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Top tips for your family over Christmas

By Dr Kirsty Porter & Chyanne Leslie


We all know Christmas can be a time of year when we all indulge in extra snacks and treats that are higher in sugar and fat. If you are worried about the amount of unhealthy snacks your child is eating and want some inspiration, then this blog is perfect for you! These snacks are fun, simple and tasty ideas of how to make this Christmas a healthier one!


So, why is good nutrition so important for your child?

· Promotes healthy growth and development

· Helps develop healthy eating habits and knowledge of nutrition that can be applied throughout life

· Provides a constant supply of energy

· Helps maintain a healthy weight

· Reduces the risk of developing conditions such as diabetes

· Improves mental health

· Helps maintain concentration


Aiming for good nutrition from a young age has been shown to help your child to accept a wide variety of foods, develop healthy eating habits and reduce fussy eating. Maintaining healthy food choices can be carried through into adulthood and thus optimise nutrition throughout life.

Getting your kids involved in helping make meals and snacks has many benefits including bonding time, greater awareness of food and help with food security. Furthermore, it boosts confidence and helps enhance fine motor skills, maths skills and reading skills. So, if you don’t already why not try to bake and cook together this December using these ideas from the blog. You can also download a free colouring book if you sign up for our newsletter. If your child doesn’t want to help with the food prep or cooking just yet they can still get involved by setting the table, washing food such as fruit and vegetables or serving up food!


What do your current mealtimes look like?

The best way to have mealtimes is to eat and serve food together as much as you can. Serving food ‘family style’ by placing food in the middle of the table so that everyone can share in the same one meal than making multiple versions of dinner! Pressure also switches off your child’s appetite so avoid pressure and instead make mealtimes relaxed and fun! Eating the same foods helps them to learn from your eating habits and shows them that these foods are safe.

Below, is an example of a breakfast set-up, giving you an idea of what this might look like.



You may be wondering what constitutes a healthy snack?

Nutritious snacks are those with high amounts of:


  • Fruit and vegetables

Fruit and vegetables are rich sources of vitamins and minerals needed for your child’s growth and development. Think rainbow when it comes to selecting fruit and vegetables- different colours have different levels of vitamins & minerals so this helps optimise your intake. If your child doesn’t eat many fruit and vegetables at mealtimes, making fun snacks can help!

  • Fibre

Fruit and vegetables are also good sources of fibre. Young children love carbohydrates such as cereal and toast- switching from white versions to either 50/50 or wholemeal/wholegrain increases the fibre amount. Fibre-rich foods also help prevent constipation in children by bulking up their stools.

  • Protein

This nutrient is crucial for your child’s growth and development. It also helps the body to repair cells when children can get injuries. Protein rich foods include dairy products, nut butters, meat, fish, lentils, pulses and beans.

  • Calcium

This mineral is important for the development of strong bones and teeth. Calcium is found in many dairy products including milk, cheese and yoghurts. If your child is dairy-free make sure and go for the fortified (those with added calcium) options of plant-based alternatives.


We’ve included 10 fun, nutritious snacks within this blog to try with the little ones over this festive period.

They are all super affordable and easy to make. To get started you will need a range of utensils but these should be readily available in your house already or use something similar to avoid you having to buy anything new. These include:

  • Cocktail sticks

  • Kid-safe and friendly knives

  • Cutters such as star /Christmas tree/gingerbread men/snowmen

  • Vegetable peeler

  • Chopping boards

  • Plates

  • Novelty cups/bowls


Did you know you can purchase children safe knives? Here is one such example from Amazon click here or your local supermarket or local kitchen stores. This allows them to develop their cutting skills in a safe manner.


1. Candy canes


How delicious does this Candy Cane look? You can make this a big version to share which would go down well with parties or small individual ones as a snack.


Ingredients:

  • 1 Banana

  • 3 Strawberries

  • Wooden stick


Method:

  1. Chop up banana and strawberries into thick circular rings.

  2. Alternate banana and strawberry slices onto the wooden stick to create a candy cane shape.

  3. Serve and enjoy!


2. Grinch kebabs


These cute Grinch kebabs are a great snack for your little one. The perfect holiday treat for all you Grinch fans!


Ingredients:

  • 1 Cocktail stick

  • 1 Green grape

  • 1 Banana slice

  • 1 Strawberry (remove top)

  • 1 Mini marshmallow


Method:

  1. Cut top off strawberries.

  2. Cut banana into circle rings.

  3. Slide on 1 mini marshmallow, 1 strawberry, 1 banana slice and 1 grape onto a cocktail stick.

  4. Serve plain or decorate with sprinkles such as desiccated coconut and enjoy!


3. Banana Snowmen



Simple, fun and nutritious Christmas treat. These would be great frozen too. Perfect for a festive party!


