Researchers say that sugar is one of the biggest causes of obesity and diabetes and with one study showing populations across over 60 countries are consuming more than 4 times the recommended intake, it’s safe to say we have a problem.
Kids in particular are struggling to stay afloat, with research estimating 14% have experienced a mental health condition. While there are a number of other stressors driving these disorders, we also know that excess sugar is a major contributor.
But that’s not the worst part. Sugar has been found to be more addictive than drugs like cocaine. This is because it triggers the reward system in the brain, leaving us desperate for the next short-lived hit of dopamine.
So, it’s not a bad idea to start weaning your kids off the sweet stuff and show them how food can be healthy and delicious – without the blood-sugar spike. Here are a few of our top snack recommendations to swap sugar out for.
Cheese and fruit
High in calcium and healthy fats, cheese is a solid option for supporting healthy bones and keeping the kids fuller for longer – no blood sugar crashes and afternoon slumps here. Paired with fruit, it’s elevated to top-tier snack status, not to mention the added nutritional benefits that come with fruits, with oranges, strawberries and kiwi fruity high in vitamin C. Kiwis pack in 80% of our daily needs in just one serve, while satisfying any sweet tooth, with the added benefit of fibre – this helps the body regulate sugar usage and keep blood sugar levels stable.
We recommend: Swiss cheese and strawberries make a great combo. As does the classic Mediterranean pairing of feta and watermelon. The salty flavour of the cheese mixed with the refreshing sweetness of the fruit is what makes this dish so popular in Greece.
Nuts and nut butters.
You’ve probably noticed the frequency with nuts are served along with chocolate and other desserts that call for slivered almonds or crumbled walnuts – and for good reason. These humble, crunchy snacks have the perfect texture for a snack – without the sugar-crash that accompanies junk food. Nuts pack in fibre, healthy fats, biotin and vitamin E, and while nut butters have slightly less fibre, they’re still a powerhouse of vitamins and minerals. What’s more, they go with pretty much anything – savoury or sweet, baked or raw – the options are limitless.
Our recommendation: Add walnuts to the oven with a touch of olive oil, then add warming spices like cumin, cinnamon and cardamom. Pecans and cashews will work well here too, and if you really want to ramp up the decadence of this recipe, dip the nuts in dark chocolate.
Another snack that is a guaranteed hit with the kids is baked potato chips – without the excess fat and salt – and of course, no pesky sugar that gets slipped in to the most unexpected products. Russet potatoes work well for this. Simply drizzle a tablespoon of a heart-healthy oil like olive oil over the potatoes and add rosemary and time for a nutritious burst of flavour. If your kids have the taste for it, then give it a spicy kick with chilli powder and paprika.
Our recommendation: Serve it with Greek yoghurt to get that sour cream taste, but with the benefit of more protein, calcium and probiotics for gut health to protect your kid’s growing bones and immune system.
For a tasty, lunchbox-ready snack that kids can eat on the go, roast your own crispy, iron-packed chickpeas. You can sub in any legumes, including butter beans or kidney beans and even lentils will take on a crispy texture when roasted. With slow-releasing energy, chickpeas are a great way to help your kids curb any sugar cravings and tide them over until their next meal.
Our recommendation: Add in paprika to give your chickpeas a smoky flavour.
The classic childhood favourite many of us remember – quick, cheap and healthy – frozen fruit is a reliable snack that is beloved by kids and adults alike. If your child is craving a sweet fix, ditch the lollies and instead pop some pineapple, grapes and watermelon in the freezer. Of course, there are no limits to which fruits you choose, though grapes are known for their intensified sweetness when frozen.
Our recommendation: For an extra kick of protein and calcium – and added creaminess that resembles ice cream, dip your frozen fruit in yoghurt. The healthy fats will also help to balance blood sugar levels when consuming fruit, ensuring your kids don’t crash before the day’s end.
Plus, a recipe from us.
Straight from the I Quit Sugar Kids Cookbook, this is a simple, nutritious recipe that even the pickiest of kids will love.
Makes: 1 cup.
Prep time: 5 minutes.
Cooking time: 10 minutes.
- 1 cup hazelnuts.
- 1/2 cup coconut milk.
- 1/3 cup rice malt syrup.
- 1 tablespoon macadamia oil.
- ¼ cup raw cacao powder.
- 1 tablespoon vanilla powder.
- Preheat the oven to 180 degrees (Celsius).
- Line a baking tray with baking paper.
- Bake the hazelnuts on the tray for 8-10 minutes until browned, then rub off most of the skins as they can be bitter.
- Grind the nuts in a food processor until smooth. Add remaining ingredients and process until well mixed. Store in the fridge.
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