Every parent and grandparent knows how hard it is to come up with healthy and healthyish snacks for busy kids on the go. Usually kids need several snacks between meals every single day, so parents can get tired of offering the same things over and over again.
The situation is even more fraught because there are so many sugar-laden snacks on the market that finding something reasonably healthy often seems like a pain. Things are even more complicated when you add in a picky eater, food allergies, and still-developing taste buds.
What’s a parent to do? We recommend putting away the Crack Jacks, hiding the potato chips, skipping fruit snacks and avoiding candy. We’ve put together 12 snack ideas that are quick, tasty and good for you.
In making this list, we followed food basics. For example, nut butters are great because they have protein and keep you feeling full longer. Fruit is a frequent suggestion because it tastes great and gives kids sweetness without totally empty calories.
From Rice Krispie treats to rice balls to puffed rice cakes, rice cakes are still going strong. You can buy puffed rice snacks in many different flavors (no need to feel like you’re eating air). You can also make your own with just a box of Rice Krispies.
Popcorn makes a great snack as long as it isn’t covered in butter or caramel. Three cups of popcorn is about 4 grams of fiber, keeping kids feeling full. You can make air-popped corn yourself and add toppings. There are also a ton of healthy popcorns on the market now, from Skinny Pop to BOOMCHICKAPOP, in nearly every flavor.
There’s a reason peanut butter and jelly is still so popular. They’re quick and are perfect for travel or just everyday life. You can make your own, or stock up on Uncrustables. Also, think about getting your kids involved making pancake PB&j sandwiches. Just buy some mini pancakes that heat up in the microwave. After defrosting, spread nut butter and jelly and then stick the two halves together.
You can make Ice Pops all summer long and the kids can help. This can be as simple as putting orange juice, cranberry juice, or your other favorite in an ice cube tray with a stick in it until frozen. You can also get creative, mixing greek yogurt with your favorite juice (be sure to opt for sugar-free yogurt).
Don’t be afraid to include whole fruits in your frozen pops. Blueberries, watermelon, and kiwi slices can be put in the tray, too.
Of course there are also many popsicles and ice treats in the frozen foods section as well.
Bananas taste great and kids tend to love them, but sometimes they get boring. This is why you should fry them up with honey for a special, sugary treat. The caramelized banana has a deep flavor and it doesn’t take too much honey to make them taste like a decadent dessert, without all of the other bad stuff.
Hummus isn’t just for adults. It contains B6 vitamins, folate and iron, all things your kids need, so they should learn to love it. They can dip celery sticks, carrots, pita chips, or red pepper slices for a healthy treat.
But that’s not all. Buy some whole-wheat pita pockets and stuff them with cucumbers or your kids’ other favorite veggies, then slather on a few tablespoons of hummus. A hummus pita pocket will give them energy all day.
Natural Nut Butters
There’s a great variety of nut butters on the market, made from cashews, peanuts, almonds and much more. The natural nut butters are not weighed down by the sugar you find in Jif or Skippy. Nut butters make the perfect dip when paired with celery sticks, pretzel sticks, bananas, apples, and crackers. If opting for crackers, try for something whole wheat.
String cheese is one of the healthiest snacks out there. It is low in calories and fat, while being a good source of calcium and protein. Plus, it’s fun!
Waffle and Banana Sandwiches
You can get mini waffles to make sandwiches similar to the PB&J ones above. All you need to do is slice up half a banana, drizzle a bit of honey or maple syrup on top and then put the two waffles together.
Applesauce is delicious and there are many companies that make applesauce that is organic and contains no added sugars. For that apple pie taste, crush up a graham cracker on top right before serving.
You can make homemade pretzels using the two-ingredient dough recipe (1 cup Greek yogurt, 1 cup self-rising flour). Mix the dough and knead it for a few minutes. If sticky, add a tablespoon of flour until it’s soft and pliable.
You can make any pretzel you want – add cinnamon, raisins, even chocolate chips. Bake for 15-20 minutes at 400 degrees. This is a great treat for kids to make with you.
Frozen Yogurt “Candy”
If you freeze yogurt in an ice cube tray, you wind up with chunks of yogurt that look like candy. You can fool your child with this most of the time. Add cinnamon, apples, chocolate chips, or other toppings.