Posted: Apr 22, 2012 3:17 PM
If your family is reaching for the chips more than you’d like, then these ideas for make-ahead snacks can keep them on the right track. Clear a shelf in the refrigerator to hold all the "free" foods and show them that healthy doesn't have to mean boring.

Make it fun for the kids

Kids can be picky about what they eat, even when you are serving them snacks. Making snacks fun is a sure way to get the younger crowd to show some interest in healthier foods.

  • Use tiny cookie cutters in a variety of shapes to create shapes with cheese, meats, bread and other soft foods. You can even spell out your child’s name on the plate with alphabet cutters.
  • Sliced flour tortillas become spirals that can be used in a variety of ways. Turn them upwards and add a small pickle for a head. You instantly have created a cute snail.
  • Spread tortillas with cream cheese, lunch meat, peanut butter or bananas and roll them up. Slice them about three-quarters of an inch thick and use your imagination to create everything from truffula trees to Van Gogh's Starry Night landscape on the plate.
  • Use tiny, clean terra cotta pots lined with plastic wrap. Fill with a thick dip and plant a few baby carrots in each pot.
  • Serve dried fruit, peanuts and small crackers mixed in an ice cream cone.

Make it easy for adults

Most adults know that they should choose wisely when it comes to snack foods but are so busy and distracted that they reach for the closest edible – often chips, sweets or fast food. The trick is to make the snacks ahead of time and keep them readily available so that they are as easy to grab as those tortilla chips.

  • Clear a shelf in the pantry for nonperishable snacks and keep a snack spot in the fridge as well. If you have to stop and make a snack from scratch, you are more likely to grab something like cookies or chips. Be sure to have a variety of choices, both sweet and salty.
  • Small jelly jars can hold dip or serving sizes of sugar-free gelatin as well as hundreds of other foods. Yogurt or cottage cheese can be layered with fruit for a satisfying parfait. Larger jars can keep a salad or chunks of melon fresh and ready to go.
  • You can also put chili or queso into the jars and keep them in the refrigerator. When you are ready for a snack, you can just heat one up in the microwave. It's a great way to use up leftovers.
  • Hard-cooked eggs stay fresh for up to five days if you keep them in the shell. They are instant, high-protein snacks that can be added to salad, crackers, peeled and eaten on the spot or made into deviled eggs.
  • Keep small bags of your favorite fruit in the freezer for almost instant smoothies. When you're ready for a snack, add a small container of yogurt or a little milk to the fruit in a blender and process until thick and smooth.
  • Lay your favorite deli meat or sandwich filling on a large leaf of lettuce. Add pickles, onions, mustard or whatever condiments you like. Roll the lettuce with the fillings inside it.
  • Cherry tomatoes, mozzarella cubes and a leaf of fresh basil pushed onto toothpicks create tiny Caprese salad snacks. Keep them in a tightly covered container in the refrigerator for up to three days.

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