Let’s face it… kids can have some pretty inconsistent eating habits. There are days when all they do is pick at their food, and sometimes they just skip meals altogether. That’s where healthy snacks for kids can come in. They can be used to sneak essential nutrients into the diets of growing kids, and can be an energy boost to help children get through their active days.
Think of snack time as a mini-meal. Serve whole foods, such as fruits, vegetables, lean proteins, and whole grains instead of processed options that can be loaded with sugar, salt, and saturated fats. Need some inspiration? We think your little ones will love these sweet and savory picks.
Avoid sugary yogurt snacks and choose plain Greek yogurt as a healthier option. Four ounces makes for a light snack, delivers over 10 grams of protein, as well as calcium and vitamin D, which kids need to build strong and healthy bones.
You can also add your own fresh fruit and spices, like apples and cinnamon, to amp up flavor without adding sugar. Stonyfield Organic has a great whole-milk variety for little ones and a non-fat version for everyone else in your family.
Veggies and Hummus
If you haven’t tried hummus, you’re missing out on a creamy snack that can be served in a variety of ways. Made from chickpeas, this nutrient-rich dip is a good source of complex carbs and is low on the glycemic index like other legumes.
Dish out two tablespoons of hummus (Sabra Classic Hummus is a favorite), and serve with veggies like baby carrots and bell pepper slices for a quick and easy kid-sized snack. For something more substantial, hummus also works as a tasty spread on sandwiches. Here’s a recipe to make your own homemade hummus in less than five minutes.
Whole Wheat Crackers or Fruits and Veggies with All-Natural Nut Butter
The combination of peanut butter and crackers is timeless, but it might be time for a makeover. Move away from nut butter brands that contain hydrogenated oil, and opt for all-natural peanut butter or almond butter like Justin’s Classic Almond Butter which has no added salt or sugar.
You also may want to try sunflower butter. A two tablespoon serving of SunButter has the same amount of protein as peanut butter, but contains more Vitamin E, and has four grams of fiber.
Instead of processed, salty crackers like saltines, opt for apples, celery, or whole-grain crackers. Crunchmaster 7 Ancient Grains crackers are a good choice, as they’re made from wholesome ingredients like brown rice flour and millet.
Forget the gas station meat sticks that you may have gnawed on as a kid and embrace quality brands like Brooklyn Biltong or Nick’s Traditional Beef Jerky. This mess-free snack is easy to take on-the-go and can be a great way to sneak more protein in your little one’s diet. For younger kids, break the jerky up into smaller pieces that are easier for them to chew.
Just make sure you pay attention to the sodium content. The sodium recommendation for children ages one to three years old is 1,000 mg a day, four to eight years old is 1,200 mg a day, and kids ages nine and older is 1,500 mg a day. If you want to give your child a high-protein snack without worrying about the sodium content, another mess-free snack are hard-boiled eggs.
Chia Seed Snacks
Are chia seeds one of your go-to superfoods? They’re a great option for children, too. Growing kids need essential fatty acids, like the omega-3s found in chia seeds. These tiny seeds make for a simple, nutrient-dense addition to homemade smoothies, oatmeal, and baked goods, like these raspberry muffins.
They might also like chia pudding and can be modified to include your little one’s favorite fruits and flavors. Here are six tasty chia pudding recipes to get you started. Take 10 minutes to put it together in the morning and it’ll have transformed into a pudding when it’s time for dessert.
You might only think of edamame as a salad topping or a pre-sushi appetizer, but it’s also an effortless snack. It’s a breeze to prepare (gently boil and sprinkle with a little sea salt), and popping the little beans out of their shells is fun for kids and keeps them occupied — a win-win!
Half a cup of cooked edamame is packed with about 9 grams of plant-based protein and 3 grams of satisfying fiber. Find them in the frozen section in most grocery stores, or the more budget-friendly option, 365 by Whole Foods.