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SALT LAKE CITY — For busy parents, snack time can be a challenge. But have no fear, healthy snacks are as close as the refrigerator door. Here are some healthy snacks ideas that are easy to make and disappear.
- Fruit blox: This treat comes right from the back of the Knox gelatin box. Boil 3 cups of fruit juice, add gelatin and allow to set before cutting into shapes and serving. This is food kids can eat with their hands, and for extra fun and nutrition you can add pieces of whole fruit.
- Fruit kabobs: Cut fresh fruit into large chunks and have kids help thread the fruit onto medium-sized wooden skewers. Brush with a little lemon juice to add flavor and keep the fruit from turning brown.
- Baked tortilla chips: Cut low-fat flour or corn tortillas into wedges before lightly brushing with olive oil and sprinkling with cinnamon sugar. Bake at 400 degrees for 3-5 minutes, flip and go a few minutes more until lightly browned. Serve with diced fruit for a salsa or low-sugar spreadable fruit.
- Light string cheese: This is as easy as opening the wrapper. It's a handy, low-calorie food with calcium and protein for a pick-me-up. If you prefer block cheese, cut wedges and serve with saltine crackers.
- Popcorn: There are many low-calorie microwave popcorn options, though often those use oils which aren't particularly nutritious. It's worth it to invest in a stovetop popper or air popper to create any number of popcorn treats. A few Red Hots candies added to a stovetop popper makes for spicy, bright-red kernels, or a shake of Italian seasoning and a sprinkle of Parmesan cheese over warm popcorn makes a quick savory treat.
- Black bean brownies: These treats are chocolaty, high in fiber and only require a standard brownie mix and one can of drained black beans. Wash the beans well and return to the can, then fill with water. Empty the beans and water into a blender and blend well before combining with your favorite brownie mix. Bake as per the box instructions and serve with a sprinkle of powdered sugar.
- Seasonal fruit and vegetables: Who says that a healthy snack has to be more complex than washing and cutting fresh fruits and vegetables? Choose produce in season from your area, or shop at local farms and farmer's markets for the best-tasting and highest-quality snacks. For extra fun, offer low-calorie ranch dressing or caramel sauce for dipping.
- Whole grain bread and low-sugar jam or jelly: With or without crusts, bread and jam is a classic snack for kids and adults alike. The key is choosing quality bread and jams that are low in sugar (cane or high-fructose corn syrup) and high in fruit.
- Open-faced cheese sandwiches: Lay slices of cheese on whole grain bread and toast in the oven until bubbly and warm. This sandwich can be topped with tomatoes and lettuce or eaten as is. It's easy to be creative and let kids try different kids of cheese and toppings.
- Celery and peanut butter: This classic treat is still a winner. Add raisins or Craisins to be "ants on a log" or simply serve celery with dipping options. Peanut butter, ranch dressing or salsa all go well.