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Kids love to snack. The cries of "I'm starving, what can I eat now?!" are all too familiar for most parents. The problem is that many snacks can be full of saturated fat, salt and sugar. Eating too much of these over time can lead to serious health problems, so it's important to have healthy alternatives to hand when your wee one comes along demanding crisps and chocolate.

We've got some great ideas for quick, low-cost healthy snacks for busy families. When you're out and about our snack heroes will help fight hunger, or if you're looking for an after school nibble why not try one of our snack recipes? Making a few weekly changes can help keep your kids happy and healthy.

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Snack recipes

These quick and tasty snacks are great to grab on the go, or to give to kids after school. You can also make snacking more fun by preparing food together. Hopefully it will take their mind off being hungry for a wee while, while getting them to try something new.

After school snack ideas

Fruit Tricks

  • Give your kids pieces of apple, melon, strawberries, grapes, whatever's in the kitchen – remember to chop the grapes up. Look out for fruit that's in season, it's likely to be cheaper.
  • Serve it in a bowl as a fruit pick 'n' mix, or on a skewer as a fruit kebab.

Sweet Treats

  • If you're having a pudding, try sugar-free yoghurt or sugar-free jelly.
  • Freeze a banana and mash it up. It's just like ice cream!
  • Pop some grapes in the freezer and cut into smaller pieces before serving (you will want to make sure you chop the grapes up before they go in the freezer) – a great wee snack for cooling kids down.

Chips & Dips

  • Toasted wraps or pitta and lower fat dips like salsa, low fat yogurt or reduced-fat hummus make a tasty snack.
  • Rice cakes go well with lower fat cream cheese and cucumber.
  • Try unsalted rice cakes, oatcakes or crackers topped with low fat cheddar.
  • Cucumber, carrot or pepper sticks with a low fat dip are easy to make and fun to eat.

Lunch box snacks

Adding veggies to your child’s packed lunch is a great way of ensuring they get their 5 a day – but will they eat them? Here are a few ideas that might entice them:

  • Children often prefer uncooked or raw veg as it is sweeter, crunchier and more colourful. It’s also easier for you to prepare – win win!
  • Include a handful of raw snack veg like carrots, peppers and celery in their lunch box. It may go down better if you pack some low fat dip as well, like hummus or cream cheese.
  • Make veg fun by threading chopped peppers, mushrooms, cherry tomatoes, radishes, cubed cucumber or beetroot onto a lolly stick or skewer. Yum!

You can find more healthy tips on the Veg Power website.

It's important to remember this is just one part of your child’s lunchbox and should be considered alongside other healthy food groups as part of a balanced meal.

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Top snacking tips and tricks

Tip #1: 'Saving money' snacks

Sometimes things branded as 'kiddy snacks' with bright colours and pictures can be more expensive, even though they're no different from adult versions. By reading the labels and checking the prices, you can save yourself some money. For example, don't bother with the little 'kid-sized' packs of raisins. Just buy a bigger packet and separate into smaller portions yourself!

Own-brand items are often just as good as branded and much cheaper.

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Tip #2: Look at your portion size

Because bigger sizes are cheaper and usually on offer, we often end up buying and eating much more than we need.

When kids ask for a snack, don't let them help themselves from the bag/packet. If they say they're still hungry, offer them fruit or plain popcorn. Instead of a whole bag of crisps, try putting just a handful from the bag in the bowl.

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Tip #3: Check the labels

When you're out and about compare different products to find foods lower in fat, saturated fat, sugar and salt.

For a healthier choice, try to go for snacks with green and amber nutrition labels - avoid red as much as possible.

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Tip #4: Think about the drink

Fizzy drinks make up a quarter of children's added sugar intake and should be the first thing to go from your child's daily diet. Why not try swapping fizzy juice for a sugar-free version or move to a no-added sugar squash or lower-fat milk? Better yet, just give them water. Making the changes gradually over a few weeks will help your kids get used to having less sugar in their drinks.

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Tip #5: Quench thirst first

Sometimes kids think they're hungry, but are actually thirsty, so make sure and offer them water regularly throughout the day.

Most of what we drink should be low sugar options such as water, lower fat milk or sugar-free drinks. We need to drink 6-8 glasses every day.

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Tip #6: Avoid sweet treats outside of mealtimes

It’s better for your teeth to eat healthy sweet treats like dried fruit, banana bread or a fruit flapjack as a pudding at meal times. So try to avoid snacks like these in between meals and stick to fruit and savoury snacks instead.

Here are some tasty, ‘tooth-friendly’ snack recipes recommended by Childsmile:

You can find more healthy snack suggestions from Childsmile here.

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