As the school year marches on, and the luster of packing snacks and lunches for my boys starts to feel like a chore, I try to rally myself to dig a little deeper and find interesting options. I try to avoid the pre-packaged snack packs because they are more expensive and usually aren’t that great. My older son, who perhaps is a little bit of a purist (trained by his chef mother to be slightly opinionated about food quality and taste – it’s my own fault) is perfectly happy every day with the same snack; Parmigiano cheese, sliced apple and some sort of bread (now it’s pumpernickel). My dairy free son (due to an intolerance, which is crazy considering that I once went to cheese camp in Vermont and I am an all-around whore for good cheese) is usually a bit more adventurous. In my opinion, he opens up his palate to different foods because he is limited in the dairy area. He will try something new every day if he could. His current favorite are Maya Kaimal’s delicious chickpea chips and I might also snack on them if I need a little something.
When I pack snacks, I try to cover a few things: is there a nutritious fat, is there protein and is there fiber? I always include an easy to eat fruit or vegetable.
Some snack ideas include:
- Popcorn with pepitas and dried cranberries or dried tart cherries
- Sunflower butter with sliced apples. I always slice my apples for my kids because this will ensure that they eat the whole thing. If they are packed tightly together, this will reduce browning. If one is worried that the apple is brown, dip in slightly acidulated lemon water.
- Smoothies in a thermos. If you are concerned that your child won’t eat fruit, try a smoothie. Use a plain Greek yogurt without sugar, frozen bananas and berries to create a good one. Much better than the bottled kind from the store.
- Sliced bell peppers and hummus. It’s hard to believe that hummus has become such an old standby but it is a great choice!
- Good cheese is always a winner, try a harder cheese like Gouda or Parmigiano, it will hold up to the backpack treatment. Pair with grapes and a seeded bread.
One of the most important things when selecting snacks for your children is to try to get the nutritious stuff in front of them first! A little bit of preparation and mindfulness helps get the temptation of the easy grab empty calories out of the way and the nutritious foods in front of your children first (and for you too! Moms and Dads need good snacks too!)