ROANOKE, Va. -

Carilion Dietitian Martha Ross recommends children have one to three small, healthy snacks a day. But sometimes getting kids to eat the right stuff can be a challenge.

Ross says there are several ways to expose children to healthy foods -- starting at an early age and making it fun. She offers several easy tips to help make eating healthy exciting for kids:

  • Freeze grapes or banana slices. It's a good alternative to ice cream or Popsicles.
  • Put fruit instead of ice cream in an ice cream cone or muffin liner
  • Use a muffin liner for portion control. They hold about four ounces, which is the size of a snack of gold fish, low fat cheese crackers or fruit.
  • Use three  crackers with low fat cheese. Kids love to cut the cheese in to shape with small cookie cutters.
  • Slice a banana long-way and fill with peanut butter or other nut butter. Then cut into coin shape.
  • Slice an apple horizontally and spread peanut butter and cinnamon. Use nuts to make a smiley face.
  • Use an empty egg container with leftover plastic Easter eggs and fill them with different food items.
  • Put fruit or nuts in a sandwich bag. Clamp a decorated clothes pin in the center of the bag to look like a butterfly. The clips are reusable!
  • Bake some fresh peaches and blueberries with cinnamon in microwave. Use a little honey if needed.

Ross also reminds parents that the "Food Pyramid" system is obsolete. She says the most effective system of servings is "My Plate." You can learn about daily servings needed for yourself and your children here.

If you'd like to submit your own ideas for a fun, healthy snack, click here. We'll share these results Friday.