Should your family eat this or that? How many of these would you have picked?
Yogurt or applesauce? Burger or hot dog? Find out in this nutritional smack down.
Peanut Butter and Jelly or a Ham-and-Swiss Sandwich?
The better choice: PB & J.
Two tablespoons of any kind of peanut butter provides about eight grams of protein. And peanut butter is a great source of monounsaturated fats, which help increase good-cholesterol levels and protect against heart disease. (Ham is much higher in sodium, and cheese adds saturated fat.) You can also use low-sugar jelly to reduce calories, says Amy Jamieson-Petonic, a spokesperson for the American Dietetic Association (ADA).
Keep in mind: Even though peanut butter is a healthy choice, it still has 16 grams of fat a serving. Spread it sparingly and, ideally, on whole-wheat bread.
Puffed Rice Cereal or Raisin Bran?
The better choice: Raisin bran.
"Iron-rich raisins pack a nutritional punch, and one cup of raisin bran has around seven grams of fiber, which kids don't get enough of," says Elisa Zied, M.S., R.D., the author of Feed Your Family Right! (John Wiley & Sons, $17, amazon.com). Fiber recommendations by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) range from 19 grams, for 1- to 3-year-olds, to 31 grams, for 9- to 13-year-old males. Also, cereals with flakes retain more of their nutritional value than puffed varieties, according to a 2006 study published in Food Chemistry.
Keep in mind: Be sure to brush after eating the sugarcoated raisins―one serving of raisin bran has 19 grams of sugar.
Apple Juice or Orange Juice?
The better choice: Orange juice.
When comparing apples to oranges, OJ is the clear favorite. Eight ounces of 100 percent natural juice has more than twice the amount of vitamin C recommended by the USDA for children ages 1 to 13 (and six times the amount found in an equal serving of apple juice). Even if your child drinks a small glass (more like four ounces), she'll probably get her daily fix.
Keep in mind: For complete nutrition and a fuller, satisfied feeling, nothing beats going directly to the source. Eat an apple or an orange instead.
Hamburger or Hot Dog?
The better choice: Hamburger.
Headed to a barbecue? Opt for a burger, which is lower in saturated fat than a hot dog, contains a healthy dose of B vitamins (which keep the immune and nervous systems humming), and is an excellent source of protein (18 grams in three ounces of 95 percent–lean beef). "A hefty nutritional package," says Elizabeth Ward, M.S., R.D., the author of The Complete Idiot's Guide to Feeding Your Baby and Toddler (Alpha Books, $17, amazon.com). Plus, a study of more than 37,000 women found that frequent consumption of processed meats, like hot dogs, may be linked to type 2 diabetes.
Keep in mind: When making burgers at home, use ground meat that is at least 90 percent lean, since 85 percent lean has nearly eight more grams of fat per three-ounce serving than 95 percent–lean meat.
Pretzels or Cheerios?
The better choice: Cheerios.
When packing the ubiquitous snack bag to toss to a kid in a car seat (or to quiet a screamer in a stroller), choose the O's. Not only are they fortified with vitamins and minerals, but a one-cup serving also contains six milligrams of iron, which is just shy of a kid's daily allowance. Iron is crucial for development of the brain and the nervous system. In addition, Cheerios are made with whole grains and little sugar―a rarity in a cereal (or a snack, for that matter).
Keep in mind: As snacks go, pretzels aren't bad. They're low in fat and calories. To increase their nutritional value, choose whole-wheat pretzels and low- or no-sodium varieties