Use After School Snacks to Get Picky Eaters to Try New Foods

By: Kristen Yarker, MSc, RD

If you’re like the parents of picky eaters I’ve helped for the last 6 years, you’re constantly on the look out for ways to get your kids to eat more (healthy) foods. After school snacks are a great (and often overlooked) opportunity to contribute to kids’ nutrition.

Here’s why after school snacks are such a great time to get kids to eat more foods, how to do it, and some snack ideas.

Why it Works:

Have you ever tried getting a child to eat a new food when they aren’t hungry? It’s a lesson in futility. Many kids have big appetites at after school snack time. Appetite is a great motivator for kids to try new foods. Take advantage of this natural window of opportunity and use after school snacks to offer your child new foods.

Steps to Take:

Step #1: Plan snacks that include foods from 2 or more food groups. Often we think of snacks as a time for junk food. Or, as a time for a single food – e.g. an apple. But kids have big nutrient needs and small tummies. They need healthy foods more than just at 3 meals per day.

Step #2: Consider meals and snacks to be equal opportunities to eat. A mistake that many parents make is to give their child healthy foods at meals and favorite foods at snacks. This stacks the odds against kids eating well at meals. Instead, frequently, give your child a snack that includes either a new food or a food that your child has seen many times but hasn’t tried yet.

Step #3: Think outside the snack aisle. When looking for snack ideas, it seems natural to look in the snack aisle of the grocery store. But this aisle is mostly filled with highly processed, junk foods. Instead, look for easy to eat versions of meal foods. Focus on providing foods from the food groups where your child isn’t meeting the recommendations. To see the recommendations, check out My Plate or Canada’s Food Guide

Snack Ideas:
  • Edamame and an orange (2 food groups)
  • White Bean Dip* with a variety of raw veggies such as snow peas, carrots, and zucchini (2 food groups)
  • Hard-boiled egg and toast (2 food groups)
  • Yogurt with blueberries and hemp hearts (3 food groups)
  • Sliced banana on top of whole grain crackers/rice cakes/corn cakes spread with peanut butter, nut-butter, or non-nut butter. (3 food groups)

White Bean Dip Recipe

Makes 12 Servings

1 can (14 oz, 17.6 oz) cannellini beans, canned, drained
1 bulb garlic, raw
1/4 cup (2 oz) olive oil
1/4 cup (2 fl oz) lemon juice, fresh

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
  2. Remove the outermost skin of the garlic bulb (the loose stuff). Cut off the very top of the bulb so the tip of each clove is exposed. Rub the entire bulb with some olive oil. Wrap in tin foil, shiny-side inwards. Place on a cookie sheet or in a casserole dish.
  3. Roast in the oven for approximately 45 minutes, or until the bulb gives off the distinct roasted garlic (not raw garlic) aroma and the cloves are squishy.
  4. Allow to cool.
  5. Drain and rinse the beans (rinsing removes some of the “magical” part of the beans). Place them in a medium-size bowl.
  6. To the beans, add half the olive oil, half the lemon juice, and half of the cloves of garlic. Using a hand-held blender, blend the mixture until it’s smooth. Adding more olive oil, lemon juice and garlic to taste and to get the texture to the desired smoothness.
  7. ENJOY with tortilla chips, crackers, apple slices, and raw veggies like carrots, celery and bell pepper strips.

Note: You can roast the garlic days in advance.

Kristen Yarker

Kristen Yarker

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Kristen Yarker, MSc, RD
Child-Feeding Expert helping Moms and Dads support their picky eaters to try new foods on their own (without being forceful or sneaky) Get scientific evidence-based answers to real questions from real parents (recipes too!).
Kristen Yarker

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