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Ever search the internet tirelessly for healthy kids snacks? Inevitably, you’ll find the sites with Pinterest-worthy images of moms who have make a monkey face out of fruits and veggies. And they’re adorable kids are smiling and eating it right up!
Let me be honest. I don’t have the time or desire to make a choo-choo train out of celery, peanut butter, and raisins. We all know the kid simply going to lick the peanut butter out and throw the celery away anyway. At least, that’s what I did as a kid.
If you’re lucky enough to have a kid that can eat ho-hos and still be the picture of perfect health, great. And if you’re lucky enough to have a kid that absolutely loves grabbing a handful of carrot sticks when their tummy gets a little grumbly, I’m thrilled for you. But that’s not how my household works and maybe you’re facing some of the same struggles I am.
We’re not a skinny family. We’re not obese but we all (me, my husband, my son) all need to do better with our diet and exercise. And we have been! Last year, we spent a full 30 days doing the Whole30 plan. And this year, we started on the 21 Day Reset Plan (or ketogenic diet) and we’re still going strong at the end of February.
So we’ve found something that works for us. And there are a lot of foods I cook and we enjoy. But when it comes to school lunches, our options get a little limited. So I’m always on the lookout for something that isn’t processed and tastes good – bonus points if it’s high protein and low carb. I’ve got a few of things that are staples in the lunchbox.
Our Staples for Healthy Kids Snacks
These are the go-to snacks that I pack in my son’s lunch and how I make them a little healthier.
- Hard boiled eggs – If you haven’t made hard-boiled eggs in the Instant Pot, you haven’t lived. I keep a dozen of organic free-range eggs (usually Nellie’s) on hand every week just for this.
- GoGo Squeez Organic Applesauce – We buy the organic variety pack from Costco and we never run out. A perfect snack with lunch or breakfast or after school
- Sargento Balanced Breaks – I find this to be the perfect snack any time of the day. Pick the nuts of your choosing (we go for almonds, walnuts, or cashews) paired with cheese and some dried fruit.
- Galbani Whole Milk Mozzarella Sticks – I mention this brand because the taste is far superior to the others out there. And don’t skimp on the fat. It’s more calories but it’s more flavor and will keep you satiated.
Something New and Different for Healthy Kids Snacks!
While we love our stand-bys, my family does better on the straight and narrow when I can surprise them with new snacks every once in a while. I picked up samples of most of these last fall at the Natural Products Expo East and I can tell you these are all kid-approved.
Let me tell you something about Whisps. These are not just for kids. In fact, if you buy them for your kids, you will end up tearing into this bag and eating most of them. But if you buy them for yourself, your kids will want to know why Mommy isn’t sharing her “chips.”
Here’s the truth. Whisps are nothing but cheese. Literally. That’s it. In fact, I’ve made my own cheese crisps at home (it’s easy to do with a hard cheese like parmesan). But do I want to grate up the cheese, preheat the over, bake them, store them, etc. every few days? No. I am not that mom. So I buy a bag of these (or a BIG bag of these at Costco) and we now have a crunchy crispy snack.
Why I like it: It’s crisp and crunchy (something you miss out on if you’re watching your carbs). Speaking of cards, it’s very low carb, high protein, and gluten free. And you don’t have to worry about preservatives, additives, colors, flavors, or added sugar. Seriously. It’s just cheese.
Something happened to my son while he was growing up. He suddenly became a MEGA MEAT EATER. Maybe it’s a boy thing or maybe his body just craves the protein. But I have to keep a steady supply of meat in the house. I brought home a few samples of The New Primal Snack Mates meat sticks from the Natural Products Expo last fall and he immediately asked me to buy more of these.
Why I like it: It’s about as healthy as you can get for meat: grass fed beef, free range chicken and turkey, all without added hormones or antibiotics. They’re naturally sweetened (which means low sugar), high in protein, and free from most common allergens.
We’re going to add a few carbs back in now but they are totally worth it. P-nuff Crunch baked peanut puffs taste like… Cap’n Crunch Peanut Butter Crunch. How do I know? I was a junk food junkie growing up and I loved that cereal! But P-nuff Crunch is like a healthy version make from navy beans, white rice, tapioca starch, organic evaporated cane juice, brown rice protein, peanuts, and salt.
Why I like it: Because it tastes like junk food even though it’s not! Not only that, but it’s full of vegan protein fro peanuts, rice, and navy beans. Also, non-GMO and gluten free.
Let’s say your kid is a little pickier and doesn’t jump at the chance to eat meat sticks and baked cheese. Maybe they are strictly into peanut butter & jelly (we went through this phase – to those new parents out there, it does eventually end). Van’s PB&J sandwich bars provide the taste without the work. And they have a pretty clean ingredient list.
Why I like it: While this snack still has sugar, you won’t find high fructose corn syrup, or artificial flavors and preservatives. And it’s full of healthy whole grains which helps keep your kids satisfied for longer periods of time.
Justin is the guy who founded Justin’s, known primarily for their nut butters. They do have peanut-related snacks but I like to push the almond butter snack packs because there are so many heart healthy reasons to eat almonds. Justin knows that which is why he offers a variety of nut butter packs along with either pretzel sticks or banana chips.
Why I like it: Again, it comes down to ingredients. Take a look at those peanut butter sandwich crackers you might be putting in your kids’ lunches (you know – the fluorescent orange ones) and you might be surprised by the chemical list. Justin’s Snack Pack, above, for example, contains: Classic Almond Butter – Dry Roasted Almonds, Palm Oil. Pretzels – Wheat Flour, Non-GMO Malt Extract, Non-GMO Canola Oil, Salt, Yeast, Baking Soda.
So, the next time you’re scouring Pinterest wondering if you’ll ever be able to get your kids to eat healthy, give yourself a break and go out and buy a few healthy kids snacks that you don’t have to make.