Healthy Snacks for Kids by Kids

As most of the diseases humans of all ages suffer from are self-inflicted and many of them are “food – centered”, parents/caregivers and kids making lunches and snacks together is preventative medicine. Taking to time to make kids part of the food selection and preparation process early on means they learn what their bodies actually need to support healthy growth. 

Then and Now

Years ago when my friends commuted to work I became their kids’ after school caregiver. Through a succession of painful family events the kids I was caregiver for grew up but proved to be unable to parent their own children. My friends, who were looking forward to retirement in a few years from now ended up parenting their three granddaughters. The good news is I’m a temporary caregiver for three girls under ten years of age, who are filled with childlike wonder and wisdom. I’m teaching the girls how to make to make their own snacks and lunches and they are teaching me how to be forever four.

Kids are Quick Learners

No matter what their age kids feel a sense of accomplishment when they are participants in the lunch and snack making process. Crudites can be are a good starting point, as kids quickly learn how to portion out cut up fruits and vegetables in advance and package them into small serving bags kept in the fridge, ready to grab and go at a moment’s notice. Older kids can make their own make their soups, stews, granola and granola bars, trail mix and fruit leathers and a variety of other snacks.

Healthy Lunches and Snacks

There is evidence changing your diet can change your metabolism and brain chemistry, ultimately affecting your energy level and mood.  Research has shown antioxidant-rich whole food diets are the best choice we can make. — Re-energizing After a Lay-Off

Eating snacks a few hours after one meal ends and about one to two hours before the next meal begins is a sensible plan. Here are a few healthy snacking ideas borrowed from my kitchen and others:

  1. Ants on a log – Spread peanut butter on celery sticks and top with raisins.
  2. Pita and hummus – Pack low-fat hummus to fill small pita pockets with.
  3. Pita and Tabouleh – Combine chopped tomatoes, cucumbers, parsley, red onion, mint, olive oil and lemon juice with bulghur to fill pita pockets with.
  4. Trail mix – Combine 1 cup whole-grain toasted oat cereal with 1/4 cup chopped walnuts and 1/4 cup dried cranberries for a healthy trail mix.
  5. Whole Grain Cracker with Goat Cheese – Smear a large whole grain cracker with an ounce of goat cheese, as it tends to be lower in total and saturated fat than most cheeses.
  6. Hard-Boiled Eggs – Prepare and pack hard boiled eggs for a protein-rich, low-calorie snack.
  7. Cottage Cheese and Fruit – Fill a Bento style container box with a variety of veggies and fruits and low fat cottage cheese.
  8. Tuna Salad or Salmon Salad with Swiss cheese grapes, and apples – Fill Bento style a container box with these nutritional goodies.
  9. Smoked Turkey, carrot and apple slice wraps – Turn a standard sandwich into a wrap.
  10. Whole-wheat bagels with hummus and sliced cucumbers.
  11. 20 Easy Bento Lunch Boxes – Change things up but still incorporate favorite foods and healthy snacks.

Healthy After School and Weekend Lunches and Snacks

After school and on weekends try these healthy lunches and snacks ideas at home:

Mini pizzas – Spoon pizza sauce on half a bagel, English muffin, or mini pita. Top with low-fat mozzarella cheese and your favorite veggies and toast or bake until the cheese is melted and the bagel is crispy.

Banana ice – Peel several very ripe bananas, break them into 1-inch pieces, and freeze the pieces in a sealed plastic bag. Just before serving, whirl the pieces in the blender with a small amount of water or juice. Serve right away. Add berries for a different flavor or top with fruit or nuts.

Ice pops  – Freeze fresh, unsweetened 100% fruit juice in ice pop molds or ice cube trays.

32 Healthy Kids Snacks – Milk and cookies may be a classic, but these innovative after school snacks will put a new spin on snack time. Plus, get tips for feeding your picky eater.

Sandwich Recipes for Picky Eaters – Delicious, fast, and easy recipes from Jamie and Bobby Deen, sons of celebrity cook Paula Deen.

Teaching Healthy Eating Habits

Selecting healthy energizing snack foods and eating the correct amounts to restore your energy balance is a life preserving habit. Everyone ought to learn how to do that in childhood, but it’s never too late to learn how to snack right by energizing your body with real foods. — 7 Energizing Snack Foods for Optimum Health

Preparing healthy lunches and snacks together is an excellent way parents can share lessons with their kids that will last a lifetime. There are at least five reasons why packing your own lunches and snacks is good for you and your kids. Bringing your own packed lunches and snacks to school or work means you control what you and the kids eat. There’s not much choice in food types in vending machines or cafeterias, and having your own packed lunches and snacks means you can eliminate monotony by providing variety. Packing your own means you can plan a lunch and snacks that combine lean proteins with carbohydrates to provide lasting energy right up until supper time. Without doubt, packing healthy lunches and snacks is a money saver. Last but not least, snack and lunch making time with kids is an opportunity to visit with them and discover what’s going on their world.

Kids Learn by Doing

There is no substitute for the actual time parents/caregivers spend with kids and there never will be. It takes time to prepare kids well for living rest of their lives consciously. The time investment made is worth the effort, because the quality education their kids receive about the role of food in sustaining health will remain with them and will be passed on to their own children.

15 thoughts on “Healthy Snacks for Kids by Kids

  1. Lovely…and so important. I used to work with a dietician sometimes; she came into school with a rainbow of fruit and veg to show children things they might have not even seen before (let alone realise were available in the local shop) – cut them up, make smoothies, encourage kids to try a nibble of something new… Some children were actually scared at first – it was such alien foodstuff. (Scotland has terrible lifestyle-related health problems).

    The other thing I think works really well is to *grow* edible things with children. Of course it’s not within the reach of everyone to grow much, but I’ve found that even things that can be grown in jars and windowboxes (beansprouts, herbs) can make all the difference in a child being suddenly willing to eat, say, a salad or stir fry – because they grew/picked an ingredient in it. I only managed to sort a little patch of garden and start growing herbs again last summer, and our 14 year old *loves* going out to cut things like chives or parsley to use in something he’s cooking.

    Your snack suggestions are mouth-watering!

    • I’m so happy to hear your positive feedback on this post. Fortunately these little ones are willing to try just about any veggie or fruit. One, like me, is a nut lover. They other two are okay with seeds and nuts but not crazy about them as we are. One day I may d a post that’s on integrating seeds, spouts and nuts into your diet.

      You are so right about gardening. For many years I was an in ground hardener but I made the switch to container gardening and grow my own salad greens and herbs. Last year I went overboard with flowers. I may do that again because walking out onto the colorful setting my deck garden presented was such a thrill to the eyes and nose as well as to the palate.

      This year the girls will be taking part in my deck gardening. Once their cabin renovation is complete and they move here permanently they will be gardeners too. This fall I will take theme mushrooming and teach them how to harvest frugally without wiping out the mycelium layer that allows the growth of ever-larger stands of trees. And I will emphasize leaving spores behind as well as doing some spore prints with them.

      I’m a drug free person who is constantly keeping depression at bay. The smiles and laughter and creativity I share with these little ladies keeps me high on life.

      • Yes, little children laugh so much – it can be very uplifting.
        I’ll look forward to a post on seeds, sprouts on nuts – I’m gradually trying to improve our family diet and love tips from others!

  2. I just finished eat a slice of soy cheese…cheese in sticks, thin sheets, cubes for kids to eat. My sisters with children did stuff like: frozen banana pops: take out banana from peel and stick in popsicle form trays with stick. The bananas freeze well and taste yummy.

    Of course, given the type of cuisine I grew up on: cubes of raw tofu, sushi with veggie (or tuna/tin salmon), a little mound of rice with cooked veggie on side. For fun, prepare the food in bento like container for them.. I’m sure any kid wouldn’t turn down macaroni, perogies, etc. But then that’s not snacks. :)

    I must admit looking after nieces and nephews occasionally, I’m forgetting what I fed them….

    • All of what you mention goes over very well with these kids. They are having fun with coming up with new ideas and I’m cheering them on. They are drawing and painting pictures of their snacks and lunches. Maybe they will grow up to be artists who can cook.

  3. TT, what a wonderful treat for both you and the kids. They get to learn how to eat healthy, and you get to spend time with them. As Dostoyevsky said, “The soul is healed by being with children.”

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