Are your 'healthy' classroom snacks really healthy? Ask the Nutritionista.

Don't be conned by 'healthy' snacks that are full of sugar. Tips for healthy classroom snacksDear Nutritionista, 

My 2nd grader’s teacher has asked parents to contribute healthy snacks for the kids in the afternoon. Are the fruit squeezies, roll ups and gummies really as healthy as they say they are? They are mostly fruit, right?
What would you suggest as a healthy snack that won’t break the bank if buying for a class of 27 hungry second graders?

Thanks,
Hoping to be Healthy

Dear Hoping to be Healthy,
In my most humble opinion the best fruit snack in the world is fruit. No juices, no gummies, no stretchy thingies – just plain ol’ fruit.

Here are my suggestions:

Easy Healthy Snacks for the Classroom

1. Raw veggies

I am often surprised by how enthusiastic some children can get about bite-sized, crunchy veggies. You can add ranch dressing dip if necessary.

2. Yogurt and berry parfaits

If the classroom has a refrigerator you can share a couple quart-sized containers of vanilla yogurt and serve it with frozen berries on top. Here are some tips for picking a yogurt that is healthy and not too high in sugar. With fruit, many children will happily chomp into plain greek yogurt too.

Easy, no nut, healthy snacks for the classroom3. Make your own easy trail mix

It takes a matter of a couple of minutes to make an easy nut-free trail mix that can be stored without refrigeration at school. Mix raisins, plain cheerios, and hulled sunflower seeds (check to make sure that sunflower seeds are allowed in the school) can be placed in a large storage bag and taken to school. The raisins provide some natural sweetness and fiber, the sunflower seeds give a yummy nutty taste plus protein and the cheerios provide a low sugar familiar mixer.

4. String cheese with sliced apples or whole-grain crackers

String cheese can be bought in bulk and provides a nice punch of protein for the afternoon snack. A bag of apples can be washed and cut at school for a lesson in fractions.

5. Fruit

Enough fruit for a class of 27 children could break your budget if you’re not careful. Make sure you’re picking a local fruit that’s in season for a tastier, cheaper option.
– Clementines and tangerines (even strawberries in Arizona) in winter and early spring
– Peaches, melons, plums and berries in June and July
– Apples in August through October

Why you should say no to fruit squeezies, gummies and roll ups

Processed fruit snacks often contain more sugar per ounce that actual fruit. A large green apple contains about 10 grams of sugar, but has 4 grams fiber and is more filling than an apple sauce squeezy with 12 grams of sugar and just 1 gram of fiber.

Keep it healthy,

Nutritionista

The Nutritionista (aka Laurie Ledford)  is a Registered Dietitian at Tucson Medical Center who uses her knowledge and experience every day to support patients making healthy nutrition choices and prevent or combat the major killers of our time. Have a question about something you’ve heard or seen about nutrition or diet? Send your question to the Nutritionista at tmcforwomen at gmail dot com. Check back on TMC for Women for Nutritionista’s blog posts.