As a busy mom, feeding your children healthy snacks can be a challenge. However, there are a slew of great ways to give your children the nutrients they need that are easy to pack into their lunches or use for on-the-go snacks. The following snack foods are filled with vitamins, minerals, nutrients, and antioxidants and can be prepared in just a few minutes. Many can also be prepared ahead of time so that by spending just an hour in the kitchen on the weekend gives your kids healthy snacks for the whole week. Say buh-bye to those processed Goldfish® and Teddy Grahams® once and for all!
1. Nut butters
Nut butters are all the rage these days and there are so many varieties! If your kids are tired of the old peanut butter (or have allergies), try almond or cashew butters. We even have a super yummy recipe for pistachio butter! If you do purchase your nut butters in a grocery store, be sure to look for brands that only contain the nut itself— no added oils or sugars.
Take note that nut butter isn't just for sandwiches either! It can be spread on just about anything from apple slices, celery sticks, or whole grain crackers. Get creative!
Obviously you can't go wrong with vegetables. They are one of the healthiest snack options for your kids, and as a bonus, they are convenient to pack fresh in your kids' lunches. Get your children to enjoy veggies by serving them with a yummy dip. Go for something like celery sticks with natural nut butter, baby carrots with hummus, or sugar snap peas with a homemade dill yogurt dip. I've known kids who even love the classic sliced fresh tomatoes with a bit of mozzarella cheese and fresh basil. It's fun to expand their horizons by getting them to try new flavor combos!
While high sugar content is a constant struggle with kid snacks, fresh fruit contains natural sugars and is full of vitamin C, immune-boosting antioxidants and other nutrients. So swap out those processed fruit snacks for a mix of sliced strawberries and bananas, a berry bowl of raspberries and blueberries, those cute little clementines, or even a smoothie with a little nut butter tossed in for some extra protein fuel.
And don't forget to let the kids get involved! Help them to create funny faces or pretty designs with their fruits, and veggies too. For some reason I think it always tastes better that way 🙂
Childhood obesity is an epidemic and there's no doubt that you want to avoid loading your child up on sugary snacks and fat-rich foods. However not all fats are bad... as long as you choose the right types. One of the best snack foods that contains healthy, nourishing fats is nuts. Choosing hearty, protein-rich nuts such as almonds, cashews, and walnuts are simple to portion size for your kids. They are satisfying and provide quality energy and focus for those developing brains. Mix up a variety of different nuts with some raisins or dried cranberries and coconut oil cooked banana chips and you've got one delicious trail mix!
Healthy seeds such as pumpkin and sunflower seeds are loaded with vitamins, minerals and nutrients. Like nuts, seeds contain healthy fats and help to improve your child's concentration and memory. Nutrients such as vitamin K and zinc are included in pumpkin and sunflower seeds. Plus they're easy to pack in your child's lunch or hand out during after-school snack time. You can find packages of nutrient-rich seeds at just about any grocery or health food store, not to mention the fun of roasting your pumpkin seeds after carving Halloween jack o' lanterns!
6. Beef Jerky
What kid doesn't like beef jerky? It may seem like an unhealthy snack, but one serving of nitrate-free beef jerky is loaded with protein that will keep your kids alert for the entirety of the school day. Because they can be found individually packaged, this protein-rich snack takes no preparing on your part. Or, if purchasing a whole package, separate the beef jerky into single-serving baggies that are ready to put into your kids' lunches. Pay attention to the label and be sure to pick up beef jerky that is nitrate-free and free of other additives and flavorings.
One of my favorite brands is EPIC, as their jerky is not only nitrate-free but their animals are also sustainably raised and treated properly. They offer a variety of different types of meats such as beef, bison, chicken and pork. Their snack-sized jerky bars are soft (unlike many jerkies that threaten to rip your teeth out!) and are sweetened with natural fruits. They're equally awesome for adults too! They can be found in many health food stores or online here.
7. Hard Boiled Eggs
They're not just for Easter anymore! Your kids can enjoy hard-boiled eggs year-round as a snack that's easy for you to prepare ahead of time. If you have some extra time on the weekend, boil a dozen eggs and they will last for a week in the refrigerator. At room temperature, hard-boiled eggs last a couple hours, so it's better to put them in your child's lunch box with an ice pack. Make it fun for your kids by letting them decorate their egg shells after you're finished boiling them.
There's nothing wrong with a little good fat in your child's diet. Olives are one of the best nutritious fats around and what's better than sticking these little round snacks on your fingertips? Not only will your kids get the proper energy they need during snack time, but they will have a fun time doing it! Pack a handful of black or green olives in their lunch bag for a fresh take on snacking.
9. Dried Fruits
If you're looking for a healthy snack that is less perishable, dried fruit is a great option. It packs the same vitamins and nutrients that fresh fruit does, but it lasts a lot longer in your pantry. Separate dried fruit bags into single-serving snack baggies when you're preparing meals for the week and throw a baggie into your child's lunch as a fun treat. Dried fruits such as pineapples, coconuts, bananas, apricots, prunes and peaches taste just as delicious as fresh fruit and doesn't include the added sugar that canned fruit does. But remember that they still do contain quite a bit of natural sugars. Just be sure to give you kids limited amounts, because remember that when a plum is dried into a prune, for instance, it is much smaller than the original fruit which can be deceiving to little hungry hands!
10. Coconut Water
Active kids need their electrolytes, but most sports drinks are loaded with additives, colorings and corn syrup. Why not try giving them coconut water? This tropical drink is delicious and will be a fun treat for your kids. It also helps them stay hydrated and active during their sports games or after school activities. You can get coconut water in large jugs that is easy to pour into smaller drink containers, or you can get small bottles to pack into the ice chest when you're getting ready for their weekend games.
So remember, even busy moms can feed their children healthy snacks that are both easy to prepare and nutritiously delicious. And don't forget that sweets are okay for your kids to indulge on occasionally too! A treat like dark chocolate is chock-full of antioxidants and will be sure to put a smile on a little one's face 🙂