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Kids are notoriously picky eaters, with a nearly insatiable appetite for snacks. Keeping their snacks healthful only gets more challenging as they grow and enjoy ever more peer infuences and birthday party invitations. But healthful snacking doesn’t have to be difficult, says Lisa Barnes, cooking educator and mother of two. Her latest book, Petit Appetite: Eat, Drink, and Be Merry: Easy, Organic Snacks, Beverages, and Party Foods for Kids of All Ages, offers recipes for simple, wholesome foods that appeal to school-age palates.
Barnes, who credits her yoga practice for the good health and energy she experienced through two pregnancies, says that a few extra moments spent preparing snacks like roasted pumpkin seeds or crisp apple chips means you wo’t have to fall back on “eas” processed alternatives when you’re busy.
As for getting kids to choose fruits and veggies over chips, Barnes says one of the best ways to instill healthful eating habits in kids is to take advantage of their natural curiosity about food. Shop at a farmers’ market, visit a working farm, and get kids involved in gardening and cooking, even if they’re just growing herbs in a window box. “The earlier you can start their connection to food, the better,” she says. Let your children choose which bunch of asparagus to buy and have them snap off the ends, or pick basil for pesto, and they’ll be more likely to try the finished dish—and like it.
“There’s nothing exciting about tearing open a bag,” Barnes says. “It’s exciting to see something grow and to be a part of the process of cooking it, as opposed to eating something that bears no resemblance to anything in nature, like a cheese puff.”