Is snack time a constant battle in your household? Many parents who have mastered the art of preparing nutritious meals for their families still trip up when it comes to steering clear of chips and candy during the midday lull. Eating healthy as a family is tricky, especially if a child deals with a food sensitivity or other digestive problems like irritable bowel syndrome.
But here’s the good news. While snack temptations abound, there are ample options for choosing healthy treats instead. If you’re seeking some inspiration for providing tasty yet healthy snacks for kids, this article is the perfect place to start.
Eight Healthy Snacks to Make for Your Kids
There are thousands of recipes online for healthy meal ideas, but some parents come up short in their search for nutritious snack ideas. In the age of sugar-coated fruit snacks and chocolate candy parading as “healthy” granola bars, it can be hard to know where to look for healthier snack alternatives. Worst of all, many healthy kids snacks keep their calorie counts low by using dangerous artificial sweeteners instead.
1. Homemade Applesauce
It is often hard to convince young children that snacking on fresh fruit is worth the effort, but serving homemade applesauce can be the perfect solution. Far from just a fall treat, fresh applesauce is an ideal after-school snack at any time of the year, and it’s surprisingly versatile for incorporating in brownies and other baked goods as an egg or oil substitute.
For a basic recipe, peel, core and dice six large apples (as tart as preferred), and place them in a large pan or crockpot. Cover the apples with one cup of water and cook them on low, stirring regularly, until the apples lose their consistency. Mash them apart with a fork and stir in cinnamon to taste before serving the sauce either hot or cold.
To get a smoother sauce that satisfies even picky eaters, run the apple slices through a food processor before you cook them.
2. Veggies in a Blanket
Kids are big fans of finger foods, but filling them up with tater tots and mini corn dogs won’t do their health any favours. Serve up these fun and flavourful veggies in a blanket instead, and your child won’t realize their favourite snack is also good for them.
You can begin making these wraps by warming two flour tortillas in a dry pan so that they are easier to shape. Spread a layer of cream cheese inside, and coat it with your veggies of choice. Shredded carrot, sweet bell peppers, sugar snap peas, cucumber sticks, and baby spinach leaves all work well. Roll up and chill before serving for a filling yet refreshing snack.
3. Frozen Yogurt Grapes
Are you looking for a way to cool your kids down in the summer without relying on the artificial ingredients in neon-hued popsicles? This frozen grape treat might do the trick. Their crisp texture will cool kids down, and even picky eaters aren’t likely to notice the lack of added sugars. And since they are so easy to make, you can whip up a batch when the kids leave for school and have them frozen and waiting for when they return home.
All it takes to make a batch is a bunch of grapes, yogurt, and some toothpicks. Wash and destem the grapes before placing them on a baking tray and popping them in the freezer. After an hour or so of chilling, pull them out and let them sit for several minutes until they unthaw enough to insert the toothpicks easily. Then, dip the grapes in yogurt and any other toppings you prefer (toasted coconut works well) and pop them back into the freezer until you’re ready to eat them. Finally, an almost effortless popsicle that tastes great for kids and adults alike.
4. Crunchy Roasted Chickpeas
If your child can’t get enough of salty snacks, you can satisfy their cravings for chips and crackers with a healthier alternative instead- roasted chickpeas! These crunchy snacks are so savoury that it doesn’t take any convincing for most kids to eat them. Best of all, the fifteen grams of protein they contain per serving ensures that all snackers will stay full long after they finish them.
You can make roasted chickpeas easily by getting them straight from a can. First, drain and rinse the beans and spread them out on a towel to dry. It pays to take your time at this stage, as the more water you drain out, the crunchier the beans will be. Excess water when they first reach the oven might render your chickpeas mushy instead.
