5 Healthy Snacks Kids Can Make for Themselves
Whether your kids are already back in school or you’re just starting to think about returning to the classroom, snacks are likely top of mind. We want our kids eating something healthy and nourishing; they want something tasty and fun. Of course, there are snacks that cover both — now, wouldn’t it also be amazing if the snacks could make themselves? We’re not quite there yet, but the next best thing is snacks kids can make (or assemble) for themselves, safely and without too much of a mess.
We consulted with Dana Bowen, co-founder of The Dynamite Shop, an online interactive cooking school for kids, for advice and ideas.
How to Prepare for Back-to-Snack Season
1. Stock up on healthy building blocks.
“First of all, stock the pantry and fridge with healthy building blocks for snacks,” Bowen says. “If you have things like chips and cookies around, they’re going to reach for that. But instead, if you have things like granola, maybe even granola they made themselves, and if there’s yogurt, and fresh berries, they can put together something like a parfait. If you’re steering them toward healthy ingredients, then you know you can feel good about what they’re building.”
2. Game-ify it.
“Kids love a challenge to be creative with what they’re making,” says Bowen. “Using games where they can showcase their creativity is a great way to engage them. Plus, making it fun is a big step toward getting kids not only to do more for themselves around snacking, but also to foster an enjoyment of cooking and healthy eating.
3. Choose age-appropriate snacks and tasks.
Younger kids can assemble a snack from simple ingredients, and older ones can use those same ingredients and take it a step further. A 5-year-old might make a parfait from granola, yogurt and fruit. A tween or teenager might make the granola from scratch over the weekend, and could take the fruit and make a compote from it, Bowen suggests.
With younger kids, challenge them to use foods with certain colors, or with as many colors as possible, for example; with older kids, there are tons of opportunities for cooking lessons. Take that compote, for example. “Kids can learn about macerating fruit, or using a little cornstarch for a thickener, or trying out different spices.”
“Then, challenge them around how they can use that compote,” Bowen says. “In their parfait, sure, but also, maybe they can mix it into their oatmeal. Challenge them to figure out where else they can use it.”
5 Healthy Snacks Kids Can Make Themselves
Here are some healthy snack ideas that kids can make themselves, and some components you can help them make that will leave them with easy assembly.
1. Fruit and Yogurt Parfait from Ahead of Thyme
Make this recipe as written, or use it as a jumping-off point to for your own (or your kids’) ideas. Change up the fruit based on their tastes and the season and DIY the granola, or choose a low-sugar one from the supermarket.
2. Quesadillas in the Microwave from Steamy Kitchen
Using a microwave instead of the stove makes these accessible to younger kids. These can be as simple as sprinkling shredded cheese between tortillas and cooking in the microwave, or as complex as an older kid might want, including using up leftover cooked chicken or ground beef, and/or vegetables you have in the fridge. Kids can eat the quesadillas plain, or topped with salsa and/or guacamole, and again these can be homemade or store-bought.
Pro tip: Start with whole-grain tortillas to up the healthy factor.
3. Healthy Apple Nachos from Simple Veganista
Drizzle sliced apples with nut butter (or tahini or sunflower seed butter, to avoid nuts), sprinkle with cinnamon, and your kids are on their way to an easy, delicious, filling snack. They can add other toppings, like granola, shredded unsweetened coconut, a few mini chocolate chips, dried cranberries, or anything else you have on hand. Challenge them to come up with the most creative toppings they can find, or to make their nachos the most beautiful (or the messiest).
Pro tip: For kids too young to slice apples, buy the pre-sliced ones packaged with lemon juice.
4. Mini Pepper Pizzas from Delish
They get pizza, you get them to eat a vegetable–everybody wins. You can bake them in a toaster oven, if that’s easier for younger kids. Pepperoni is a crowd-pleasing topping, but you can leave it off, use pre-cooked sausage, or top with other vegetables, such as mushrooms, if your kids like them.
5. Chickpea Cookie Dough Dip from Chocolate Covered Katie
Make this with your kids on a Sunday (it takes 10 minutes), stick it in the fridge, and they can enjoy it all week after school. It’s got protein, fiber, and chocolate chips–all things that are important for a good snack. Kids can dip crackers or fruit into it, or lick some off a spoon, cookie dough style.
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