Quick, Nut-free, and Nutritious: Snacks to Fuel the School Day
It's so tough to keep churning out nutritious food round the clock. We totally fall into the 'grab a bag of Goldfish' category when it comes to snacks. So we were super glad to get these four awesome ideas from @heather_kidskitchen for nutritious snacks! Her Instagram feed is full of bright and beautiful food for your kids so make sure you pay her a visit!
Let’s be honest, packing lunch for your kids everyday is a lot of work! Often I concentrate so much on what is going into my kids’ lunches, that snacks (during or after school) become a last minute grab-and-go situation. I’ve realized that if I take some time to plan ahead, snacks can be a great place to fill up my boys’ bellies with more nutritious options that won’t leave them starving 30 minutes later.
Also, there are lots of ways kids can help get their own snacks prepared before school. Below I’m sharing four of our favorite make-ahead snacks that your children will be able to help prepare.
Nut-free Trail Mix Bars
My 5-year-old is starting at a nut-free school for the first time this year, so I’m busy re-creating some of our favorite baked goods without nuts. These Nut-Free Trail Mix Bars are so easy to put together, and they are packed with oats, seeds, and dried fruit to keep our kids’ energy going throughout the day. They are sweetened with only ripe bananas and totally customizable to suit any taste.
Add whatever dried fruit your child likes, or simply sprinkle some mini chocolate chips on top to grab their attention. Bake the bars together as an after school activity then store in the freezer to have on hand whenever you need them. Recipe included below.
Nut-Free Trail Mix Bars (makes 12 bars)
-3 very ripe bananas
-3 tablespoons sunflower seed butter
-1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
-2 cups rolled oats
1/4 cup flax seed meal (ground flax seeds)
1/4 cup hemp seeds or chia seeds
1/4 cup unsalted sunflower seeds
1/4 cup raw pumpkin seeds
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
Pinch coarse salt
1/2 cup dried fruit (such as cranberries or raisins), roughly chopped
Mini chocolate chips or more seeds, for the top) optional
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Line a 9-inch square baking pan with parchment paper or grease to prevent sticking.
- In a large bowl, mash bananas with a fork or potato masher until mostly smooth. Add in sunflower seed butter and vanilla and stir to combine.
- To the bowl of a food processor, add the oats, flax meal, seeds, cinnamon, and salt. Pulse 3 to 5 times to combine and roughly chop their ingredients. There should still be some pieces of oats and seeds visible.
- Dumb chopped oat and seed mixture into the bowl with the mashed bananas. Add in dried fruit and stir to combine.
- Scoop mixture into your prepared pan and spread into an even layer. Sprinkle the top with chocolate chips or extra seeds, if using.
- Bake until set and golden brown around the edges, 15 to 18 minutes. Allow to cool completely then cut into bars. Bars can be stored in the fridge for a week or wrapped individually and frozen for up to a month.
Fruit and Veggie Packs
We often separate fruits and veggies, but they can be friends! I find that putting them together can be a way to introduce vegetables that aren’t my child’s favorite. I always include fruits and veggies in the lunch box, but the truth is sometimes they don’t get eaten. Lunch time at school can be quick and busy, so adding fruits and vegetables to snack time gives our kids a chance to get those nutrients in at other times of day.
I usually pack these fruit and veggie combos for a morning snack because if the veggies get left behind, then I know lunch time will be coming soon and my guys won’t go hungry. If your child doesn’t like many vegetables, start slow and pack a fruit they like with only a couple pieces of the veggie at first.
Make-ahead Yogurt Cups
This is a great snack choice to get the kids involved: set out the yogurt, fruit, and any nuts or seeds and have the kids make their own yogurt cups to store in the fridge. I like to buy whole milk plain yogurt so we can control the sugar content and flavor the yogurt however we want. If you child can’t have dairy, there are also lots of plant based yogurt options out there these days.
Some of our favorite toppings are frozen blueberries, fresh berries, a drizzle of honey or maple syrup, and a sprinkle of chia seeds, hemp seeds, sunflower seeds, or granola for crunch.
MYO Snack Mix
I get it! Sometimes individual packs of pretzels or crackers are necessary, but if you are looking for something a little different and more nutrient packed, try making your own snack mix. Search the bulk bins at your grocery store or buy large bags of snack items such as seeds, dried fruit, pretzels, popcorn, and freeze-dried fruit. Get your kids involved, and have them create their own personal snack mix to place in individual bags throughout the week.
Hope you’ll come find me on Instagram at @heather_kidskitchen and share some of your go-to snack packing tips. Best of luck with the new school year!
Thank you so much Heather for such a fantastic range of healthy snack options to keep our kiddos energized and healthy! We can't wait to bake up some Nut-free Trail Mix Bars!
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