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Good to Go: This year, resist Goldfish and other processed snacks

Tuesday - 1/1/2013, 9:41am  ET

FruitSkewer_KH512.jpg
Fruit kabobs with yogurt dip is a healthy snack that's a hit with kids. (Katie Howard/WTOP)

Editor's Note: WTOP's Katie Howard is a mom on the go. With two children under age 5, she's always looking for ways to provide her family fast and healthy snacks, meals and activities. Katie will share her go-to food and family fitness tips every Tuesday on her blog "Good to Go."

Katie Howard, wtop.com

WASHINGTON - Goldfish. They are little, yellow and cute with a smile. Parents tend to rely on the smiling crackers for their little people as a quick grab from mom's purse, on play dates, for school lunches and classroom snack duty.

They even come in handy little 100-calorie packs, and they are everywhere. It's as if we have become a Goldfish nation when it comes to snacking.

The issue is not Goldie and its many varieties because I do like Goldfish. It's that kids generally are now nibbling more than they need to and on way too many conveniently packaged salty or sugary processed snacks.

There are many valid reasons or excuses why parents today rely on more packaged, crunchy munchies including:

  • We're busy.
  • They're convenient and not messy.
  • More kids have allergies so we pick something that states all the ingredients on the package even if we can't pronounce the names of some of the additives.
  • Another caregiver (fellow parent, grandparent, teacher, babysitter) is watching the kids and he or she slides the quick fix.
  • They're inexpensive compared to some rising food prices.

First Lady Michelle Obama's exercise and healthier eating initiative for kids called Let's Move! encourages kids, families and all adults to add less processed snacks and food to the New Year's resolution list.

"Thirty years ago, kids ate just one snack a day, whereas now they are trending toward three snacks, resulting in an additional 200 calories a day. And one in five school-age children has up to six snacks a day," according to the Let's Move website.

So to battle excess and unhealthy snacking, Let's Move suggests:

  • Leave a bowl of fruit or carrot sticks on the kitchen table.
  • Differentiate between snacks that require permission (cookies) versus snacks that kids can take freely (fresh or dried fruit).
  • Have kids drink water at snack time.
  • Save "treats" for special occasions.

Instead of the quick snack bag, why not try fruit kabobs? It's my go-to recipe if I have been assigned snack duty for my child's classroom or if I need a quick fix for a playdate with friends. Any fruit will do but particularly fruits like watermelon, pineapple and strawberries work best because they can be cut into sturdier cubes on the kabob spear. Also note that straws can be used in lieu of spears and are safer for younger children. Note, always ask about allergies first before serving.

The fruit kabob snack is as simple as 1,2,3:

1. Use a spear/straw with the bending part of the tip cut off, and poke a hole through the fruit cubes.

2. Place fruit in an alternating pattern like strawberry, watermelon, strawberry, watermelon on the straw.

3. Display the colorful kabobs on a plate, and serve a little yogurt as a dip on the side.

They're easy to make, fast and give kids a natural energy boost from the fruit -- not one they will likely crash from later. And most kids will not need to be coaxed to eat the fruit kabobs because the colors are inviting. Happy New Year and here's to healthier snacking!

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