Although it may sometimes seem like it, snacking isn’t a bad habit to have, especially if it’s nutritious. Healthy snacks for kids can help them stay focused by curbing their hunger at school, as well as provide them with energy and key nutrients. If you forgo stocking the potato chips and cookies in your cupboard, believe it or not, your children will learn to live without them and select healthier choices instead. Plus, there are a variety of snacking ideas out there that won’t break the budgets or time constraints of parents.
Our 10 Favorite Healthy Snacks for Kids, From Around the Web
Apple Ladybug Treats
You’ve probably heard that an apple a day will keep the doctor away. Apples are not only rich in antioxidants (disease-fighting compounds), but also full of a fiber called pectin. Biting and chewing an apple jumpstarts the production of your saliva in your mouth as well, reducing tooth decay by decreasing bacteria levels. With this cute recipe for Apple Ladybug Treats, you can even encourage your kids to get involved in the snack making. So finally, they can go ahead and play with their food!
Peanut Butter Banana Smoothie
Yes, your child can still eat breakfast in the afternoon. For example, try some oatmeal made with low-fat milk and mixed with unsweetened apple sauce and cinnamon. Or what about a tasty smoothie (almost like ice cream)? Greatist.com has a Peanut Butter Banana Smoothie recipe that’s both delicious and fast (warning: parents may want to steal this one, too):
Have you ever seen a group of kids (or adults for that matter) at a party where there’s a heaping bowl of cheese dip next to a bag of tortilla chips? Well, why not give them the chance to dip (and dip again and again; sorry, double-dipping probably won’t be avoided) into something healthy and tasty? Hummus is a wonderful, easy-to-prepare choice, as it offers protein, and several essential vitamins and minerals. You can use whole-grain pita chips for dipping or a variety of colorful veggies. If you’re willing, don’t be afraid to get your kids in on the blending action, too. Check out this hummus recipe from PBS.
Your kids will go nuts over easy-to-make, nutritious snack mixes. Yes, you can make them yourself, and it doesn’t have to be the least bit challenging. We promise you’ll get an A for the effort and flavor though. There are a variety of wholesome ingredients you can pack into snack mixes, from raisins and dried cranberries to sunflower seeds and chopped nuts. Cooking Light offers some great insights into making mixes that are more meaningful to the body. They even have options for picky eaters. Best of all, all their suggestions are less than 125 calories per serving and are packed with fiber. Here’s just a taste, with their Cheese-Freak Mix (it’s really perfect for cheese lovers)
Broccoli & Cheddar Quesadillas
Move over boring grilled cheese, because quesadillas are the ultimate snack. Quesadillas are a snap to prepare. Plus, who could resist all the gooey deliciousness? Quesadillas are a great vehicle for flavor, and you can fill them with an array of vegetables and proteins. Here’s one convenient way to use that leftover broccoli in your fridge (and get your kids to eat it up, too), with broccoli and cheddar quesadillas.
Chocolate-Peanut Butter Banana Pops
As it turns out, frozen is a big hit with kids (and we don’t just mean the movie). Ignore the call of the ice cream truck and prepare some creative frozen treats of your own. Your kids could and should get in on the action, too. Need a little inspiration? Sample these quick and easy chocolate-peanut butter banana pops from Simple Bites.
Easy Guacamole for Kids
Avocados provide nearly 20 vitamins and minerals in every serving, including potassium, lutein (good for the eyes) and folate (critical for cell repair), just to name a few. Whether you slice them or smash them up for some guacamole, they’re also a great kid snack. Popsugar.com has a quick, kid-approved recipe for guacamole that includes nothing complicated and everything appetizing. All you’ll need are two ripe avocados, one-half teaspoon of kosher salt and one tablespoon of lime juice, and you can let the fiesta begin!
Simple Tortilla Pizzas
Perfect for a snack or a meal, tortillas are also a healthier base for pizza. More importantly, 99 percent of the pickiest of eaters will dive into pizza of some kind. Tortillas are readily available and cost less than ordering a takeout pizza, too. To get the ideal crispy, flaky crust, and the bubbliest of cheese, you’ll want to take note of this tortilla pizza recipe from Cookie + Kate.
Grab and Go Granola Bars
There are plenty of store varieties available, and yes, some of them are pretty healthy, but you can also make your own granola bars. Make them ahead of time and take them wherever you and your family roam for a handy, nutritious snack. Superhealthykids.com has a delicious grab-and-go granola bar recipe that will conquer your child’s cravings.
Get Popping With Popcorn
Popcorn equals happiness. In fact, studies have actually shown that eating popcorn can produce a relaxing, mood-enhancing effect. It also happens to be the best companion for any movie night. Despite its health potential, popcorn purchased at the theater, concession stand or prepackaged from the grocery store isn’t always so good for you (as it often contains loads of butter and salt). Thankfully, you can learn how to whip up several healthy versions of this snack giant with some healthy popcorn recipes from Greatist.com (who knows, the kids might give you a standing ovation, too.).
Why Healthy Snacks for Kids Matter
Snacking isn’t something that has to lead to unhealthy weight gain. Because childhood is a time of rapid growth, meeting the nutritional needs associated with normal development is critical to a child’s lasting wellness.
Kids have much smaller stomachs than adults, and healthy snacks for kids can provide valuable nutrients between meals to help them reach their daily nutritional needs. The key for parents (and for children) is to learn how to make healthy snack choices, and minimize snacks that are high in added sugars and fats.
The following tips may help you offer good snacking choices to your children at appropriate times:
Don’t let snacks replace a meal. Therefore, avoid serving large snacks. Small portions are particularly key for occasional snacks that have added sugars and less nutritional value.
Offer structured meals and snacks to prevent kids from eating out of boredom. Serve regular meals and snacks about every three to four hours.
Even with proper scheduling, be sure to listen to your kids to allow them to recognize when they may be hungry or full.
Don’t use food as a reward or a means to calm an upset child. Avoid cookies, candy or other treats to make up for a meal not eaten.
Try to be prepared. Have healthy snacks readily available to make it easier for your child to make smarter snack decisions.
When planning snacks, be aware of food allergies and potential choking hazards. Not all snacks are appropriate for all children.