Quarantine: 28 Healthy Snacks For Your Kids
As we slog through another week of self-isolation, quarantine or even total lockdown, parents stuck at home with young children are grappling with how to keep everyone well-fed … meal after meal, snack after snack, day after day.
However, many packaged snacks for kids are extremely unhealthy. They’re often full of refined flour, added sugars, and artificial ingredients.
Snack time is a great opportunity to sneak some extra nutrients into your child’s diet.
Instead of highly processed snack foods, fill your child’s tummy with whole foods that will provide energy and nutrition.
Here is a list of kid-friendly snacks that are both healthy and delicious.
Yogurt is an excellent snack for kids because it’s a good source of protein and calcium. Calcium is especially important for kids’ developing bones.
Some yogurts also contain live bacteria, which benefit the digestive system.
Most yogurts marketed to kids are high in sugar. Instead, choose plain, full-fat yogurt and sweeten it with fresh fruit or a drizzle of honey.
Still, make sure not to give honey to infants under 12 months old, as they’re at a greater risk of a serious infection called botulism.
You may consider popcorn a junk food, but it’s really a nutritious whole grain.
As long as you don’t drown it in unhealthy toppings, popcorn can be a healthy snack for kids. Air-pop your own popcorn, drizzle it with a little butter, and sprinkle some grated Parmesan cheese on top.
However, use caution when offering popcorn to younger children, as it can be a choking hazard.
3. Celery with peanut butter and raisins
Celery with peanut butter and raisins, sometimes called “ants on a log,” is a fun way to get your child to eat a vegetable.
Cut a stalk of celery into three or four pieces, spread peanut butter inside the celery, and arrange a few raisins on top of the peanut butter.
These three foods combined provide a good balance of carbs, protein, and fat.
Just be sure to buy peanut butter without added sugar or vegetable oils.
Nuts are high in healthy fats, along with fiber and antioxidants. Dietary fat is important for supporting growth in children.
Doctors used to recommend withholding nuts from children due to the risk of an allergic reaction, but more recent evidence suggests that introducing nuts at an early age lowers this risk.
Nevertheless, nuts can be a choking hazard, so make sure your child is able to handle the texture before giving nuts as a snack.
5. Trail mix
As long as your child is not allergic to nuts, trail mix is a healthy snack for kids to eat on the go.
Most commercial trail mixes contain chocolate candies, which are high in sugar, but you can easily make your own at home.
For a healthier version, mix nuts, dried fruit, and a whole-grain cereal.
6. Sliced pears with ricotta cheese
Pears are a sweet treat and easy for a little one to eat when they’re cut into slices. Pears are high in fiber and beneficial plant compounds.
Spread each slice with ricotta cheese to add a yummy source of protein and calcium to your child’s snack.
7. Cottage cheese
Cottage cheese is a fresh and creamy cheese that’s soft enough for even infants to eat.
It’s rich in protein and a good source of selenium, vitamin B12, and calcium. Vitamin B12 is important for proper growth and brain development in children.
You can serve cottage cheese by itself, top it with fresh or dried fruit, or use it as a creamy spread on whole-wheat toast.
Oatmeal is a healthy breakfast for kids but also makes a great snack.
Oats are high in soluble fiber, which increases the number of beneficial bacteria in the digestive tract, along with other health benefits.
Skip flavored packets, which are high in sugar, and make your oatmeal with whole, rolled oats. Add about 1/8 teaspoon of cinnamon and some diced apples for sweetness.
If you make the oatmeal with milk instead of water, it will add some additional protein and calcium.
9. A piece of cheese
Cheese is mostly made up of protein and fat and is a good source of calcium.
Studies show that eating cheese and other dairy products is linked to better overall diet quality.
Full-fat dairy foods significantly contribute to a child’s nutritional requirements for calcium, magnesium, and vitamins A and D.
Cheese provides children with high-quality protein, which is needed for proper growth. Protein will also help them feel full between meals.
What’s more, some studies note that children who eat cheese are less likely to get cavities.
10. Veggie pita pocket
Some parents think it’s hard to get their kids to eat vegetables. But if you make it fun for them, they’re more likely to try the veggies.
Spread some hummus in a whole-wheat pita pocket and slice up raw veggies, such as carrots, cucumbers, lettuce, and bell peppers. Let your child pick a few veggies and fill the pita.
Veggies are loaded with important vitamins and minerals, and many kids don’t eat enough of them.
11. Fruit smoothie
A fruit smoothie is a good way to pack a lot of nutrients into a small snack.
