Healthy Snack Ideas
Children gain up to three times as much weight during the summer as they do during the entire school year. This was one of the findings in a 2015 study, focused on preventing childhood obesity, researched by the Active Living Research Group. The study went on to show that children’s eating habits during the summer, play a large role in this increase, as well as, a decrease in physical activity.
After reading this study, I was inspired to evaluate what I could do to help my children NOT become a number in this statistic. As I thought through potential dangers for my kids, in this area, the one big thing that came to mind was SNACKS.
Our food bill has always seen a significant spike during the summer months. Our kids are super active and spend a lot of time biking, swimming, running, and playing during the summer, but with all that activity comes a whole lot of snacking.
Snacks are often recommended to be used to help balance blood sugars between meals. I have personally seen them stave off a bad case of the “hangries”. A well placed snack can also help avoid overeating caused by waiting too long between meals. So my concern is not with the kids snacking, but on what they are snacking. In the past we have just gone to the cracker and cookie aisle at the market and grabbed those handy little snack packs that took no thought or effort. (How many of you are with me?) Not only do they add extra money to our food bill because we were paying the convenience fee, but there is also no nutritional value in those packs. None, nada, zippola! The other key thing with the pre-packed snacks was that they aren’t filling. One was never enough. A half an hour after eating, the kids were scrounging around looking for something else. So that’s not happening this summer.
I sat down with the kids and together we compiled a list of 20 healthy, Mom approved snack options that will be our go-to for this summer and beyond. We tried to think of snack options that would offer protein, fiber, help reach them reach their goal of 5 fruits and veggies for the day, and be tasty. All of the snacks are easy to pre-pack for snacking on the go or by the pool, which was a must for the kiddos.
So if you are looking for some healthy snack options for your family, here is our list.
- Fruit-Living on our kitchen table, year round, is a bowl with apples, bananas, and clementines. Requests for these snack options is always a Yes.
- Granola Trail Mix- This mix is an excellent source of fiber and the sweet and salty flavors combined, makes it the perfect snack. Check out our recipe here. We package the mix in snack pack bags. See the recipe Here.
- Cereal Snack Mix- Chex mix has been going strong for years because it is delicious. I still love this snack mix and especially love that Chex is gluten free! To make the mix, start by melting 4 Tbsp. Butter. To the melted butter add 1.5 Tbsp. Worcestershire sauce, 1 ½ tsp. season salt, ¾ tsp. garlic powder, and ½ tsp. onion powder. Stir together and set aside. In a separate microwavable bowl, mix together 6 cups Chex cereal, 1 cup mixed nuts, and 1 cup pretzels. Once your dry ingredients are mixed together, pour your wet ingredients over and stir to combine. Microwave on high for 5-6 minutes. (stop and stir every couple of minutes to prevent burning) Spread on paper towels to cool and then package up in snack pack bags.
- Dried Fruit
- Mixed Nuts
- Rice Cakes with Peanut Butter
- Applesauce Cups- Be sure to grab a low sugar brand.
- Cheese Slices
- Meat and Cheese Roll Ups- These make a great, quick protein boost. Take any flavor cheese sandwich slice you like, pick a deli meat, and start rolling. It is that easy. Make a bunch of these up and store them in a Ziploc bag for the week.
- Hard Boiled Eggs- Hard boiled eggs can be found in the refrigerator section of every market should you desire a no-prep option. If you’d like to try a no-boil option, grab a muffin tin, load up each cup with an egg, pour a little water in the bottom of the muffin cup to prevent scorching, and bake at 350° for 30 minutes. When done take eggs out of the muffin tin and plunge them in an ice bath to cool completely before peeling.
- Pre-Cut Veggies- The refrigerator could be fully stocked with veggies, but if they are not pre-prepped none of my family will reach for them. When you get home from the market, clean, and prep your veggies for the week.
- Hummus- If we have hummus in the house the kids will devour some veggies. To create easy snacking on the go, portion out your hummus into small, single-serve, plastic containers. The kids just need to grab a cup and some veggies and they are on their way. (We have a great hummus recipe here.)
- Frozen Yogurt Dippin Dots- Line a cookie sheet with wax or parchment paper. Fill a piping bag or a sandwich bag with your yogurt flavor of choice and snip the tip off the bag. Pipe out small dots of yogurt to cover your tray. Freeze for 6 hours or until firm set. Store dots in a freezer safe bag or container.
- Sweet–n-Sour Grapes- This snack is the perfect treat to replace candy. If your kids are scavenging for something to soothe their sweet tooth, push a bowl of these grapes their way. Clean and de-stem a bunch of green grapes, add them to a plastic bag. Pour 1 box of either lemon or lime Jell-O into the bag and shake to cover all the grapes. Scoop the grapes out and freeze for 4-6 hours. Store grapes in a freezer safe bag or container.
- Edamame- I know this seems like a stretch, but trust me these things are good. Extracting the soy bean from its pod is lots of fun for kids.
- Fruit smoothie Kits
- Chocolate Dipped Banana Slices- To replace popsicles and ice cream, make a batch of these! Start by lining a cookie sheet with parchment paper. Melt 24 oz. chocolate chips with 2 Tbsp. coconut oil. Slice bananas into 1-inch-thick rounds. Dip banana into the melted chocolate and top with sprinkles or roasted peanuts to make them a little extra special. Once you have all your banana slices dipped, place in the freezer. In an hour you will have an extra delicious sweet treat. Store slices in a freezer safe bag or container.
- Fresh Fruit Sorbet– Take 4 cups of frozen fruit that your child likes and place inside your food processor. To the fruit, add 4 Tbsp. honey, and 1 Tbsp. lemon juice. Process until smooth and creamy. Transfer to a freezer safe container for storage.
Whew! This list should keep us snacking smart all summer. The kids and I had a great time prepping these snacks and yours will too. Getting your kids involved in the planning and preparation of their food is the best way to instill healthy eating habits.