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Healthier food choices for kids on the run

Paul Banas
Author Paul Banas
Submitted 25-01-2010

Ideally, we all want to fill the kids full of carrots and apples, but that’s not always practical, and quite often not what the kids want as a snack right now. I try to avoid feeding them more white flour products like straight bread, though my son and I just went wild on a cookie from the coffee store.

Some manufacturers have sent me some food samples recently and I’ve given them a look, both for “eatabilty” for my little kids, as well as for whether they really are as healthy they suggest on the box. Michael Pollan, in his new book “Food Rules says you should “never” buy a product that proclaims its health benefits on the box.

Cereals:

We try to avoid heavily sugared cereals in the morning, favoring adding fruit if we can do it. That said, sugar is added to most cereals and makes simple whole grains like oats more acceptable. Good choices for breakfast are:

1. Cheerios or other “cheerios-like” brands, including Joe’s O’s . With 3g. of fiber from whole grain oats, these are a good choice. Look for brands that use sugar rather than corn syrup.

2. Kashi Heart to Heart Cinnamon Cereal. My kids love it and want it in the mix for morning cereal. With 5g. of fiber, this is a good start to the day. The American Heart Association suggests that kids get 25-40g of fiber a day depending on age, so you can see, it really is just a start. However, many cereals have no fiber so what’s important here is a higher nu

3. Uncle Sam’s Cereal. The kids give it a pass. A little too nutty and not sweet enough for them, but lots and lots of fiber at 10g. This stuff is the magic elixir if you’re looking for fiber and Omega-3 rich breakfast cereal. While alone, and without sugar, it’s a little bland even for adults, sprinkled liberally along with other cereal it adds a nutty crunch of flax seeds.

Snack bars

Bear Naked: An assortment of the Bear Naked Grain-ola Bars (Tropical Fruit, Fruit and Grain and Chocolaty Cherry)

FruitaBü: An assortment of flavors (see attached release)

Salty snacks

Popchips: An assortment of flavors, including: Cheddar, Sour Cream and Onion

A good site for checking labels is Labelwatch.com. What I love on this site is the quick look at ingredients. They highlight potentially dangerous ingredients in red, so you can click and see what the ingredient is. In this example, for all I know, Malic Acid is a bad thing. Turns out, it’s okay. The only ingredient you need to worry about is the omnipresent corn syrup.