You can also add veggies to a smoothie. With the sweetness of the fruit, your kid may not even realize they’re in there.
Use whole, fresh ingredients and avoid fruit juice, which is high in sugar.
There are countless combinations you can try, but here is one smoothie recipe to get you started:
Ingredients for 4 servings:
2 cups (60 grams) of fresh spinach
2 cups (300 grams) of frozen berries
1 cup (240 ml) of plain yogurt
1 cup (240 ml) of whole milk or almond milk
1 tablespoon (20 grams) of honey
Add all ingredients to a blender and blend until smooth.
12. Hard-boiled eggs
Keep hard-boiled eggs in the refrigerator for a quick, high-protein treat.
Eggs are highly nutritious and an excellent snack for kids. They provide high-quality protein and several vitamins and minerals, including vitamin B12, riboflavin, and selenium.
They also contain lutein and zeaxanthin, two carotenoids that are beneficial for eye health.
Furthermore, they’re one of the best food sources of choline, a vitamin that’s necessary for proper brain development.
13. Banana oat cookies
Homemade banana cookies are a healthy snack for kids that tastes like a treat.
These cookies get their sweetness from mashed bananas rather than refined sugar.
Refined sugars are associated with health problems in children, such as an increased risk of heart disease, childhood obesity, and type 2 diabetes.
Banana oat cookies
3 ripe bananas, mashed
1/3 cup (80 ml) of coconut oil
2 cups (160 grams) of rolled oats
1/2 cup (80–90 grams) of mini chocolate chips or dried fruit
1 teaspoon (5 ml) of vanilla
Mix all ingredients in a bowl. Place spoonfuls of the cookie mixture onto a greased cookie sheet and bake for 15–20 minutes at 350°F (175°C).
14. Raisin snack packs
Raisins are dried grapes. They have nearly all of the nutrients found in fresh grapes — but in a smaller package.
Raisins contain a decent amount of iron, a nutrient that many children don’t get enough of, and which is needed to transport oxygen throughout your body.
Moreover, raisins pack plant compounds, including oleanolic acid, which may protect your child’s teeth from cavities by preventing bacteria from adhering to them.
Raisin snack packs are an easy grab-and-go snack that’s much healthier than most convenience foods.
15. Turkey and avocado roll-up
A turkey and avocado roll-up is an easy-to-eat, healthy snack.
Turkey is a good source of protein, which is responsible for building and repairing tissues in your body. It’s also very filling, which can help kids feel satisfied between meals.
Avocados are full of heart-healthy fats, along with fiber, folate, pantothenic acid, potassium, several antioxidants, and vitamins C and K.
To make a turkey and avocado roll-up, first peel and slice an avocado. Gently toss the slices in lime juice to prevent browning. Wrap one piece of turkey around each avocado slice.
16. Baked sweet potato fries
Sweet potatoes are one of the richest sources of beta-carotene, a nutrient that can be converted into vitamin A by your body. It contributes to healthy eyes and skin.
Homemade, baked sweet potato fries are a nutritious alternative to french fries.
Sweet potato fries
1 fresh sweet potato
1 teaspoon (5 ml) of olive oil
Peel and slice the sweet potato. Toss the potato in olive oil and sprinkle it with sea salt. Bake on a cookie sheet at 425°F (220°C) for 20 minutes.
Pickles are cucumbers that have been fermented in salt and water.
They’re a good source of vitamin K, and some products also contain probiotic bacteria, which are good for the digestive system.
Pickles that contain vinegar don’t contain probiotics, so look in the refrigerated section of the grocery store for pickles with live cultures.
Avoid sweet pickles, which are high in added sugars.
18. Kale chips
Kale is considered a superfood, as it’s packed with nutrients but low in calories. In fact, children can get all the vitamin A, C, and K they need in a day in just 1 cup (65 grams) of kale.
Though most kids won’t jump at the chance to eat this leafy green raw, kale chips are a tasty snack that might change your child’s mind.
1 small bunch of kale
1 tablespoon (15 ml) of olive oil
1 teaspoon of garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon of salt
Tear the kale into pieces, then wash and thoroughly dry it. Toss it in the olive oil and seasonings. Spread it out on a cookie sheet and bake it at 350°F (175°C) for 10–12 minutes. Watch the oven carefully, as the kale can quickly burn.
19. Carrot sticks and hummus
Most kids love dip, and providing them with a healthy dip is a great way to get them to eat their veggies.
Hummus is one option. It’s a thick, creamy spread made from chickpeas, which contain fiber, folate, and plenty of antioxidants.
Hummus tastes yummy with carrot sticks or other raw vegetables.
