The importance of healthy eating for children and adolescents is no secret. Eating habits formed during childhood not only affect physical and developmental growth, but also may continue throughout life. Government-funded food assistance programs directed at children like the National School Lunch Program or WIC provide access to nutritious food regardless of household income. Although these programs fund healthy meal options, making a child eat the nutritious food may prove to be another roadblock. Children are not always interested in eating food based on nutritional value, especially if it looks strange to them. Here are some ideas for nutrient-rich snacks that are more appealing for children.

Fruit Cups

Fruits may be a hit or miss with small children, but they are sweet enough to introduce as a healthy alternative to cakes and candy. Although each type of fruit varies in nutritional value, all fruit purchased at a local grocery store or farmer’s market is full of the vitamins and nutrients a child needs to grow. Fruit cups as a snack also allow room for variety and opportunity to introduce a child to new produce. Since there are so many fruits available at grocery stores, it becomes easier through trial and error to find at least a few that a child enjoys.

Children sometimes tend to be more receptive to foods presented as a sweet treat or dessert instead of a healthy snack. If presentation is an issue, try fruit kebobs or stuffing an ice cream cone with chunks of fruit. Your child may also enjoy a “fruit car,” which can be made from one apple slice, two toothpicks and four grapes. Poke both toothpicks through either side of the apple slice near the ends to work as front and rear axles. Then stick one grape on each point of the toothpick for wheels. The finished product will look like a car that is fun to play with and healthy to eat.

Trail Mix

Making a trail mix is a creative and involved way to watch what your child is eating. A variety of food items can make a trail mix, which also allows the possibility of the child picking what he or she wants from the mix. Assorted nuts, granola, and raisins are popular and healthy options. For children who are resistant to healthy eating, add a few dark chocolate bits for an enticingly sweet treat.

Healthy Homemade Ice Pops

Making a homemade ice pop on a stick is a healthy snack as well as a fun activity. Although store bought popsicles may be lacking in nutritional value, homemade popsicles can be made of as many healthy ingredients as you want. The frozen base of a healthy homemade ice pop is unsweetened fruit juice, yogurt, or any drink rich in vitamins and nutrients. Add other food to the homemade ice pop before freezing for texture and flavor. Granola or berries are healthy options. For creative cooks, use a thick pretzel stick for the stick.