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Healthy Snacking Tips for Back to School and Beyond from a Disney Pro

Pam Brandon

by , Food Writer, Walt Disney World Resort and Disneyland Resort

When you’re having fun in the Disney parks, finding a healthful snack is easy with plenty of on-the-go snacks, from frozen fruit bars to fresh fruits and veggies. We’ve included many tasty, healthy alternative food choices at restaurants and kiosks all across our theme parks and resorts.

And now it’s that time of year when little ones head back to school and parents are challenged with creatively and nutritiously feeding the family. We asked Cheryl Dolven, the manager of Food & Beverage Health & Wellness for Disney Parks and Resorts who also is a registered dietician for some tips.

What’s a good go-to breakfast on the run?

Smoothies or parfaits can be a great grab-and-go options as are breakfast sandwiches. There are some healthy, frozen ready-made options, but if you keep the right ingredients on hand these are quick and easy to assemble yourself.

And for lunch boxes, what are some healthful nibbles to include?

Ideally each lunch will include a fruit, a vegetable and a healthy protein source. Bento box-style lunch boxes are popular right now, making it easy to build a fun lunch each day with healthy components. Making homemade banana or zucchini bread or a healthy oatmeal raisin cookie is a nice way to serve up nutritious options that also are delicious.

Kids usually arrive home hungry after school, what’s an ideal snack to have on hand?

The key is the word “snack,” which is different than a “treat.” The ideal after school snack will provide nutrients that growing kids need. Foods like cookies, candy and soda are treats, not snacks.

The ideal snack will have some carbohydrates and some protein. Snack time is an ideal time to get fruit and vegetables into little bodies – and what could be easier? Fruits and vegetables are the original fast food. Slice an apple, wash some berries, peel a banana, cut up a cucumber. Then pair the fruit or vegetable with a source of protein. For example, serve the berries with Greek yogurt or the cucumber with hummus.

For older kids who can grab snacks on their own, you can create a “help yourself shelf” in your pantry or refrigerator. Keep “green light snacks” visible and accessible in this spot and “treats” out of sight and out of mind.

For younger kids, you can add some creativity to make fruits and vegetables more appealing. Core an apple and stuff it with peanut butter mixed with and mini chocolate chips or thread fruit and cheese on skewers.

When visiting Walt Disney World Resort parks, enjoy some of our favorite go-to healthful bites: hummus with veggies and fresh fruit at the Gardens Kiosk at Disney’s Animal Kingdom; the carrot and celery sticks (with a little Ranch dressing) at Anaheim Produce at Disney’s Hollywood Studios; edamame at Kabuki Café at the Japan Pavilion at Epcot, and fresh-cut pineapple spears at Aloha Isle in Adventureland in Magic Kingdom Park.