“Did you remember the snacks?” or “What’s for snack?” These are two of the most common questions a parent will hear for a number of their parenting years. Snacks are super important to anyone who can’t get into a PG-13 movie on their own. Does it stop once they can get into an R rated movie? I’m not sure but I do know snacks are big part of any childhood day. Just keeping up with the snacks can feel like a chore, let alone finding healthy snack ideas.
Snacks are important and shouldn’t be overlooked when helping your child build a healthy lifestyle. Your child’s snacks can either be fuel for a healthy body or make your child sick. Which would you choose? It can be overwhelming if this is new to you and your child, but everyone has to start somewhere. Whether you are making a few healthier swaps or if you are upping your healthy snack game, we have some ideas and suggestions for you.
5 Healthy Snacking Tips
Buy Organic – To avoid unnecessary pesticides, buy organic when you are able, especially when it comes to the dirty dozen. These harmful chemicals are bad for gut health and have been linked to a variety of illnesses. Did you know studies have shown children have higher levels of pesticides than their parents?
Find Whole Food Options – Avoid long ingredient lists full of chemicals, dyes and additives. Make whole, real foods a part of the snack routine .Keep the ingredient list short when you buy boxed foods. Your child will get the most nutritional benefit from whole foods and it’s best to avoid ingredients you can’t identify. At best, they might be fillers with no nutritional value and at worst, they may be chemicals linked to cancer or ADHD. (1)
Avoid Allergens and Inflammatory Foods– Is your child having trouble following directions or paying attention in class? Allergens and inflammatory foods might be unnecessarily stimulating your child’s immune system. Avoid inflammatory foods and make sure to test for your child’s food allergies so you can find the best allergy friendly snacks.
Skip Added Sugars – The American Heart Association recommends a maximum of 25 grams of added sugar per day, but they say the average American child consumes 81 grams per day which works out to be 65 pounds in a year. (2) Check labels for added sugars which lead to obesity, inflammation and illness.
Don’t Forget to Add Variety – Once you find a healthy snack your child likes stick with it but don’t do the same thing for every snack. Your child needs a variety of nutrients. It’s also important to rotate snacks to avoid developing an allergy. You also want to expose your child to different foods as their taste buds are always changing. Your child will grow up enjoying what they are exposed to. Jicama might not be on the list today, but it might be tomorrow! And speaking of variety, make it fun with a note or a cute shape. Add a few gluten free graham crackers to ants on a log for a memorable snack.
14 Healthy Snack Ideas
1 – Veggie Chips – You can buy veggie chips made with a variety of root vegetables like carrots, sweet potatoes, parsnips and beets. Even better – you can make your own veggie chips easily like this Kale Chips recipe or Sweet Potato Chips recipe.
2 – Fruit Snacks – If you buy your fruit snacks, make sure to check for added sugars and artificial ingredients. Once you try our Easy, No Sugar Fruit Rollup recipe, you might just decide to make your own instead of buying them.
3 – Guacamole – Avocados are loaded with nutrients and healthy fats which makes guacamole the perfect match for a healthy snack. Try this recipe or if you hate the battle for perfectly ripe avocados, pick up individual cups or organic guacamole. We like to dip our veggie chips or grain free chips in guacamole.
4 – Beef Jerky – Find local, grass fed jerky for a snack that’s perfect, portable and protein-packed. Make sure it’s organic!
5 – Fruit with Dip – Don’t forget to mix up your fruits! We get stuck on ones we know our kids like when there are so many out there like strawberries, blueberries, cherries, kiwi, mangoes, pineapples, watermelons, cantaloupes, pears, grapes, raspberries, oranges, and of course apples! And there are so many more. Try dipping in a nut or seed butter or a dairy-free yogurt.
6 – Fruit Kabob and Fun Shapes – Make your fruit even more fun with a fruit kabob or use a cookie cutter to cut fun shapes. It’s also a fun way to add new fruits for your child to try.
Healthy Snacks Continued
7 – Protein or Energy Balls – Protein balls are so yummy and it’s easy to swap ingredients for different allergies. Try this recipe for No Bake Chocolate Chip Protein Balls and, for when you don’t have time to make protein balls, check out Figgy Pops. They have a variety of flavors too.
8 – Veggies and Dip – Mix up your veggies, too! Broccoli, carrots, jicama sticks, bell peppers, cucumbers, cauliflower, and celery are some of your options. Dip them in our Dairy-free Ranch Recipe or try dipping them in guacamole.
9 – Cookie Dough Hummus – This yummy cookie dough hummus recipe will satisfy the sweet tooth with healthier ingredients. Who knew chickpeas were so versatile?
10 – Chia Pudding – Chia seeds are full of fiber, protein, and healthy omega 3’s. They have also been shown to help with hydration. Try one (or all) of these 3 chia pudding recipe flavors that are far healthier than traditional puddings.
11 – Fruit Pouches – Organic fruit pouches are a super portable snack without the mess, and you can find ones with chia seeds. Always check for added sugars and allergens though!
12 – Gluten-free Muffins – Muffins are an easy snack that you can make ahead and freeze for later. Try these Blueberry Lemon Muffins or the Grain-Free Zucchini Muffins.
13 – Nuts and Seeds – There are so many seeds and nuts out there to try! A nut you are allergic to is never healthy but there are plenty to choose from. Try almonds, macadamia nuts, sunflower seeds or pumpkin seeds. Avoid vegetable oils when choosing healthy nuts.
14 – Trail Mix –There are so many nuts and seeds to choose from why not make a trail mix with superfoods like dark chocolate and goji berries. By making your own you can customize for your child’s allergies and tastes while avoiding sugar.
Healthy Snacking is Possible
Snacks happen every day and multiple times a day. Make them healthy snack options and always work on mixing up your snack game. Snack choices can be the difference between getting through the day strong or tanking in the afternoon. We all get stuck sometimes and need to remember to find new options as we keep building healthy lifestyles for our children.
Written by Dr. Patrick Flynn
Learn About the Benefits of Goji Berries and How to Make a Trail Mix with Dr. Patrick Flynn: