Healthy, Delicious Snacks on the RunAug 21, 2022
by Shannon Martin MPH, RDN
We’re all excited for our kids to go back to school, and that means everyone is busy. So it’s easy to just fall back on snacks like chips and cookies as kids go from school to practices and other afterschool activities. You can give your kids healthy snacks, though.
A couple things to remember:
Plan ahead. Have the foods that you want your family to be eating available at your house. That means making a grocery list and getting those foods into your house. For families with working parents, it's a good idea to sit down on the weekends and plan ahead and know what you're going to eat for breakfast, lunch and dinner for the week ahead. And that also means making sure to grocery shop and plan for snacks, because we know when those kids come home from school, they're hungry.
Another thing that's very important would be to focus on unprocessed foods. Americans are not getting enough fiber, so we need to focus on foods that contain fiber, like fruits and vegetables, nuts and seeds, whole grains and starchy beans like pinto beans, black beans, edamame and lentils.
So how can you turn those into snacks?
- Have your snack be a piece of fruit with some nuts or with a nut butter, or if your child has a nut allergy, a seed butter like sun butter, which is sunflower seed butter.
- Have vegetables around. When they’re hungry is a great time to try to get a vegetable into your child if they're resistant. Have vegetables prepped and ready like baby carrots, cucumbers, tomatoes, raw pieces of broccoli, maybe colored bell peppers. Then something to dip it in, right?
- Hummus is a great answer because it’s made from garbanzo beans and that is another source of fiber. Another thing you can add to the veggies and hummus to make it a bigger snack would be some whole-grain pita, flatbread or crackers.
Here are other snack ideas:
It’s easy enough to buy frozen fruits, keep them available, stick them in your blender with whatever your milk preferences, whether that's a low-fat dairy choice or one of the many milk alternatives out there like oat, almond or soy milk. If you're using a milk alternative, look for an unsweetened version and try to keep that ingredient list short.
At my house, we like frozen bananas in our smoothie. They make a really creamy smoothie. When we have bananas that are going bad at our house, we peel them, break them into pieces and stick them in the freezer for when we want a smoothie.
Especially with some low-fat refried beans on top, are a great snack. For a pop of flavor, add some pico de gallo or salsa on top.
Consider baking that tortilla: You can make the tortilla crispy, like a chip, but without that extra added oil if you have an air fryer or even in an oven.
I love edamame as a portable snack idea, especially when you buy it in the pods. It's fun to pop the seeds out and eat them. And the nice thing about edamame is it’s a balanced food, with protein, fat, complex carbohydrates and fiber.
Making muffins with fruit and whole wheat flour is a healthy alternative to buying the muffins at the grocery store that have a lot of added sugars and are made with highly processed white flour.
I recommend when you make your dinner that you make more than you need and store it in the fridge and let it be lunch the next day, or let it be a snack the next day. That really makes life easy.
What about some breakfast foods for a snack?
- A slice of whole grain bread toasted with some peanut butter or with some avocado, You could even put tomato on it or slices of those beautiful colored bell peppers to add extra nutrient punch.
- How about a low-sugar cereal and low-fat milk or a milk alternative as a snack? Easy and fast.
- Some additional breakfast for snacks ideas: a whole-grain waffle or bagel can be filling snacks. Top the waffle with some fruit or applesauce. To the bagel you can add a real wholesome ingredient, like a nut butter, seed butter or hummus.
- You can either buy trail mix or create a trail mix, easy enough to do with whatever nuts your child might like, with their favorite dried fruits and then add some low-sugar cereals.
Whole-grain pretzels paired with some nut butter, seed butter or hummus.
That's a fan favorite! Usually I recommend that you pop your popcorn from a kernel and avoid the processing that's involved in the microwave popcorn. Popcorn is a whole grain and has fiber.
There’s a recurring theme here.
- Stick with unprocessed foods and try to get fiber from fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes, nuts and seeds.
- There are so many fast and delicious options that your family will enjoy on the go.
Shannon Martin is an RDN, MPH with more than two decades of experience in the field. She’s also the mother of three active teenage daughters, so she’s also an expert on having healthy snacks ready to keep her daughters fed and energized while on the go. Here she shares some tips for families as kids return to school.
Get the KidShape Toolbox Newsletter
Get healthy recipes and family wellness tools delivered to your inbox! Sign up today and we will send you the KidShape Toolbox packed with resources to help build a healthier family.
We hate SPAM. We will never sell your information, for any reason.