Ten Easy Go-To Whole Food Healthy Snacks for Kids (or Adults)
Nothing in life is certain but death, taxes, and that kids want snacks. So, so, so many snacks. I fought this pretty hard at first, wanting my kids to eat well at meals which I try to make healthy, spend time on, etc. But once I realized that I can give them snacks that are healthy but require literally no work? Yeah, they get a 3 p.m. snack now to help them along to dinner. And by no work I mean these are one-ingredient whole foods or off the shelf good-for-you items that my kids actually eat.
Which leads me to a disclaimer … nothing is guaranteed with toddlers. They will eat something one day, and the next week act like that food is some kind of parental torture device. That said, with these super easy snacks you’re not throwing away food because it is good for adults too. For real, if I buy Annie’s organic fruit gummies I’ll eat them before I’m even home from the store and then feel ill. And if I get started on goldfish crackers, it’s basically a meal replacement. So yeah, not having “kid food” around helps adults too.
Nuts are good for them, you literally dump them on a plate and they nibble at them, the end. Obviously they can be a choking hazard so this isn’t something you’d feed them in the car, or when they’re super little, but it’s such a great option otherwise. If you have a Trader Joe’s nearby you really win out, because their nuts are cheaper than anywhere else I’ve found. I do avoid almonds both because they are harder for my kids to chew and because of the negative environmental impacts.
- Dried fruit
Like the good little New Englanders they are, my kids will stuff their tiny faces with dried cranberries any day of the week. They will eat pretty much any dried fruit but bananas and apples, because they don’t like the texture. Again, Trader Joe’s is a winner here for inexpensive options and giant selection of dried fruit. One super nice thing about dried fruit is it keeps forever. And raisins count! Tons of fiber, toddler approved.
Cut one open, cube it, the end. Admittedly my son has never been able to stomach avocado, but my daughter wolfs it down. Good fats, fiber, and so easy. One thing I learned recently is that you’re supposed to wash the skin of the avocado before cutting into it to reduce salmonella risk. The more you know, I guess.
- Fresh fruit and berries
One way to find out if my kids are actually hungry or if they just want to see if I’ll give them crackers is that when they whine they’re hungry I offer them a banana or berries. If they eat it, yeah, they were legit hungry and have now had a healthy snack. If not – they were probably fishing for the big game – Goldfish crackers…
- Hard Boiled Eggs
I’m always looking for ways to use up our eggs, especially now that our seven remaining chickens are laying six eggs a day! I will hard boil a half dozen in advance and then when my kids are hungry or I need to pack an easy lunch, it’s peel and go (though I do sprinkle a little salt on these, since I myself won’t eat them without at least a little salt).
Okay, yes, technically fruit, but since this involves a little more prep it gets it’s own entry. We get a lot of apples in New England and I will make a huge batch of this for the kids. If I’m lazy I get packets that have no sugar added, though I feel totally guilty about the crazy amount of packaging. Applesauce is my daughter’s favorite food, for sure. I bribe her with it all the time – though of course I like to call it “positive reinforcement.”
Kids love pickles. Beware of sweet pickles – so much sugar!
I like to get whole milk Greek style yogurt. It lasts forever in the fridge and my kids don’t seem to notice it is unflavored/without sugar unless I ever (like literally ever) make the mistake of giving them a flavored yogurt. Then I hear about it for weeks until they finally run out of steam and go back to eating the good stuff. The flavored yogurts are packed with sugar, so beware.
One of the great mysteries of the world is why kids like everything better if they can dip it in a sauce. Hummus is my go-to. Sliced veggies they’re not eating? Then I reveal the tub of hummus like a magician pulling a rabbit out of a hat, plop some on the side and suddenly they’re dipping them in and munching them. No fresh veg? I’ll give them some crackers and hummus and they’re in hog heaven.
I started giving my kids olives early and they like them – mainly because they can stick them on their fingers and eat them off. Whatever – as long as they’re eating! I seriously dream of getting my daughter onto the growth charts, little peanut. We’ll do green, black, fancy-pants seasoned ones sometimes. If they’re pitted and can be stuck on fingers, they’ll like them.
And a bonus item …
I seriously don’t know what I’d do without cheese. That cheese exists is my main barrier to going vegan. Mozzarella, cheddar, whatever, my kids gobble it up. My son even likes blue cheese, which blows my mind because it is the one food I truly, truly cannot eat. Like if there’s a whiff of gorgonzola in a dressing I won’t even be able to eat around the edges. Yet my son will wolf it by the chunk. Different strokes! They used to eat both ricotta and cottage cheese but for the last six months have turned their little snoots up. One of the mysteries of childhood…