Amid the daily planning for breakfast, lunch and dinner, the humble snack is often overlooked. Though frequent snacking can interfere with appetites at mealtime, healthy, well-timed snacks can sustain kids’ energy, keep them alert and prevent overeating at meals.
Try to time your kids’ snacks a few hours after one meal ends and one to two hours before the next meal begins. Also, try to keep snacking in the kitchen so your kids focus on what they are eating, which can deter mindless snacking. When snack time strikes, here are 10 healthy ideas to keep on hand.
Skip the salt and butter on this popular snack and you’ve got a tasty whole grain, fiber-filled treat. To make things a little more interesting, try tossing in dried fruit and nuts or even nutritional yeast for extra protein and Vitamin B. Don’t have time to pop your own corn? Get some single-serving bags of Boom Chicka Pop for a grab-and-go option.
Beef jerky might be a kid favorite, but replace it with turkey for a leaner version (like
KRAVE Jerky) that tastes just as good and still hits the same protein level (about nine grams per serving).
Quick, easy and perennially popular, low-fat string cheese is a snack time standby. Each piece packs about 6 grams of protein and 20% of the daily recommendation in calcium. Pair it with finger-friendly produce like apples or carrots for a balanced bite that will leave your kids full.
This favorite breakfast food can double as a snack. Choose a cereal that’s low in sugar and has at least five grams of fiber per serving, such as Original Puffins cereal. Combine it with two tablespoons of dried fruit and chopped almonds for on-the-fly granola.
Nut Butter on Celery
For a perfect match of protein and veggies, spread peanut, almond or any other nut butter (see our Kid-Approved Peanut Butter Alternatives for more ideas) on celery. Sprinkle raisins or dried cranberries on top for a little something sweet.
Easy and quick, whole grain pita pockets offer an abundance of creative snack solutions. Fill them with hummus (rich in antioxidants, protein and fiber), and try a mix of vegetables such as sliced cucumbers, diced tomatoes and shredded carrots.
Fruit and Dip
Plate up sliced apples, pears and bananas, and serve with Greek yogurt in different flavors. Kids will enjoy the combination of choices while getting plenty of calcium, protein, vitamins and minerals.
Eggs are a great refrigerator staple—they’re versatile in the kitchen and easy on the wallet. Hardboiled eggs are a great part of a healthy breakfast, lunch or snack, being rich in 13 vitamins and minerals with 70 grams of protein. If your kid doesn’t enjoy hardboiled eggs on their own, try making a healthy egg salad to enjoy on multigrain crackers with sliced veggies.
There are endless options with edamame! Buy it frozen or fresh, shelled or in a pod and eat it at almost any time of day. These little green soy beans pack a punch with 9 grams of fiber, 11 grams of protein and 13 grams of carbohydrates in a half cup serving of shelled beans. They’re a great finger-friendly, after-school snack.
Avocados are nature’s butter, rich in heart healthy fats and fiber. Mash up an avocado with a bit of pepper and lemon juice before spreading on some whole grain toast. It’s a two-minute treat that you and your kiddo can enjoy together. For something a little fancier, try making avocado toast with feta and artichoke.
Need a go-to guide for snacks on-the-go? Check out our pediatric dietitian-approved, printable Shopping Guide for Healthy Kids Snacks. Keep it with you, and you’ll have one less thing to worry about.