato Chips
3. Fresh Fruit
4. String Cheese/Prepackaged Cheese Cubes/Shapes
5. Hard Candy
6. Ice/Fudge/Cream Pops
7. Chewy Candy
8. Corn Chips
10. Snack Pies/Pastries
And I worry that my kids are eating too many whole-grain crackers. In my house, yes perhaps an alternate universe, these are our top 5.
1. Rice cakes with almond butter or peanut butter. The Lundberg Caramel Corn rice cakes are especially popular in my house. They taste sweet with only 2 grams of sugar in each rice cake. Almond butter balances out the carbohydrates in the rice, making it a great pre-game or -activity snack.
2. Yogurt topped NPD's list, but I question how healthy most kids' yogurts are. Yogurt provides calcium and protein, and most also have beneficial bacteria (look for "live and active cultures"). But so many yogurt products (particularly those in tubes or individual serving-sized packages) are loaded with added sugar and food dyes, in which case the downsides outweigh the benefits. We like organic, plain whole-milk yogurt mixed with fresh or frozen blueberries, topped with a little honey or granola for sweetness.
4. Nuts. Sure they pack a caloric punch, but they also provide healthy fats and protein and reduce risk of heart disease.
5. Organic carrot and celery sticks with any of Annie's organic dressings, such as Cowgirl Ranch. (Note that in the latest "dirty dozen" from the Environmental Working Group, celery beat out peaches as the number one most pesticide-laden produce item. Pesticides can disrupt hormones and are particularly troublesome for children whose bodies cannot process them as efficiently as adults.)
Which healthy snacks top the list with your kids? Share your tips, and get more healthy snack recipes from Delicious Living.