Ingredients:

  • 3 Banana slices

  • 1 Strawberry

  • 1 Green grape

  • 4 raisins

  • 1 Cocktail stick


Method:

  1. Cut banana into 3 thick circular rings.

  2. Chop stem off the strawberry.

  3. To assemble, slide on the green grape, strawberry and the 3 banana slices onto the cocktail stick.

  4. Gently press the raisins into banana slices to form buttons and eyes.

  5. Serve immediately or freeze until set if you want this frozen and enjoy!


4. Frozen yoghurt



This snack is not only tasty but a brilliant source of calcium. Perfect festive breakfast idea or healthy treat after dinner.


Ingredients:

  • ½ Greek yoghurt

  • A handful of fresh/frozen Raspberries (any other fruit can be used)

  • 1 teaspoon of Granola


Method:

  1. Place yoghurt into a bowl.

  2. Chop up the choice of fruit and add to the bowl along with granola and mix well.

  3. Place mixture into festive moulds.

  4. Freeze at for at least 2 hours, until the yoghurt has set.

  5. Serve and enjoy!


5. Cucumber Christmas Tree



How pretty are these? Delicious, tasty and healthy. You can switch this up with using either cheese or carrots! Great party appetiser idea or could add to salad/sandwich to give it that festive look.


Ingredients:

  • 1 Cherry tomato/Carrot

  • 1/3 Cucumber

  • ¼ Cheese slice

  • 1 Cocktail stick


Method:

  1. Cut cheese/carrot into a star shape using a cutter.

  2. If using carrot as the base cut into 1 thick circular ring.

  3. Slice cucumber using a vegetable peeler.

  4. Slide on cheese/carrot, cucumber and tomato/carrot (onto a cocktail stick.

  5. Serve and enjoy!


6. Pepper Christmas Tree



These Christmas Trees are stunning. Another incredible and simple idea. Perfect for an after school healthy snack.


Ingredients:

  • ½ Red pepper

  • ½ Green pepper

  • ¼ Cheese slice

  • 1 Cocktail stick


Method:

  1. Cut cheese into a star shape using a cutter.

  2. Cut red pepper and green pepper into 2 rectangular shapes (4 rectangular shapes in total).

  3. Slide on cheese and pepper slices onto cocktail stick, alternating the peppers.

  4. Serve up and enjoy!


7. Rudolf Celery



This Rudolf is so cute and would go down as a great after school snack for your little one.


Ingredients:

  • ¼ Celery

  • 1/3 Carrot

  • 1 teaspoon Peanut butter

  • 1-2 Chocolate pretzels


Method:

  1. Chop celery in four and use 1 slice of this.

  2. Spread on peanut butter on top of the celery.

  3. Chop 1 slice of carrot and cut in half to become the mouth. Place the mouth at the bottom, on top of peanut butter.

  4. Place 1-2 pretzels at the top of peanut butter on each side as ears.

  5. Add novelty eyes if you wish to or add for example blueberries.

  6. Serve up and enjoy!


8. Avocado Christmas Tree



Try this healthy snack. Simple, yet effective and most of all – delicious! Great breakfast idea or tasty snack before bed!


Ingredients:

  • 1/2 Tortilla wrap (any other form of bread could be used)

  • 1 Avocado

  • 1 Cherry tomato

  • ¼ Carrot

  • ¼ Cheese slice


Method:

  1. Cut cheese and carrot into a star shape using a cutter.

  2. Chop cherry tomato and avocado in half.

  3. Scope out the avocado and spread it onto tortilla wrap.

  4. Place tomato halves, star-shaped cheese and carrot on top of the avocado.

  5. Serve and enjoy!


9 . Christmas crackers



Crackers are another healthy idea to give your kids this Christmas. A fun and tasty appetiser to have over the festive period.


Ingredients:

  • 1-2 Crackers

  • Cream cheese e.g., 1 triangle

  • 1-2 slices of red/green Pepper

  • 1-2 slices of Cucumber and Tomato


Method:

  1. Place 2 crackers on a side plate and add cream cheese.

  2. Cut all the vegetables into slices or you can use the Christmas cutters!

  3. Serve and enjoy!


10. Festive vegetable pots



Using cups/bowls with favourite cartoon characters is a great way to change things up. You can also draw these on plastic cups/bowls!


Ingredients:

  • Festive cup

  • 1 Pepper

Method:

  1. Chop up pepper into slices. You could switch up the vegetables such as celery or cucumber.

  2. Place into the festive cup.

  3. Serve alongside a dip such as hummus or cream cheese and enjoy!


If you have tried any of the healthy snack ideas within this blog, please do tag us, we’d love to see them!


For more information and ideas, follow us on Facebook and Instagram.


You can also check out our website - https://www.nutrition4kidsni.com


Merry Christmas from all of us at Nutrition4kids!


#nutrition4kidsni #healthytoddlers #healthykids #toddlermeals #kidsnutrition #babyrecipes #childrensdietitian #womeninbusiness #christmashealthfood




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