I think about food a lot – not only eating it but how I can create the most flavoursome and nourishing meals and snacks possible. It’s not uncommon for me to wake in the night and write a recipe in my head – that’s the slightly obsessive side to my personality I’m revealing, ha ha!
So coming up with a variety of meals and healthy snacks for my family has always come fairly easily to me; in part because of my preoccupation with food but also because of my love of cooking (plus many years studying nutrition has helped too).
Also, having first hand experience of being seriously unwell really motivates me to prioritise my time to ensure my family are getting as much nourishment from their diet as possible. Doing what I can to ensure the very best health for myself and my family is super important to me (you can read more about my past heart condition here and Graves disease here).
In my experience, snacks are often where many kids diets are let down with most commercially available ‘snack’ food not only nutritionally void, but often actually detrimental to good health and development. Just because it’s ‘just a snack’ doesn’t mean it should lack nourishment! Snacks are very different from treats in my mind. So today I thought I’d share my thoughts and ideas on healthy snacks for kids.
My first recommendation when coming up with an easy to prepare ‘snack’ for your kids is to drop your preconceptions about what food actually constitutes a snack. Changing your mindset around certain foods being more suitable at certain times of the day will actually really help to simplify how you feed your family all round.
My point is that any whole food can be eaten at any time, in any way. It is a food marketers dream to have us believe that certain foods are ‘breakfast’ or ‘dinner’ or ‘snack’ foods, or that the yoghurt in those expensive baby pouches is any better for our babies than the big (less expensive) tubs of natural yoghurt on the adjacent shelves. I can feel a rant coming on!
Healthy Snack Ideas for Kids…
The short answer is if your kids are hungry, feed them any whole food they like, portioned to satisfy them, but not spoil their appetite for their next meal.
Still drawing a blank? Here are some examples of the kinds of things my kids might have as snacks. It’s not a complete list as my kids dwell in a household where I am constantly recipe testing and experimenting with wonderful food, but it’s a snapshot…
- a snack is often a small portion of a leftover meal, sometimes reheated or often even cold if they are happy to eat it that way (as we don’t have a microwave)
- soups make amazing, nourishing snacks for kids and are a great opportunity to get your kids eating more veggies. It’s pretty simple to make up a big pot of their favourite soup and freeze it in recycled glass jars. I often heat it up and pop it in a thermos for my kids to drink in the car on their way to after school sport.
- my kids love antipasto type plates with perhaps some cheese, crackers, olives, gherkins or pickled onions. I often throw on a piece of fruit or some raw veggies too.
- fill kids up on fruit that has some protein with it. Apple with nut butter or cheese is delicious. Fruit kebabs (with cheese between) appeals to lots of kids. A good ‘ole banana is packed with goodness and great fuel before after school sport.
- celery sticks with tahini or nut butter is delicious. My 9 year old this week tried and loved carrot sticks smeared with nut butter (my kids like to experiment, though I don’t recommend rocket blended in smoothies as my 9 year old once tried, though spinach, having a milder flavour works well).
- nuts and seeds are great snacks for kids. I have some ways to make them extra delicious here. In a large recent study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, regular consumption of nuts (over 5 times a week) was linked to significantly lower inflammatory biomarkers. So in a nutshell, regular consumption of nuts can reduce chronic inflammation and associated diseases.
- biltong, jerky or air dried meat is a real favourite in our household. Just make sure you source a brand with no hidden nasties.
- a boiled egg with perhaps some fruit or veggies is a filling, simple snack.
- veggies and dip is really popular too. Hummus or pesto are our favourites.
- frozen yoghurt cups are on high demand, especially in summer. You can freeze any leftover smoothie or follow a recipe like my Fruit Whip, here.
- berries, nuts and natural or unsweetened Greek yoghurt is much more nourishing than processed ‘flavoured’ yoghurts.
- a fruit smoothie is another favourite in our household. They can also be stored in a thermos flask to keep them cold.
- I also bake batches of cookies, slices and savoury crackers and keep them in the freezer so that I always have a healthy, nourishing snack to grab and go. My Protein Bars are very popular after school snacks and can be eaten from frozen. ALL of the 50+ nut-free recipes in “The Well Nourished Lunchbox” ebook make great snacks and can be frozen to help save time.
- Nutrition Advance also has a huge list of snacks for kids that’s worth checking out.
Well that’s it for healthy snack ideas for kids. Remember, any whole food your kids enjoy is good to snack on.
Next week, I plan to share a recipe for my healthy version of 2 minute noodles and a firm favourite in our household. Stay tuned!