I’m a proud soccer mom! I love going to games, and I’m the first to raise my hand when the parents are asked to bring cupcakes for a team party. However, coming up with healthy snacks to take to games can sometimes be difficult. Let’s be honest, most kids don’t get excited for raw vegetables – and what’s really annoying is spending time preparing healthy snacks, taking them to the game, and then having every single kid refuse to even try them. What a waste of time and food! That’s why, as much as I hate to admit it, I sometimes just took unhealthy snacks to my kids’ games.
When I was asked to join the Ziploc® Fresh 180 challenge, “Winning Game Day Snacks,” I decided to rethink my strategy and find kid-approved snacks that would actually give the kids real energy, instead of just giving them a sugar high.
Instead of the store-bought products, I found that with just a little extra time, I could recreate my kids’ favorite snacks by making them at home. My son and his soccer teammates love tortilla chips. Since store-bought tortilla chips are usually fried, I bought tortillas, sprayed them with a bit of fat-free cooking spray, and baked them until crispy. Once they were cool, I packed them in a Ziploc® brand storage bag to keep them fresh.
I’m not sure if the kids even noticed the difference between the store-bought chips and my healthier homemade version, but they ate them all up without a single complaint. You can do the same thing with pita or potato chips. Get rid of all that extra, unnecessary fat – and make homemade baked chips for your kids.
Protein Is an Athlete’s Best Friend
What I noticed both at home and at my kids’ games is that when my kids get really full on something healthy, they actually crave less dessert. A lot of game snacks include mostly carbs, which only fill your little athletes up for a short while, leaving them hungry soon after and asking for treats. An easy solution to this is to make snacks filled with protein, which will leave the kids feeling full longer – and give them more energy to finish that second half of the game!
For example, if you’re serving sliced apples, bring along a small Ziploc® brand storage container with peanut butter for dipping. Recently, I also started making turkey or ham pinwheels for the players, too. They’re easy to prepare and the kids love them! I use flour tortillas (preferably whole wheat), spread low-fat cream cheese on each one, top it with lean turkey or lean ham, and then roll it up into a log shape. Then I slice it into small, bite-sized pinwheels and pack them in a Ziploc® brand storage container for easy transportation to the game. These little pinwheels are quick to make and are always a big hit with the kids.
It’s All In the Name
First impressions matter! What we call a food often makes children form an opinion on how they feel about it. Most kids will run far, far away at the sound of these two scary words: Brussels sprouts. But if you give them a cool name – and disguise them a bit – you might actually stand a chance at getting your kids to at least try them.
The same goes for team snacks. I like to bring a white bean dip, which is a good source of protein, to the games with some baked pita chips. It’s a dip that’s really quick and simple to make, yet has a lot of flavor and is extremely healthy. My son doesn’t like beans – or at least he thinks he doesn’t like beans – so instead of calling it a white bean dip, I call it “the muscle dip!” Instead of revealing the ingredients, I just tell him that it’s full of protein and that protein is really good for building muscles. During halftime, I take the dip out of the cooler and yell out, “Who wants to get stronger with some muscle dip?” What little athlete is going to say no to that? Whether it’s fruit kabobs or sliced veggies, find a creative name for each snack you bring to the game, and you’re more likely to leave the game with empty containers and happy, full kids.
Snacks get a bad rap, but with a little time and creativity, taking healthy snacks to your kids’ games is a piece of cake (healthy cake!).
White Bean Dip (the Muscle Dip)
1 (15-ounce) can cannellini beans
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 very small garlic clove, peeled
¼ teaspoon salt
Drain the beans, reserving the liquid. Place the beans in a food processor or blender. Add 2 tablespoons of the reserved liquid and the rest of the ingredients. Blend until completely pureed. Serve with pita chips or raw vegetables.
Disclaimer: I was paid to develop this post and to provide related images for Ziploc®. As always, all opinions are my own.