As parents and caregivers, we all want to provide healthy and great-tasting food to our children. Offering a variety of wholesome foods from a young age and being a role model to them by having a positive relationship with nutrient-dense foods is all part of the puzzle.
Children develop and grow very quickly and as a result they have a high need for nutrients to allow those fundamental functions to happen. Dried fruit such as Annies that contains 100% fruit and nothing else is a much healthier choice that other dried fruit that may contain added sugar, oil or other additives. This is because the products only contain naturally occurring sugars rather than extra sugars added by the manufacturer.
For children, dried fruit should ideally only be offered once a day and should be offered alongside other wholesome foods and water. This is to off-set the negative oral health effects of sticky, sweet foods on teeth. Of course, brushing your children’s teeth twice a day with fluoride-containing toothpaste and ideally flossing once a day will all be beneficial for oral health too.
Foods that are great to offer alongside dried fruits are calcium-rich foods such as cheese, yoghurt and milk as well as phosphate rich foods such as nuts. Of course, also offering colourful fresh fruits and vegetables will provide an opportunity for even more vitamins and minerals that are needed by the body to be consumed.
You can add Annies air-dried fruit to lunchboxes, snack packs or after-sport bags for a nutritious boost of energy.
A good example of a wholesome, balanced lunchbox may include the following foods:
- Ham and cheese grainy sandwich
- Carrot sticks
- Crackers with hummus
- Handful Annies fruit strips or jerky
- 1 bliss ball
A good example of a snack pack that is balanced and provides several nutrients while being easily transportable may include the following foods:
- Annies fruit flat
- Wholegrain peanut butter sandwich (or a wrap filled with hummus and cheese)
- Handful of nuts
- Bottle of water
When at home have fun with your children and try some different ideas.
- Smear round rice cakes with hummus or peanut butter and use the fruit strips to create faces with other vegetables such as carrot rounds, sliced cucumber and cos lettuce.
- Add some Greek yoghurt to a bowl and then use a variety of fresh fruit such as banana rounds, blueberries, your favourite nuts and fruit jerky to create a happy face!
In summary, Annies fruit strips, jerky and flats can be part of a wholesome diet for young children and adolescents. They provide carbohydrates for energy and fibre to support a healthy digestive system. Ideally, they should be offered just once a day alongside other nutrient-dense foods such as cheese, yoghurt, nuts and vegetables while being mindful of brushing your children’s teeth twice and day and flossing once a day. You can feel confident that you are providing them with the knowledge and skills to look after their bodies and their teeth!
Written by Emily Hope. A New Zealand Registered Nutritionist. You can find out more over at www.hopenutrition.org.nz.