They’re staring at you with big, sad eyes looking like they’re starving and must have something to eat. No, this isn’t the scene from the local animal shelter. It’s your children mid-afternoon wanting a snack. So what do you feed them that will fuel their bodies and avoid the sugar crash an hour later? Here are some ideas for quick healthy snacks for your whole family.
I have a general template that I follow when putting snacks together. I try to include a carbohydrate, protein and fat in my girls’ snacks. The carb will provide energy and the fat and protein is more satiating and helps to maintain a more constant blood sugar. I also try to avoid highly processed food and excessive sugar (except the natural kind in fruit). In addition, the following snacks ideas are naturally gluten free, because we don’t eat gluten in our house due to some intolerances. But don’t worry, these quick healthy snacks aren’t like the cardboard crackers you might find in the gluten free aisle. They are made from real, whole food that tastes delicious! Plus, most of them can be prepared in five minutes or less, a must for busy moms.
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Quick healthy snacks for your family
- Apple slices and peanut butter/almond butter/sunbutter. Very basic, but a crowd pleaser. If you want to get fancy, you can core the apple and cut horizontal slices
and let your kids make a sandwich with the nut butter and the apple and maybe even add some fun toppings like raisins, sunflower seeds or chocolate chips.
- Cut veggies and your favorite dip or you can make a delicious homemade ranch dip– I know it can be difficult to get children to eat their veggies, but sometimes it can help to have a fun dip. My girls always eat more veggies when they have a dip they love. Plus, you can let your kids pick out their own veggies at the store or farmers market to try. If you’re really ambitious, you can plant a garden and let your kids plant a veggie or two to care for. My girls each get to pick a vegetable to grow in our garden. And veggies don’t have to be limited carrots and celery. Think asparagus, radishes, blanched green beans, etc. Or you can get really creative like this skeleton platter!
- Hard boiled eggs and berries– It’s time to stop the demonization of eggs. If you haven’t heard, it’s ok to eat the whole egg, including the yolk, as discussed here. My family goes through two to three dozen a week! Here is an article discussing the perfect technique to hard (or soft) boil an egg and avoid the dreaded green ring. I personally boil the water first and then put the eggs in. Or you could try steaming them. Eggs are a perfect affordable protein and fat source wrapped up in a neat little package. Plus, they can go with everything. And they can be dressed up like these fabulous crazy clown eggs! So what are you waiting for? Get crackin’!
- String cheese and cucumbers– What kid doesn’t like to pull apart string cheese? It’s a snack and entertainment all in one! And we all need to play with our food more.
- Beef stick/beef jerky with celery and carrots– Dried or cured meat is a favorite in my house. It’s portable and won’t perish, so we always take it for an on-the-go snack. Here are the beef sticks my family loves that can always be found in my purse. They taste great without being too spicy and don’t have any added sugar. Plus, my younger daughter keeps them in her locker at school as a snack.
- Smoothie– Who says smoothies are just for breakfast? Not me. They can be eaten any time of the day and can be personalized for each child. Not sure where to start? Try some milk (cow, almond, coconut) and fruit (preferably frozen). You can jazz it up with greens, protein powder, chia seeds, gut-healing gelatin, nut butter, spices, etc. Or you can follow some of these recipe ideas. Don’t have a blender? Here is a portable, inexpensive mini blender perfect for single serving smoothies that I love.
- Crackers, naturally cured pepperoni, cherry tomatoes– Homemade Lunchables anyone (without all of the scary ingredients)? I don’t like to buy frankenfood that has ingredients I can’t pronounce, so I avoid Lunchables like the plague (here is an example of their scary food labels). However, it’s super fast and easy to duplicate this fun idea with healthier ingredients. Here are our favorite gluten free crackers that actually taste good! For naturally cured meats, you should look for either celery salt or lactic acid starter culture in the ingredients, plus meat and spices, such as this pepperoni.
- Plain yogurt and fruit– I know kids like the fun packaging of those yogurt tubes, but they are full of added sugar and artificial colorings. It’s actually just as easy and a lot less expensive to buy some plain yogurt and add real fruit to it, such as raspberries and blueberries. Plus, they can mix and match their fruit and make it more colorful.
- Homemade trail mix– Perfect to take in the car on the way to practice. Just throw together some nuts, seeds, dried toasted coconut, dried fruit (cranberries, blueberries, raisins, apricots, apples, etc.) or whatever you feel like. Or you can buy a premade mix here.
- Sugar snap peas, red or purple grapes and salami– Kids like a lot of color right? So make their snack more attractive by using contrasting colors and mixing fruits and veggies. Plus, the salami will add some much needed protein to the mix. You can also substitute your favorite deli meat.
Hopefully, these ideas are sparking your creative juices for quick healthy snacks that can be prepared quickly. There is no right or wrong, as long as your children will eat it. You can even get them involved in picking out their own snacks. Maybe you can put a list of potential snack ideas on the frig and let them choose and have some control over their food. Of course, if you have more snack ideas, please leave them in the comments section below!