One of the biggest challenges moms have each day is healthy snacks! What can we feed our kids that will taste great AND be good for their growing brains and bodies? Sometimes figuring out what to put on the table for main meals like breakfast, lunch and dinner are a bit easier. Healthy snacks are challenging since they are enjoyed on the go. They can’t be too messy and need to be filling, flavorful and chock full of the nutrition kids need. Add to that a desire to avoid highly processed foods like cereals and crackers and sugary treats like cookies, and making mindful snack choices can start to feel daunting.
Here are six healthy snacks your children will love.
1. Roasted Sweet Potato (with the skin)
Sweet potatoes are a great snack for kids and adults alike. They are filling, a bit sweet, and pack easily on the go. Plus, they are a good source of vitamin A, C, and folate. Here are a few ways you can prepare them:
- Bake them whole with the skin at 350 degrees for about an hour or until sweet sap oozes from the skin. This sweet sap lets you know the sweet potato is perfectly cooked and super sweet.
- Slice them into thin rounds and bake at 375 degrees on a parchment lined cookie sheet until golden brown and crispy.
- Cut 3 medium sweet potatoes into wedges slightly larger than french fries. Toss with 2 tablespoons melted coconut oil or ghee and 1/2 teaspoon sea salt. Transfer to a greased baking sheet and cook at 400 degrees for about 30 minutes or until golden brown and a bit crisp.
Whichever way you slice them, kick the flavor up a notch by sprinkling with ground cinnamon, Italian herb blend or paprika.
2. Crispy Chickpeas
Crispy chickpeas are a great snack alternative to roasted nuts! They are a good source of plant-based protein for sustained energy, plus they are chock full of fiber to help keep kids regular. To make crispy chickpeas, toss two 15-ounce cans of no-sodium added, drained chickpeas with 2 tablespoons olive oil plus 1 teaspoon of sea salt. Transfer to a cookie sheet and bake at 375 degrees for about an hour, rotating the pan halfway through. For extra flavor, add a teaspoon of curry powder, smoked paprika or your favorite Italian herb blend.
3. Dates Stuffed with Almonds
This is a snack I like to refer to as the candy bar of the natural food world. The combination of sweet, chewy, caramelly dates and crispy, salty almonds reminds me of the candy bars I used to enjoy before I became a mindful eater. Here are two ways you can prep these nuggets of goodness. Pack an equal amount of dates and lightly salted almonds in a to-go bag or box. Alternatively, stuff each date with an almond. In either case, I LOVE Medjool Dates over Deglet. Be sure to choose lightly salted almonds to reduce your child’s salt intake.
4. Healthy Popcorn Snack Mix
Popcorn is great on its own, but when you add the healthy fat of nuts, antioxidant-rich dark chocolate, and naturally sweet dried fruit to the mix, you’ve got yourself a super satisfying and healthy snack.
It can be helpful to make a big batch of this and store it in airtight individual snack bags that you and your kids can grab on the go and enjoy.
To make my snack mix, simply combine 8 cups organic, low sodium popcorn with 1 cup lightly or unsalted nuts of choice, 1 cup dried fruit with no sugar added, and ¾ cup dark (65% or higher) chocolate chunks.
5. Baked Organic Tofu
Tofu and other soy foods have gotten a bad rap over the years. But traditionally-made soy products like organic tofu and tempeh can be a healthy choice when used as a snack or condiment and not as the main course. You can find pre-baked tofu in many health food stores. Be sure to read the label and check for ingredients you can read, understand and recognize as whole foods.
You can also make baked tofu yourself really easily. Here’s how:
Drain a 16-ounce package of organic extra firm tofu. Then to get extra liquid out of the tofu and improve texture and taste, wrap it in 2-3 layers of paper towel, or a dishcloth. Place wrapped tofu on a plate then put another plate on top. Finally put something heavy, like a 28 ounce can of beans or pasta sauce, on top of the plate. Allow tofu to sit like this for at least 30 minutes. Remove damp towels and cut tofu into 1-inch square pieces. Season cubes with sea salt then place on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Bake at 350 degrees for 20-45 minutes or until tofu is lightly browned and slightly crisp.
TIP: for extra flavor, marinate the tofu in the fridge for 30 minutes in a mixture of 1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil, 1 tablespoon low sodium tamari, 1 tablespoon rice vinegar and 1 tablespoon water.
6. Lentil Pasta
Bite-sized pasta shapes like fusilli or penne have long been a staple snack for busy parents. But as we all work to avoid too much wheat and gluten, serving our children pasta for snacks can feel out of alignment with our health and wellness goals. Enter the delicious lentil pasta. A GREAT alternative for processed white types of pasta is lentil-based noodles. They are a good source of protein, fiber, and iron. Serve them as a snack alone or tossed with your favorite tomato sauce. My favorite brand is called Tolerant, but Trader Joes also makes a lentil pasta that tastes great.
We’d love to hear from you. Share in the comments which of these ideas you will add to your list of go-to snacks for your kids?