A number of recent studies have further proven the pervasiveness--and subsequent danger--of sodium levels in the American diet, even for toddlers. It's not news that many busy Americans rely on pre-packaged convenience foods to feed their hunger on a regular basis, and it's definitely not a surprise that most of these foods are far from nutritional superstars, but it probably is a bit of shocker for most parents that foods manufactured just for babies and toddlers may actually be doing them more harm than good. Find out why and discover how to make three easy, nutritious snacks for the littlest members of your family.


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Earlier this week, CBS News reported that 75 percent of randomly tested pre-packaged toddler foods were too high in sodium according to U.S. dietary guidelines and the American Heart Association. While this may not be something to worry about in the here and now, the fear is that children who develop a taste for overly salted foods will carry that preference into adulthood and end up dealing with conditions that are commonly associated with high sodium consumption, such as high blood pressure, heart disease and stroke--conditions that cause nearly 1 in 10 American deaths. But not to worry, with a little diligence and forethought, you can ensure that the snacks you are serving up to your toddler are risk-free. As always, my suggestion is to head to the kitchen and whip them up yourself. Here are recipes for three of my son's favorite mid-afternoon treats:

Black Bean Hummus and Veggies
1 Can organic black beans
1 Large clove of garlic
1/4 Tsp. Cumin
Splash of water
Assorted vegetables

To make: In a pot or microwaveable bowl, combine drained and rinsed black beans, a crushed garlic clove, and a splash of water. Heat until slightly softened and warmed through. Allow to cool slightly then add to a the bowl of a blender or food processor along with the cumin, and puree into a soft, spreadable paste. If necessary, add a little more water to achieve desired consistency. For young toddlers, serve with soft-steamed carrot sticks, zucchini sticks, brocolli florets, etc. Older toddlers can eat the veggies raw.

Cinnamon Toast Crunch
1 Slice whole-grain bread
1 Pat of butter
1/8 Tsp. ground cinnamon
1 Organic apple 

To make: Toast one slice of whole grain bread and top with butter and cinnamon. Cut apple in half and shred using a regular cheese grater (peel first if desired). Top cinnamon toast with shredded apple and cut the slice of bread into finger-sized sticks. Serve immediately.

Easy Guacamole
1 Avocado (any variety)
1 Small clove of garlic
Juice of 1/2 a lime
1 Tbsp. Full fat Greek yogurt
Ground black pepper

To make: Cut avocado in half and remove the pit. Scoop the avocado out of the skin and into a small bowl. Add yogurt, lime juice, and minced or grated garlic. Use a potato masher or large fork to combine the ingredients and smash into desired consistency. Add black pepper to taste. Serve with whole-grain tortilla chips and/or fresh vegetables as described above.

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Topics: child rearing  childhood obesity  cooking with kids  easy recipes  feeding kids  healthy kids  toddler  food tips  kid-friendly food  recipe  recipes  snacks