Healthy meals are critical to kids getting the fuel and nutrition their bodies need, but healthy snacks between meals can help stave off hunger attacks and cranky moments. Puberty is an especially important time in a kid’s growth cycle, typically happening for girls between ages 8-13 and boys at ages 10-16. Giving kids good snacks keeps their energy levels up and their blood sugar stable. Plus, like adults, kids will eat more healthily at the main meals if they’re not ravenous. These 10 healthy snacks are perfect for kids that are constantly on the move. Between sports practice, school, and social activities, these “grab and go options” are real foods with quick fuel.
1. Pumpkin Seeds
Pumpkin seeds are a quick and easy source of healthy fats and proteins. As a bonus, they’re a versatile snack and add crunch to any dish. You can sprinkle these delightful “pepitas” on top of a salad or into a trail mix. You can also bake them in chili powder and lime to give them a zesty kick.
2. Trail Mix
Trail mix doesn’t have to be full of artificial crackers and chocolate, though many modern incarnations are. Try making dried apple slices and add them to a mix of peanuts, almonds, pecans, and cashews. A nut mix with some natural sugar from fruit provides a great supply of protein, healthy fats, and fiber.
3. Blood oranges
Blood oranges are a colorful snack, easy to take on the go and provide a ton of Vitamin C. Be the coolest parent at the sports event and up the game with blood orange wedges instead of bringing the traditional orange kind.
4. Raw bars
Raw bars are usually a mix of seeds, nuts, and other natural goodness. Two of the best kinds are Live Raw and Two Moms in the Raw (which are quickly occupying more space in grocery stores everywhere). Their lines include fun flavors for kids and adults alike.
5. Cut veggies with hummus
Hummus is great for so many reasons. It’s easy to transport, it’s full of protein, and it adds smooth, creamy goodness to any cracker, veggie, or sandwich. Slice up some cucumber, carrots, and snap peas to throw in a plastic bag, and put two generous dollops of hummus into a small Tupperware container. You can also do a healthier version of “ants on a log,” adding raisins and hummus to the crevice of celery instead of peanut butter and chocolate chips.
6. Kale chips
Kale chips are crunchy, crazy healthy snacks. They’re easy to make at home, too—there’s no need to run out and buy the kale chips that are now selling for almost $10 a bag. Remove the leaves from the stems of a large head of kale, then massage olive oil over the kale (substituting avocado or hazelnut oil if you feel like getting a little crazier). Add some pink Himalayan salt. Many store-bought brands of kale chips also include nutritional yeast to boost the protein content, and you can easily do this yourself. Meanwhile, you can add apple cider vinegar or lemon juice to help increase crunch.
7. Edamame shells/soybeans
Edamame doesn’t have to wait for a sushi night. These little greens guys of powerfully nutritious pods. They have lots of protein per serving, and they’re often used by vegans and vegetarians as a way to get essential vitamins. To save time, buy the kinds that have already been removed from the shell, and choose a low sodium option if one is available.
Grapes are a great, colorful snack, and they’re easy for little ones to eat. Keep them on the stem and pop a hefty bundle into a plastic bag to go. Grapes have antioxidants, and many studies have also linked them to other positive health benefits, like reduced LDL cholesterol and increased brain health.
9. Almond butter lollipop
Almond butter is a heart-healthy, fat-healthy, and fibrous source of nutrition. You can easily make your own almond butter with a good blender, but if you’re looking for some at the store, try buying individual mini packets in bulk to save money. To help with portion control, and to make a fun treat for your kids, try making almond butter lollipops. Dip a spoon into a jar of almond butter, put the almond butter-covered spoon into the freezer for a few minutes, and then add a slice of banana or a drizzle of honey on top. Kids can lick the spoon as they watch TV or read.
10. Tuna-Cado salad
Tuna salad is a classic kitchen favorite, yet it is often made with unhealthy ingredients. To preserve the nutritional value of tuna (which is full of protein), pair it with avocado for a creamy blend. Take one avocado, then add tuna, add chopped celery and diced onion for some texture. You can put this mix in Tupperware to eat alone, or you can use it as a dip or spread for whole wheat pita slices.