7 Healthy Snacks for Back to School

Are your mornings a major headache as you wrestle backpacks, homework and stress about what kinds of nutritious snacks to make for your kids?

Well, stress no more!

Whether your kids are heading back to school or you’re heading back to work, these seven healthy snack ideas offer nutritional goodness for your babies’ growing brains and bodies.

These snacks will help keep hunger pains at bay, while also balancing their moods (and hormones, if your kids are old enough), and keeping their athletic and artistic minds in tip top shape.

So get prepared with this list, your favourite fruits and vegetables, and let’s start the fall season off right! Yea! Yea!

Okay, I sounded like a cheerleader just then (especially since I was hurrahing the air at the time), but nonetheless, here are a few of my favourite snacks to please everyone’s palates.

 

 

Snack #1: Sliced Vegetables with Bean Dip

Kids love to play with their food so dipping sliced vegetables in bean dip is a treat. Consider chickpeas for hummus and any other beans like black beans, kidney beans, adzuki beans, etc. Beans provide slow-burning complex carbs to maintain even insulin levels as well as vitamins, minerals, protein, fibre and antioxidants.

You can even turn this snack into a meal by spreading the bean dip on a whole-grain tortilla and wrapping the vegetables up inside. Or, instead of tortillas, try rice paper wrappers or even large kale or collard leaves (for adults only-—kids usually find these foods too bitter on their own).

 

Snack #2: Home-Popped Popcorn

I’m sure we can all agree that there is very little that’s wholesome about microwaveable popcorn. There is that chemical-laden bag to worry about, and then there are the enormous amounts of added salt, sugar and preservatives that processors add to keep these types of products “fresh” on the shelf. And don’t get me started on movie theatre popcorn!

But let’s not throw the baby out with the bath water, shall we? Popcorn itself is a whole grain that contains fibre and minerals like magnesium, phosphorus and potassium. That’s good stuff we can all agree on.

Lately I have enjoyed popcorn with cinnamon, smoked paprika and a bit of coconut oil, which is soooo good. Feel free to use any other spices your kids might enjoy.

I don’t normally like my food “fast and cheap”, but I’ll make an exception for popcorn, which it is when you make it at home with an air popper. You can pick up an air popping popcorn machine at a big box store for about $15 or $20. You can also pop popcorn in a heavy bottomed saucepan with a bit of oil, patience and a watchful eye.

 

Snack #3: Smoothies

For me, there’s nothing better than a smoothie on those busy mornings or afternoons when I’ve got too much to do and not nearly enough time to do it all. Smoothies are endlessly adaptable, easy to make by little hands and big ones, and have a well-deserved reputation for being nutrient-dense AND super tasty.

Cucumber mint smoothie

[Like this? It’s my Apple, Mint and Cucumber Smoothie. You can get the recipe in my free breakfast e-cookbook!]

A good but flexible guide for your smoothies is:

  • 1 part fruit (e.g. fresh or frozen bananas, berries, mangoes, avocados, etc.)
  • 2-3 parts liquid (water, almond, coconut or other milk, kefir, tea, juice, etc.)
  • 1 part protein (e.g. chia seed, hemp seed, sunflower or pumpkin seed, natural, unsweetened protein powder, etc.) to keep our energy levels even for hours and
  • ½ part greens (e.g. spinach hides easily in smoothies, you can’t even taste it!). For adults or anyone who likes to live like a cliff-walker when it comes to smoothies, kale, romaine, cucumber, parsley, celery, spirulina or beet greens if you’re feeling brave. This part is optional but highly recommended.

You can find dozens of recipes online, some of which might introduce you to fruits and vegetables you may not have considered adding to your smoothies.

Get your kids in the kitchen and show them how easy it is to make inspiring, tummy-filling smoothie creations and you’ll have given them a healthy habit they can take with them through all of life’s stages (from the playground to the dorm room to buying their first home!).

 

Snack #4: Whole Grain Muffins and Cookies

Whole grain and lightly sweetened muffins or cookies like these coconut and chocolate chip cookies are a great portable snack.

 

Snack #5: Unsweetened Applesauce with Cinnamon

Unsweetened applesauce sprinkled with cinnamon or nutmeg is a great source of fibre and ideal as a snack or sweet treat. Best of all, you can easily make your own applesauce and it tastes even better than store-bought!

Applesauce

Snack #6: Apple, Pear or Celery with Nut Butter

Always a standby for me, slices of an organic pear or apple spread with nut or seed butter is a great source of fibre, protein and antioxidants. Sunflower seed butter is often suitable for allergy restrictions in schools (but check with your school first). You can top celery sticks with seed or nut butter, add raisins and suddenly you have the old “ants on a log” some of us remember fondly from childhood.

You can even try this fun idea that I found and modified for us healthy whole foodies:

Apple cored with nut butter 2

 

It’s just a cored apple, sliced (but not quite to the bottom) that is filled with nut butter. I made this for an afternoon snack and even though it was messy, I had fun pulling the slices apart!

 

Snack #7: Homemade Trail Mix

Skip the stuff from the store, which can contain added oil, sugar, salt and preservatives, and mix your own by combining your kids’ favourite dried fruits and nuts together.

Add popped whole grains like popcorn, millet or amaranth (find them at the bulk store), shredded unsweetened coconut, and savoury or sweet spices.

I recommend portioning your homemade trail mix into appropriate serving sizes so kids can take it with them wherever they go—to school, to soccer, to the mall or movies. And you’ll know they have a healthy snack with them wherever they go!

How do you spend time prepping and preparing for the start of school?

Life is a plate… eat up!

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