Little feet storm the kitchen like clockwork every day between 3 and 4 p.m. Dinner is coming soon, but hungry bellies can’t wait. After a full day of playing and learning, they need a little something to hold them over. Especially if their day involved bouncing in their bounce house!
That might look like handing your child a piece of fruit. It might also look like reaching for the most convenient, minimal mess packaged snack: crackers, cookies, chips, granola bars, fruit snacks, and so many other options in dozens of variations. Some of these packaged options include more real, whole food ingredients than others.
The reality is snacks fall across the nutrition spectrum and we do our best as parents to encourage healthy relationships and habits with food. Sometimes the rush of to-do lists and activities makes that difficult.
We found a handful of fun and delicious snack ideas that take a little more time than opening a bag of Goldfish, but will delight your kids and nourish their bodies.
Snickerdoodle Energy Bites
This is an equally tasty spin on coming home to warm Snickerdoodle cookies, but no baking is required!
Depending on your pantry staples, this Snickerdoodle Energy Bites recipe might require you to buy some items that don’t normally make it onto your grocery list. However, you will easily use all of the dates, flaxseed, and coconut oil because you’ll undoubtedly make these healthy treats again and again.
The recipe calls for a food processor to combine the majority of the ingredients. Once the ingredients are thoroughly mixed, simply add in the binding ingredients–honey, water, and coconut oil–and shape into 1-inch balls.
Finally, roll in coconut sugar and cinnamon and enjoy eating them right way. You may also want to multiply the batch and store them in the fridge so you have plenty on hand for another snack sesh.
Animal Face Toast
There’s something about turning food time into craft time, and turning normal food into cute food, that makes littles more likely to eat nutritious food.
These adorable faces made on your family’s favorite sandwich bread include ingredients that may already be in your fridge. Even better, it’s likely your kids will eat all of them. Gather strawberries, bananas, blueberries, yogurt, peanut butter, nutella, and whipped cream, if you have it. Then get inspo from Weelicious’s face design ideas, from an owl with strawberry sliced feathers to a fox with a whipped cream and peanut butter spread combo.
Make sure to design on at least lightly toasted bread because some of these ingredients will make a normal slice of bread soggy.
Kids’ Snack Board
When “girl dinner” becomes “kids’ snack time” it looks a little something like this. Creating a charcuterie that appeases little taste buds makes the same old snacks look inviting and exciting. Your kids will love the variety, colors, and out-of-the-ordinary set up.
Don’t have a fancy board for charcuterie? No need. Your kids don’t care anyway. Use a cutting board if you want it to feel a little more fun. Don’t overthink it, though, a plate works just as well. If you have time, get your kids involved in arranging the snacks on the board.
Try to include one or two vegetables, fruits, and grains. Here are some of 3 Boys and a Dog’s ideas:
- Mini shaped PB & J sandwiches
- Carrots and celery with ranch dip
- Goldfish, mini pretzels, and bunny graham crackers
- Strawberries, blueberries, and apple slices
- Cheese cubes
Whatever your kids don’t eat, put it away in sandwich bags to easily take out and assemble for a snackboard another day. Of course, modify your snack board to consider any food allergies or intolerances.
You’ve sliced hundreds of apples since you took on the “mom” role, and you likely still have hundreds to go. Do yourself a favor and get a good apple slicer if you don’t already have one. Then, take apples and peanut butter to the next level with The Simple Veganista’s take on nachos.
All you need are 1-2 apples of your favorite variety. We love the tartness of green apples with these ingredients or the always sweet and crispy Fuji. After slicing your apples, toss them in lemon juice to preserve them while they’re sitting out.
To create your apple nachos, first, fan your apples out on a plate and then layer more slices on top. Drizzle the entire stack with your favorite nut butter. You’ll need to warm the nut butter up first so it’s a runny consistency. Then, add mini semisweet chocolate chips, shredded coconut, and cinnamon. If your kids like sliced almonds, sprinkle a few of them on, too!
Air Fryer Sweet Potato Fries
Air fryers are all the rage–and for good reason. When you’re craving that warm, crispy texture only a deep fryer can achieve, an air fryer comes to the rescue.
Saved this sweet potato fry recipe for a day that’s a little more relaxed because it does take 15 minutes to achieve crispy perfection. Plan for an additional 45 minutes if you plan to peel and slice your own sweet potato wedges as they need to soak for 30 minutes before air frying.
To save on time, keep a bag of frozen, pre-cut sweet potato fries on hand to throw in.
When they’re out of the air fryer, season to your kids’ taste. The recipe recommends salt, black pepper, and paprika, but feel free to simplify to salt to meet your kids preferences. Then let them cool down for a few minutes before serving with ketchup. Your kids will love the sweet, salty, crispy combo. And, of course, they’ll love dipping on repeat.
Make Afternoon Snacks Fast, Fun & Nutritious
It really is possible to have it all when you’re feeding littles. Sometimes, it just takes a little extra creativity and initiative. If you’re dealing with picky eaters, keep trying new ways to introduce foods to them!
Keep a list of healthy, easy snack options close and put it on rotation. In the end, it’s all about helping your kids live their best lives, which means more mental and physical energy and fewer illnesses. The more nutritious the food they consume, the more likely it is you’ll help them live vibrantly.