20. Energy balls
Energy balls taste like cookie dough but are made with nutritious whole ingredients.
You can make these snacks with either ground flax or whole chia seeds — both source of fiber, protein, and antioxidants.
They’re a healthier alternative to commercial granola bars, which are usually high in sugar and artificial ingredients.
1 cup (80 grams) of oats
1/3 cup (115 grams) of unfiltered honey
1/2 cup (125 grams) of almond butter
1/2 cup of ground flax seeds (55 grams) or whole chia seeds (110 grams)
1 teaspoon (5 ml) of vanilla
1/2 cup (80 grams) of dried fruit
Mix all the ingredients in a large bowl. Roll the mixture into small balls and refrigerate. For a treat, replace the dried fruit with chopped dark chocolate chips.
21. Bell peppers and guacamole
Bell peppers are naturally sweet and highly nutritious. They provide a good source of fiber, vitamin C, and carotenoids.
Carotenoids are plant compounds with multiple health benefits, including supporting eye health.
Bell peppers taste delicious dipped in guacamole, a creamy spread made from mashed avocados.
22. Whole-grain crackers and nut butter
You can make your own sandwich crackers by spreading a little nut butter, such as almond butter, on whole-grain crackers. This snack has a good balance of protein, carbs, and fat.
However, choose crackers for your kids carefully. Many crackers are full of refined flour, hydrogenated oils, and even sugar.
Instead, choose crackers made with 100% whole grains and seeds.
23. A piece of fruit
A piece of fruit is a convenient and healthy snack for kids.
Most fruits contain fiber and important nutrients like potassium and vitamins A and C.
Bananas, apples, pears, grapes, peaches, and plums are examples of fruits that can be used for grab-and-go snacks.
Cut fruits like pineapple, cantaloupe, and mango into bite-size pieces and store in small containers for convenient snacks.
24. Peanut butter and banana quesadilla
A quesadilla made with peanut butter and banana is healthy and tasty.
Peanut butter is a great way to give your child a source of healthy fats and some protein.
Bananas are a good source of potassium, vitamin B6, and fiber.
This simple recipe combines peanut butter and bananas in a yummy snack.
Peanut butter and banana quesadilla
1 whole-wheat tortilla
2 tablespoons (30 grams) of peanut butter
1/2 of a banana
1/8 teaspoon of cinnamon
Spread the peanut butter over the entire tortilla. Slice the banana and arrange the slices on half of the tortilla. Sprinkle the cinnamon over the bananas and fold the tortilla in half. Slice it into triangles before serving.
Olives are rich in healthy fats and packed with powerful antioxidants that protect your body from damaging molecules called free radicals.
Olives are soft and easy for kids to eat. Make sure you purchase pitted ones for kids or remove the pit before serving them.
Different varieties have their own flavor. If you have never offered olives to your child before, start with mild-flavored black olives.
26. Apples and peanut butter dip
Apple slices and peanut butter are a delicious combination.
The skin of an apple contains pectin, a soluble fiber that feeds friendly gut bacteria and improves digestive health.
Peanut butter has a thick consistency, which may be difficult for kids to use as a dip.
Mix a little bit of plain, full-fat yogurt into two tablespoons (30 grams) of peanut butter to make a smooth, creamy dip for apple slices.
27. Frozen fruit popsicles
Frozen fruit popsicles are a yummy treat for kids and really quite healthy.
Most store-bought popsicles are full of artificial flavors and refined sugar or high-fructose corn syrup.
But you can easily make your own, and your kids may enjoy helping.
Purée frozen fruit or berries and a small amount of fruit juice in a blender. Pour the mixture into popsicle molds or small plastic cups. Cover with foil and insert a popsicle stick into the popsicles through the foil. Freeze overnight.
28. Half of a sandwich
Sandwiches don’t have to be just for mealtime. Half a sandwich can also make a healthy snack for kids.
To build a healthy sandwich, start with whole-wheat bread, pick a source of protein, and include a fruit or veggie, if possible.
Here are some examples of healthy sandwich combinations:
cheddar cheese and thinly sliced apples
mozzarella cheese and tomato slices
peanut butter and banana slices
turkey, Swiss cheese, and pickles
ricotta cheese mixed with finely chopped veggies
hard-boiled egg, avocado, and tomato
cream cheese and cucumber slices
The bottom line
Many kids get hungry between meals.
A healthy snack can provide your kids with energy and help them get the nutrients they need on a daily basis.
Offer your kids whole, unprocessed foods at snack time instead of prepackaged snack foods.