CHILDREN'S SNACKS SHOULD not be taken lightly, according to the American Heart Association. Nibbling can be beneficial to growing kids and active teens -- when the foods are healthy and not just calorie-laden chips, sodas and candy.
Parents should plan and shop for between-meal treats as they do for breakfast, lunch and dinner, according to the association.
To satisfy after-school munchies, for example, stock up on apples, carrots, low-fat cheeses, breadsticks and popcorn that's popped without oil.
The association kicks-off its week-long "food festival" Saturday. Tips on healthful snacks, ways to stretch your food dollar and other information will be available from the association and participating supermarkets.
For a schedule of local food festival events, call the local association at 1-800-HEART-03.
This recipe, from the association, makes a great dip for any fresh vegetable.
Spinach Vegetable Dip 1 10-ounce package frozen no-salt-added chopped spinach
5 green onions with tops, coarsely chopped
1/2 cup watercress, large stems removed
1/4 cup fresh parsley, large stems removed
8 ounces plain nonfat yogurt
1 avocado, peeled and chopped
1 1/4 teaspoons no-salt garlic seasoning
1/8 teaspoon salt, optional
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/8 teaspoon hot pepper sauce, or to taste
1 large purple or green cabbage
1 purple cabbage, optional
Cook spinach, drain and wring out all juice in a clean kitchen towel.
In the work bowl of a food processor fitted with a metal blade, finely chop spinach, onion, watercress and parsley, or chop with a knife and transfer to a blender.
Process just until blended. Do not over process. Remove to colander to drain excess liquid. Set aside.
Place remaining ingredients except cabbage in processor or blender and process until smooth.
In a bowl, combine vegetables and yogurt mixture. Mix to blend well.
Cover and refrigerate at least two hours to allow flavors to blend. Hollow out purple or green cabbage to use as a serving bowl. Serve with a variety of fresh vegetables.
Makes 1 1/2 cups. One tablespoon has 23 calories, 1 gram protein, 2 grams carbohydrate, 1 gram fat, 0 cholesterol and 16 milligrams sodium.