Kids can be very particular eaters, and this is only intensified if they are suffering from any chronic pain condition. They may crave foods or want snacks that can intensify their pain. Sugar, dairy, and processed foods can all act as pain triggers, but you can give your kids something to satisfy their sweet tooth and add protein without opening a box. Following are some delicious, pain-healthy snacks and treats that are sure to please!
Nut butters on whole grain bread
Nut butters offer omega-3 essential fatty acids as well as protein, and whole grain bread provides satisfying carbohydrates. A little whole grain toast cut into triangles and spread with almond butter is a great snack, lunch, or breakfast. Use a cookie cutter to make special shapes.
Bananas in yogurt with cereal
A banana rolled in Greek yogurt and granola then frozen is a sweet treat, especially on a hot day. Plain Greek yogurt offers more protein and calcium than regular yogurt, and you can sweeten it with a little local honey (great for allergies!) to control sugar (a pain trigger).
Dark cherries are summer’s sweet treat and a great pain-fighting snack. Cherries have antioxidants and anthocyanins that help shut down the pain-sensing mechanisms of the body, acting in the same way that aspirin might. Eat the whole cherry (instead of just drinking cherry juice) to get the benefit of healthy carbohydrates. Blackberries, raspberries, and strawberries have the same compounds as cherries.
Ants on a log
Long a pre-school classic, ants on a log is nut butter nestled in celery and dotted with raisins. Celery (and celery seed) has an anti-inflammatory compound called apigenin, and nut butters provide protein and omega-3s. You can substitute dark chocolate chips for raisins if you use unsweetened nut butter, but keep an eye on sugar intake.
Apple rings with nut butter
Core and slice apples rings and top with nut butter. Add a sprinkle of cinnamon if your kids like that flavor, or serve plain. This simple snack offers omega-3s, protein, and insoluble fiber, great for digestion.
Brown rice or quinoa pasta with…
…anything! Boil whole-grain pasta and add any number of cut veggies that your kids like: green beans, carrots, and broccoli, for example. Drain pasta and veggies, drizzle with mild olive oil (contains healthy fatty acids but not a strong taste), and sprinkle with salt. You can add cut up chicken to warm in the pasta or sprinkle just a bit of freshly-grated parmesan for flavor (but not too much as dairy can trigger an inflammatory response). Pasta is a soluble fiber that is soothing to upset tummies, and cooking the veggies adds insoluble fiber in a more comforting way.
Decadent dessert: Avocado crème bruleé
For a decadent dessert that still offers some healthy pain fighters (like the healthy fats in avocado and coconut milk), puree one cup of homemade sweetened condensed coconut milk with 2 ripe Hass avocadoes, and 2-3 tablespoons of lemon juice. Spoon the mixture into four individual ramekins and chill for four hours. Before serving, sprinkle a thin layer of turbinado sugar on the top and broil or use a bruleé torch until the sugar is crunchy. This should be a treat, not a regular snack, as the sugar content is quite high, but everyone needs a treat now and again!
Another great way to give your kids some independence, but help them make good food choices is to use a muffin tin or ice cube tray and fill each section with snacks (nuts, cut up fruit, edamame, crackers with nut butters, berries, yogurt and granola in a disposable cup, etc.) and place it in the refrigerator. If your child has specific caloric needs daily for weight loss/gain or specific medical condition, you can tailor the snacks to their needs and keep track of their intake. Plus, whenever they want to snack they can help themselves!
Keep in mind that you have a better chance of snacking success when you involve your kids in their meals, so planting a vegetable garden with them or having them help put their snacks together is always a plus.
What is your go-to pain-healthy snack, and what do your kids refuse to eat?
Image by Melissa via Flickr