As a Dietitian, I'm Thrilled I Found a Healthy Snack My Picky Eater Actually Likes

Lauren Manaker
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Snack time is a peaceful time in my home. As a registered dietitian and a mother, I have very strict rules when it comes to choosing the snacks that I allow my 5-year-old daughter to eat. They must be free from anything artificial, provide essential nutrients, and not be processed. Thankfully, my daughter happily obliges and gladly eats organic kale chips and coconut yogurt whenever it is offered.

Just kidding.

My daughter is like most children, and will not come within six feet of anything green or leafy. The only protein she will touch comes from her chicken nuggets, and her taste buds prefer anything artificially flavored or colored to my healthy preferences. I used to fight it, but realized very quickly that it is not worth the aggravation. While I continue to offer my daughter better-for-you snack options hoping for a miracle, the neon-blue gummies always seem to win the battle.

In an ideal world, my daughter would happily chow down on snacks that meet my criteria as a "good choice" – the food wouldn't have a lot of added sugar (ideally three grams or less per serving), it would provide some fiber to help her feel fuller for longer, and would contain at least four grams of protein per serving. Additionally, I love to find snacks that contain calcium to help her little bones grow and stay strong. However, finding snacks that meet my dietitian standards isn't the challenge - getting my daughter to willfully eat the offerings is another story.

Related: Once I Discovered the "Golden Rule" of Feeding Picky Eaters, Mealtimes Became 100% Less Stressful

Letting a Picky Eater Decide How Much to Eat
Letting a Picky Eater Decide How Much to Eat
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Imagine my surprise when I was eating my own snack of Wonderful Honey Roasted Pistachios ($5) and desperately offered my daughter a taste. Expecting her to spit it out and claim that they are gross (like every other snack I offer her), I handed her a pistachio and didn't even wait for a reaction. When her tiny voice requested more nuts, I wasn't sure that I heard her correctly. Was she actually willing to eat a snack that has antioxidants, fiber, and better-for-you fats? My dietitian heart skipped a beat.

These honey-roasted pistachios have just a touch of honey and salt, which seems to be enough to make them appealing to my sugar-addicted 5-year-old. And since they only have two grams of added sugars per serving, they are A-OK in mama's book, too. As a bonus, pistachios are one of snack nuts with the highest amount of protein. It's safe to say I was beyond thrilled that she enjoyed them.

I now keep these sweet and slightly salty pre-shelled pistachios on hand for my daughter's snack time. I love that all the ingredients are immediately recognizable, and that they're a good source of plant-based protein and fiber. My daughter gets a balanced snack and I feel less like a hypocrite dietitian-mama now that she isn't living off of gummy snacks and processed cheese crackers. Snack time has finally become a bit more peaceful in my home. Dinnertime, on the other hand, is a whole different story.

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