8 Healthy School Snacks That Kids Will Love
September 07, 2022
Back-to-school time is here, which means it’s time to meal prep for your kids again. Instead of packing cookies and chips as a snack item, fill your child's tummy with snacks that will energize your little ones, while still staying fun and kid-friendly.
“Snacks don't always have to be unhealthy choices and snack time can actually be a great opportunity to get some extra nutrients into your kids’ diet. A regular (not pre-sports) snack should be approximately 150 calories and ~15 grams of carbohydrates” says Andrea Anfuso-Sisto, registered dietitian and nutritionist at Hackensack University Medical Center.
Michelle Maresca, M.D., pediatric endocrinologist at Hackensack, advises parents to try to avoid processed foods and choose snacks made up of fruit, vegetables, protein, and whole grains. This prevents feelings of hunger between meals.
It’s also important to ensure that requests for a snack are coming from a place of hunger rather than boredom. “Some children eat out of boredom; if the snack request comes shortly after another snack or meal, try to steer them toward other activities as a distraction,” says Dr. Maresca.
Healthy Snack Ideas
- Yogurt - Greek yogurt is high in protein and contains less sugar, making it a healthy snack item to pack for your kids. Adding 1-2 tablespoons of chopped nuts adds healthy fats or 1-2 T of lower sugar granola will add some crunch.
- Reduced fat cheese sticks - Give your kids a kick of protein by adding low fat cheese sticks to their snack bag. Cheese is also packed with calcium, which is great for growing bones.
- Popcorn - Popcorn is an easy-on-the go snack for both parents and kids, as it’s easy to pop them in a ziplock for parents and kids to eat on a go. Popcorn may feel like treats, but when they are air-popped and lightly seasoned, it is a healthy snack. Popcorn is high in fiber and will keep your kids' tummy full for longer.
- Fruit smoothie - Smoothies are a great way to pack a lot of nutrients that your child needs. When made with low fat or almond milk, it helps to meet your child’s daily calcium needs. Adding veggies to the smoothie is a plus and your child won’t even notice due to the sweetness of the fruit. It’s important to avoid fruit juices as they are very high in sugar and have no fiber, so it’s recommended to use frozen or fresh fruits, but limit the fruit to no more than 1 cup.
- Raw veggie sticks dipped into hummus - Hummus made from chickpeas is rich in protein and dietary fiber. Cut your child’s favorite vegetable into small sticks ready to dip in the hummus. Adding a tasty dip can entice them to eat veggies, which is a win for parents.
- Apple with one tablespoon of peanut butter - Together, peanut butter and apple provide a healthy balance of protein, fat, fiber and happiness to your little ones. Try to choose natural peanut butter that contains only peanuts and salt. If nuts are not allowed, try SunButter made from sunflower seeds.
- Whole grain crackers and cheese - When shopping for crackers look for crackers made with whole grains or oats. Portion out crackers to equal ~15 grams of carbohydrates and serve with one ounce of cheese.
- Roasted chickpeas - Chickpeas are a great carbohydrate choice, as they are a good source of fiber and contain protein. They can be seasoned with a variety of seasonings to suit your taste and roasted to make it a crunchy and healthy snack.
Which foods and drinks should be avoided in children?
- Food and drinks with added sugar such as soda, sweetened drinks, energy drinks, cakes and cookies. Choose water or other zero calorie beverages (when not choosing milk).
- Sources of concentrated sweets such as juice, fruit snacks and candy.
- Caffeinated drinks such as coffee, tea, sport drinks and soft drinks.
- Food with high salt content such as canned meat and packaged noodles.
Next Steps & Resources:
- Meet our sources: Michelle Maresca, M.D. and Andrea Anfuso-Sisto, R.D.
- To make an appointment with a doctor near you, call 800-822-8905 or visit our website.
The material provided through HealthU is intended to be used as general information only and should not replace the advice of your physician. Always consult your physician for individual care.
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