It’s snack time and the kids are all shouting at once. Jumping up and down, clinging to my legs. It’s so noisy my brain has stopped functioning. I automatically reach for a packet of biscuits. A packet of shop bought, easy to open biscuits that will restore a modicum of calm to my hectic, kid-ruled day.
It is an undeniable fact that children need to eat. They need 3 healthy meals and they also need snacks in between those meals. A hungry child is usually a grumpy child. It’s so easy to fall into the trap of giving your children “snack” food such as biscuits, cakes and things that come in packets. But when you know how, it’s really easy to give them quick healthy snacks that will tie them over to the next healthy meal.
Snacks as Little Meals
You know how you plan your meals in terms of food groups? Half the plate should be fruit or vegetables (thinking of the whole meal) with a bit of carbohydrate and a bit of protein. (Check out what a healthy diet for kids is if you’re not sure.)
You can do the same with snacks. You don’t have to be really vigorous about it. Kids can be sporadic in their eating and may well eat lots of carbohydrate one meal and lots of protein the next. That is fine as long as it balances out. You don’t want them JUST eating lots of carbohydrates and never touching fruit and vegetables.
With snacks, most people turn to carbohydrates (in the form of biscuits, cake or potato chips). Add some fruit and vegetables or fat and protein and suddenly your snack is WAY more healthy.
A little bit of Fat can help you Feel Full
A little bit of fat is a great way of keeping your child’s tummy feeling full up.
One of my favourite snacks is full fat greek yoghurt with fruit (either cooked or fresh). I only give them half a pot of yoghurt each as a whole one is a big portion for a little person (although they would happily eat a whole pot if I offered it first.)
They are allowed seconds if they want it, but normally one bowl is enough.
Healthy Snack Staples for Kids
I always stock fresh fruit, dried fruit and plain yoghurt in the house. I often have some cooked fruit stored in the fridge. (It takes a few minutes to prepare and will keep for a few days.) That way, I can reach into the cupboard (or fridge) without thinking too much and come up with a combination of snacks so that every day is slightly different but easy for me.
Some Quick Healthy Snacks Your Kids Will Love
These snacks only take a few minutes to prepare.
- Yoghurt and fruit
- Yoghurt with dried fruit and nuts
- Peanut butter and fruit
- Toast and peanut butter with fruit
- Banana on toast (or banana and chocolate spread on toast)
- Toast with chocolate spread and fruit
- Cream cheese on toast with grapes
- Hummus (a great source of protein) with vegetable sticks. You can use shop bought hummus or if you have chick peas, it’s really easy to make. 2 minutes max.
- Dried fruit and nuts (my kids love this and the nuts are a great source of healthy fats that keep your tummy feeling full).
- Pop corn. If you make it yourself and don’t add sugar or salt, pop corn is actually quite healthy. It’s high in fibre and low in calories, although not recommend for under 4s by the American Association of Pediatrics as it is a choking hazard.
- Eggs (I keep cold boiled eggs in the fridge)
Have you noticed how they nearly all have fruit or vegetables in them? Even if you do reach for that packet of shop bought biscuits, you can easily make it healthier by adding some cut up fruit.
Fruit and Veggies that makes great Snacks for Toddlers and Kids
- Watermelon and other melons
- Grapes (if you have young kids remember to cut them in half as they're a choking hazard)
- Cherries (also a choking hazard for young kids)
- Veggie sticks, celery, carrot, cucumber, peppers
- Peas (my kids prefer them fresh or straight out of the freezer.)
Choking Hazards for Young Kids
Children under the age of 5 have small wind pipes, just the right size for small objects such as grapes and cherry tomatoes to get stuck in. Make sure you cut up things that are that shape (grapes, cherry tomatoes, cherries). Whole nuts are also a choking hazard. As long as your child isn't allergic to nuts, they can have chopped up unsalted nuts.
Easy Healthy Snacks that need preparing
These are our favourite snacks that we like to make together. They are our healthy treats. We don’t have cake and homemade biscuits every day as cooking does take time. Normally we cook some healthy snacks at the weekend and make it a fun activity to do with kids. (Even quicker if you do them without kids!)
- Coconut cookies
- Banana and oat cookies (only 2 ingredients with no added sugar so great for children under 1 who aren’t supposed to eat refined sugar)
- Healthy brownies These are really easy and have dried figs in them. Apparently my children don’t like figs but they do like these brownies, even though they know they have figs in them.
- Drop scones these are a family favourite on a cold autumn day.
- Apple Spice Nut Bars think of these as super awesome flap jacks.
- Oatmeal Raisin Cookies are super delicious. A great treat and still more healthy than shop bought cookies.
- Apple Muffins my 7 year old son recently discovered how to make muffins. They are so easy. I never knew. Now we make them frequently.
It’s snack time and the kids are all shouting at once. I usher them into the kitchen where there are four bowls of apple and yoghurt snack that took me 2 minutes to prepare. The four of them jump into their seats and gobble up their “desserts”. (What is “dessert” to them is quick healthy snack for me.) Peace is restored (for all of 5 minutes) without opening a packet of biscuits or cookies.
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In the pin you can see (working clockwise from the top left image) yoghurt and fruit, melon, avocado and mango, banana bread, apple and yoghurt (with some vanilla), cooked apples, vegetables to go with hummus (carrots, cherry tomato, sweet corn and lettuce), unsalted almonds.