Once your beans are dried, you can drizzle them with olive oil and coat them with preferred seasonings. Parmesan cheese and sea salt are kid-friendly classics. Roast the chickpeas in the oven at 400 degrees for 30-35 minutes, and let them cool before eating. You can munch on them like popcorn or incorporate them into trail mix to get a broader mix of flavours. Either way, they won’t last long in your home.
5. Chocolate Hummus
Combating a sweet tooth is never easy, and getting kids to forget about brownies for healthier foods is all but impossible. However, you can fool the whole family into getting more nutrition at snack time with this delectable dip. Though it tastes like a fudgy frosting, you’re actually providing everyone with a healthy serving of chickpeas that is rich in protein and fiber and proven to improve digestion, blood sugar, and even cholesterol levels.
This hummus recipe is a simple take on standard savoury varieties that substitutes cocoa powder for garlic and peanut or almond butter for tahini. You’ll need to start with a can of no-salt-added chickpeas. If you can’t secure any, carefully rinse the regular peas in water to remove the salt instead. Then, pour them into your food processor with four tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder, two tablespoons all-natural nut butter, ¼ cup pure maple syrup (or to taste) and one teaspoon vanilla extract
Run the processor until everything is well blended, spoon out the resulting hummus, and enjoy! You can serve this hummus with pita bread, whole grain crackers and cut fruit for a decadent midday pick-me-up.
6. Apple “Cookies”
Incorporate the convenience of a cookie with the nutritional qualities of an apple, and what do you get? A simple, convenient snack that fills kids up without tasting overly healthy. To make these fruit-based “cookie” treats, just slice an apple into thin rounds, add a dollop of nut butter (all-natural almond butter works well) and stick semi-sweet chocolate chips to the top. You’ve created an instant dessert with little added sugar that will still satisfy a craving for sweetness in children and adults alike.
7. Cauliflower “Popcorn”
Can you convince your kid that a nutritious vegetable tastes as great as their favourite movie snack? “Not possible!” you’re probably thinking. If so, you haven’t tried cauliflower popcorn before. Savoury and tender and with the perfect amount of crispiness, you’ll be amazed at how well this unconventional snack goes over with your kids. Simply toss eight cups of fresh chopped cauliflower with 3 tbsp olive oil, ¼ cup grated parmesan, one tsp garlic powder, and ½ tsp each of turmeric and salt. Then, roast the coated cauliflower at 475 for 25 to 30 minutes until the florets are slightly brown and crispy. After a few tastes, this snack might become a household staple.
8. Salt and Vinegar Cucumber “Chips”
Potatoes might get most of the credit, but they are far from the only veggie that deserves the credit of being served as a crispy snack. All it takes to slow roast cucumber slices into a healthy chip-like treat is a dehydrator or your oven, and you’ll save your child from consuming all the fats and oils that come from frying standard chips. Best of all, these cucumber chips also qualify as a ketogenic snack.
You can make your own cucumber chips by slicing two or three cucumbers as thinly and evenly as you can (a professional slicer is ideal for this job) and dabbing out as much of their water content as you can with a paper towel. Then, toss the slices in a bowl with a tablespoon of olive oil, two teaspoons of apple cider vinegar, and a teaspoon of sea salt. If you have a dehydrator, you can place the slices on trays set at 130 degrees for about 12 hours, or until dried and crispy. Those using an oven can arrange them on a cookie sheet and dry them at 175 degrees for three to four hours. For best results, flip the slices halfway through to ensure they crisp up evenly.
Optimize Your Diet At The Dempster Clinic- Center for Functional Medicine
This article only taps into the advice I can offer families about how to improve and optimize their diets for better health. If you’re looking for more information about snack options to help your child make healthier choices, then I recommend booking an appointment with me at The Dempster Clinic- Center for Functional Medicine.
I am pleased to offer a Complimentary 15-minute Discovery Session for all potential patients. This session can take place over the phone or at the clinic in person. This session provides an opportunity for you to learn more about our services and how they can be of benefit to you!
Your best health awaits.
Dr. John Dempster