Ten healthy food swaps

fresh popcorn in a bowl
Choosing healthier foods for your kids is easier than you may think. Just replace what they’re eating now with something similar, but a healthier version. Try the following:
  1. Swap potato chips for popcorn. Plain, air‐popped popcorn can be a healthier snack for kids as it’s more satisfying and is a source of whole grains whilst still providing that satisfying crunch that kids love.
  2. Switch normal ice‐cream for frozen bananas. If you blend frozen bananas it becomes the consistency of ice‐cream so kids will be none the wiser that their ‘treat’ is actually a healthy source of potassium and other nutrients. You could experiment with different flavours by adding peanut butter, a drizzle of honey, a scoop of cacao powder or a dash of cinnamon.
  3. Trade fruit straps for fruit kebabs. Fruit straps, even those made from 100% fruit, have had their fibre removed, are high in sugar and stick to children’s teeth contributing to tooth decay. As an alternative, offer fruit pieces threaded onto a paddle pop stick. Whole fruit still has its fibre intact and is a good source of important vitamins and minerals.
  4. Exchange fruit flavoured yoghurt for plain greek yoghurt and a handful of berries. One tub of creamy fruit‐flavoured yoghurt provides a whopping 1325kJ and over 44g of sugar. On the other hand, plain yoghurt, a cup of berries and a drizzle of honey contains just 488kJ, about 16 grams of sugar and is higher in fibre.
  5. Substitute a blueberry muffin for fruit toast. Make no mistake, a muffin is really a cake in disguise, and commercially prepared ones are often huge. You could make your own healthier, wholemeal, low‐sugar version or swap a muffin for two slices of lightly buttered raisin toast and save your kids 800kJ in unnecessary kilojoules.
  6. Swap fries for sweet potato fries. Rather than buying fries on the way home from school, make your own healthier version using sweet potato. Sweet potatoes are packed with calcium, potassium, vitamins A and C.4 Make into fries by cutting the sweet potato into strips, coating with olive oil, sprinkling with a dash of salt, pepper and paprika or cumin, and baking in the oven for 15 minutes, or until they’re crispy.
  7. Replace a chocolate bar for a chocolate bliss ball. Chocolate bars are notoriously high in fat and sugar but you can still satisfy your kid’s sweet tooth by offering chocolate bliss balls instead. To make, blend 1 cup rolled oats, 250g pitted medjool dates, ½ cup pumpkin seeds, ¼ cup cacao powder, 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon and ¼ cup shredded coconut in a food processor, roll into balls and freeze until ready to eat.
  8. Trade crackers with rice cakes. The average cracker is high in refined carbohydrates and salt so try rice cakes instead. To increase the nutritional value, add different fruit and veggies on top. You could also add to their appeal by making them into funny faces. For example, blueberries could be used as eyes, a length of capsicum as a nose, avocado as a mouth and strips of carrot for hair.
  9. Switch peanut butter for almond butter. If your child is fond of having peanut butter on toast, try to convert them to almond butter instead. While both are a good source of fibre and protein, almond butter is higher in vitamin E, magnesium and iron.5 It also tastes delicious atop apple slices or celery sticks.
  10. Substitute lollies with frozen grapes. The next time your kids reach for something sweet, try frozen grapes for an easy and refreshing snack. They’ll still fulfill a sweet craving and contain nutrients that kids need to function and grow.