I don’t know about you, but by the time summer rolls around, I seem to run out of healthy snack ideas for my kids.
Every June, as the end of school draws near, I find myself repeatedly serving my trusty standby of carrot sticks and string cheese. Needless to say, after three weeks straight, my kids are burned-out when it comes to snack time, and are ready for some new options.
Snacks play an important role in boosting nutrition and managing kids’ hunger. A well-timed, healthy snack can provide a much-needed energy boost between meals and even out hunger spikes, especially during the summer when days are often spent on the move. When it comes to kids and healthy eating, my first rule of thumb is: Be creative. We all naturally “eat with our eyes” first and if the food looks appealing there’s a greater chance it will make it into little mouths — even vegetables.
With a little bit of planning and a trip to the Farmers’ Market to stock up on ingredients, here are some of my family’s favorite easy, appealing & healthy snack ideas that you can make this summer:
Yogurt Covered Raspberries – or blueberries or strawberries…you get the idea. All you need are fresh berries and vanilla flavored Greek yogurt. (Bonus: Greek yogurt adds protein!) Wash berries and let them dry completely. Place a sheet of wax paper on a cutting board or sheet pan that will fit in your freezer. Take a toothpick, dip raspberries in yogurt. Place on wax paper, and transport to freezer. Freeze completely. Enjoy!
Fruit kabobs – the fun is in the making of these treats. Simply chop up a bunch of fresh fruit and let the kids build them using bamboo skewers. They’ll love customizing their own kabobs!
Watermelon Pops – everything is more fun when it’s cut into shapes! Simply slice a watermelon and cut out fun shapes with assorted cookie cutters. The kids will love choosing their shapes. If you’re really feeling adventurous, insert a lollipop stick and call them Watermelon Pops.
Honey Sweetened Yogurt Popsicles – These are a huge hit in my house! Simply toss 1 cup Greek yogurt, 1/4 cup raw honey, 1 pound of fresh fruit (peaches, berries, etc.), and 1 tablespoon vanilla extract (optional) into a food processor or blender. Puree it until it’s nice and smooth. Then, pour the mixture into some popsicle molds and freeze for 2-4 hours, or until completely solid. (I love that every single ingredient for these can be found locally at the Farmers’ Market!)
Snack Sticks – Think long and skinny, and you’ve got the right idea for this snack. Start with healthy ingredients like carrots, celery, cheese, apples, pretzel sticks, etc. Cut them up in sticks, and let the fun begin! Add a side of peanut butter or ranch dressing for dipping and voila’!
Frozen Bananas (or ice cream?!) – These are a hot item at my house. When they are too ripe to eat, slice them up and freeze them for smoothies. I soon noticed eager little hands were digging into the bag, and the perfect treat was born. If you are feeling extra ambitious, try pureeing them in your food processor to make banana “ice cream!”
Cracker Sandwiches – It might take a while for the kids to catch on that these are nothing more than regular sandwiches. The crackers, however, give them some fun crunch! Three ingredients are all you need: cheese, turkey (ham, roast beef, etc.) and whole wheat crackers. You could also add lettuce, spinach or other veggies too!
Homemade Protein Bars – but don’t call them that. Shhh! These bars taste like “no-bake” cookies and your kids will never know the difference. These are a great source of protein without any added sugar. SEE RECIPE BELOW.
HOMEMADE “NO-BAKE” PROTEIN BARS
PREP TIME: 5 mins
TOTAL TIME: 20 mins
INGREDIENTS: *available at the Farmers’ Market
2 1/2 cups peanut butter*
3 cups oatmeal
2 cups honey*
2 1/4 cups chocolate whey protein powder
1/4 cup wheat germ
1/4 cup almonds or pistachios; chopped
Optional Add-Ins: raisins or other dried fruit, mini-chocolate chips, or coconut flakes
Mix all ingredients together. (You might need to do the final mixing with your hands.)
Press into cookie sheet with a 1-inch lip.
Consistency will be similar to no-bake cookies.
Chill in refrigerator for about 15 mins.
Slice to serve. Enjoy!
NOTE: These can also be formed into individual balls instead.
Here’s to a summer of fun and healthy snacking! Enjoy!