Back to school season is right around the corner (are you as excited as I am?!) which means healthy kids’ snacks are a priority. Whether your child eats school lunch or brings lunch from home, healthy snacks are perfect for lunch, a mid-morning snack or an after-school snack.
The following guest post is written by Julie Revelant, founder of JulieRevelant.com, where she teaches parents how to raise healthy kids who crave healthy food.
While I do my best to pack real, whole foods for my daughters’ snacks like broccoli, asparagus and blueberries (yes, seriously!), most of their classmates bring in Goldfish, pretzels and gummy “fruit” snacks. as their school snacks for kids.
Healthy Kids’ Snacks
And research shows this is true for most kids. According to a March 2010 study in Health Affairs, kids reach for snacks 3 times a day and consume up to 600 calories from foods like chips, crackers and candy. Healthy Kids’ Snacks 101: When, What and How Much
And I totally get it. Whether you work full-time, part-time, in an office, from home or not at all, thinking about healthy kids’ snacks for school or after-school takes time—time most of us don’t have. Serving up a package of something that’s salty, sweet and super-tasty is much easier and something you know your kid will eat.
This school year however, I’d like to challenge you to ditch some—if not all—the bags, boxes and packages of processed foods and take snack time up a notch with healthy, whole foods. Since kids love snacks anyway, it’s a great opportunity to take advantage of their hunger and get more fruits and veggies in their diets. When children become familiar with healthy kids’ snacks, they usually enjoy them and often, even prefer healthy snacks.
Need ideas for Easy Healthy Snacks?
Here are six snack ideas that are healthier snack choices.
Veggies & Dip
There’s perhaps no better combination for a kid than bite-sized foods and dip and fortunately, it’s also a great way to get serve up vegetables.
Try baby carrots, celery or jicama sticks, slices of cucumber and bell peppers, broccoli, radishes and cauliflower (try green, purple and yellow varieties too!).
Pair veggies with hummus, guacamole, or a bean or edamame dip. If you’re buying a store-bought dip, read labels and avoid those with added sugars and artificial ingredients. Otherwise, make your own.
Chia Seed Pudding with Fruit
Kids love pudding but most types you’ll find in the store have a ton of artificial ingredients and are high in sugar.
Enter chia seed pudding.
Chia seeds are a superfoods for kids and a great way to get more plant-based foods in their diets.
High in protein and fiber, chia seeds will satisfy your kid’s hunger and prevent overeating. They’re also a good source of calcium, and the highest plant source of omega-3 fatty acids, which studies show support cardiovascular health, lower inflammation, prevent chronic disease, and support brain health.
Making your own chia seed pudding is really easy and quick: just add about 1 2/3 cups of your favorite milk with 1/2 cup chia seeds. Add mix-ins like cacao or cocoa powder, pure vanilla extract and cinnamon, a drizzle of honey or maple syrup. Refrigerate overnight and then top with fresh or frozen fruit—delish!
Apple with Nut Butter
Most kids love apples and fortunately, they’re one of the best healthy kids’ snacks for back to school.
Apples are high in fiber: one medium apple has more than 4 grams of fiber. They’re also a great source of vitamin C and quercetin, an antioxidant that may improve cognitive function, one study in mice found.
Add your kid’s favorite nut butter for a protein- and fiber-filled snack that will keep their hunger at bay until dinner.
I’m not a fan of sneaky tactics to get kids to eat healthy, but I like making green smoothies for my kids because they’re a healthy and delicious way to increase the amount of veggies they consume.
And since they’re green, there’s no surprise what’s in it.
Green smoothies can be a healthy kid’s snack but stick to an 80/20 ratio of vegetables and fruit to reduce the amount of sugar in the fruit.
Here’s my recipe: blend one cup of almond milk, 2 cups of spinach, 2 stalks of celery and one banana. You can also add peanut butter or chia seeds.
If you’re going to start making smoothies often, consider purchasing a blender designed for making smoothies.
No-Bake Energy Bites
Energy bites or energy balls are one of the best healthy kids’ snacks because they’re bite-sized, quick and easy and you don’t have to turn on your oven.
You can find tons of recipes online but most include ingredients like rolled oats, bananas, dates, raisins and other dried fruit, nut butter, nuts and seeds.
Make a large batch, pop them in the freezer and you’ll always have healthy snacks on hand.
Homemade Trail Mix
High in protein and fiber, and healthy fats kids need for proper growth and development, nuts and seeds also make for a great snack option.
Store-bought trail mixes are quick and easy, but most brands are filled with salty nuts and high in sugar thanks to lots of dried fruit, “yogurt-” covered raisins, chocolate chips and M&Ms.
A better choice? Make your own homemade trail mix so you can control the ingredients. Choose unsalted almonds, cashews, walnuts, pecans, pumpkin seeds, and sunflower seeds.
For dried fruit, stick with unsweetened types like raisins, cranberries, dried cherries and apricots but don’t go overboard. You can add chocolate but stick with dark chocolate and sprinkle in a small amount.
My family’s favorite healthy snack idea is this recipe for Clean Eating Granola bars.
What are some of your go-to healthy kids’ snacks for back to school? Leave a comment! Be sure to pin for later.