Snacking is an important part of nutrition for our kids. Most kids don’t get enough nutrition in their “three square meals” per day, and need snacks before or after activities and often in the late afternoon, to keep their minds and bodies healthy and alert.
As opposed to 20 years ago, kids today twice as much popcorn, crackers, pretzels and corn chips as they did back then according to a U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) survey of nearly 10,000 children. Unfortunately, soda consumption has increased 37 percent for six- to nine-year-olds during the same time period. Many of these snack foods amount to not much more than empty calories, and can leave your kids short on important nutrients like Vitamin B6, zinc, and iron.
I grew up in the 70’s and 80’s, with a mom who was a nurse-advocate for the developmentally disabled, and was a health guru in her own right and never allowed us to snack on junk food. We didn’t have boxes of Twinkies and Hostess cupcakes and boxes of Fruity Pebbles cereal like many of my friends did. My grandparents lived with us for many years, and their Italian cultural background was one in which foods were prepared fresh and from only whole food ingredients. I never even tasted tomato sauce out of a jar until I was in college. Never ate lentil soup from a can until law school. Fresh vegetables were always on the menu, and our foods were mostly homemade and fresh.
I say mostly because she did whip out a pack of taco mix from time to time, a box of Rice-A-Roni (I can’t believe I ever ate that stuff!) and we did order pizza takeout and Chinese on occasion. My dad was the un-official sponsor of Girl Scouts of America with the level of cookie buying he would do every year (inherited my sweet tooth from him). When it came to his favorite cookies, my dad would buy enough to last for months. At one point I thought that the purpose of a home freezer was for Thin Mints! (not kidding)
So, needless to say, the picture was far from perfect. But, I am grateful for the fresh, whole food meals, the lack of sugary breakfast cereals and the inclusion of lots of fresh veggies.
With my own kids, I focus on only having healthy snacks in the house, always keeping tons of fresh fruit and cut up veggies around, and making 100% sure that they understand why hydrogenated oils, chemicals and dyes are so bad. We are fortunate in that we homeschool, and our home is often the “play house” for all the neighborhood kids. So, we are often the provider of snacks, and don’t have to worry too much about outside influences. And, when they make an unhealthy choice at a friend’s house, like a cupcake made from a box mix or a candy bar, they come home and always talk to me about it. And we move on. I don’t want to create an environment where they are not empowered to make their own decisions. I’ve seen the results of a “too rigid” food rules home, and it produces results that are not so good in my opinion.
So, to help you help your children make healthy choices, I have provided this list of 25 healthy plant food snacks you can have available to encourage nutritious snacking. I hope it helps your family!
- Sliced raw carrots and cucumbers served with plain (unsweetened) coconut yogurt flavored with dill
- Sliced rounds of cooked sweet potato, topped with a little cashew creme, maple syrup or cinnamon and salt.
- Banana bites with nut butter
- Fresh fruits, particularly berries washed and ready to eat in a colander in the refrigerator
- Dried fruits
- Homemade trail mixes
- Homemade Applesauce ready to go in small serving containers
- Fruit smoothies, pre-made and frozen into muffin cups so they can be quickly blended with a small amount of water or nut milk
- My low fat gluten free chocolate chip muffins! (recipe on Pinterest at LianaShanti)
- My Fig Date bars! (recipe on Pinterest at LianaShanti)
- Fresh organic edamame
- Maple roasted chickpeas
- Chia pudding (just mix 2 tbsp chia seeds with 1/2 cup almond milk, some maple syrup, vanilla and fruit if desired!)
- Raw chocolate pudding (avocado, cacao, dates, vanilla, recipe on Pinterest at LianaShanti)
- Fruit popsicles (recipe on Pinterest at LianaShanti)
- Dates stuffed with almond butter and coconut
- My raw carrot cake cookies (recipe on Pinterest at LianaShanti)
- Raw crackers with white bean hummus
- Apples dipped in chocolate chickpea hummus
- Beet and Zucchini chips (recipe on Pinterest at LianaShanti)
- Frozen grapes
- My frozen chocolate pudding pops (recipe on Pinterest at LianaShanti)
- Homemade fruit leathers (or 100% organic store bought ones)
- Organic gluten free bread with avocado spread
- Cherry tomatoes drizzled with hemp oil and Himalayan salt