What is your kid eating when you're not in the picture? If you don't provide your kid with fun, nutritious, and flavorful snacks, odds are they'll find their way to the junk food.
Trying to cut out junk food can be an uphill battle when it comes to kids. Trips to the grocery store always seem to end in the snack aisle, where sugar and added chemicals know no bounds. Instead of reaching for a box of high fructose corn syrup, you can try making healthier versions of these sugary snacks, like these homemade fruit roll-ups. You can even customize them with your kid's favorite fruits!
2 cups fresh cut strawberries (or another fruit of your choice)
2 cups fresh cut mango (or another fruit of your choice)
2 Tbsp honey
2 Tbsp lemon juice
1. Preheat oven to 170 degrees Fahrenheit
2. Combine strawberries and mangos in a blender or food processor and blend until smooth. Add honey and lemon juice until just combined.
3. Line two baking pans with parchment paper or silicon sheets. Pour puree into pans and spread with a rubber spatula until even and thin (about 1/8 inch thick)
4. Bake pans in the oven for 3-4 hours or until puree is no longer tacky and and firm to touch on the top, and no longer wet on the bottom.
5. Allow the puree to cool. Place another sheet of parchment paper on top, and flip the puree out of the pan onto a clean surface, keeping it sandwiched between the parchment paper.
6. Using clean scissors, cut into long strips. Remove the top layer of parchment paper, and roll the strips up. If they unroll a bit, you can secure them with tape or a fun sticker! Store in an airtight container for up to a week.
There you have it! Easy, delicious, and secretly healthy. Perfect, because every parent wants their kids to eat right. At the same time, though, there are only so many hours in the day. That's why we went searching for the quickest and most kid-friendly snacks we could find. Most of these are so simple you can even get your kid involved in the preparation!
Moms and dads, get ready to enter snacking nirvana.
1. The Frozen PB&J Hack
We won't bore you with the details of how to make a peanut and jelly sandwich. You know what your kid likes: crusts on or off, strawberry or grape, creamy or chunky.
But did you know that the humble PB&J actually freezes wonderfully? You can make a batch on Sunday and have snacks for the week. Best of all, these sandwiches will defrost in the lunch bag and be ready to go by the time breakfast wears off.
2. Ever-Fresh Apple Slices
Apple slices make a great afternoon snack. They're sweet, delicious, nutritious, and legend has it that they'll even keep the doctor away!
But no kid wants to eat browning apple slices, and coating every slice in lemon juice is a hassle. Here's a simple trick to keep apple slices kitchen fresh all the way to snack time.
First, you'll have to unlearn everything you think you know about cutting apple slices. Don't slice through the center; don't waste time carving out seeds and core.
Instead, set your apple stem-side-down on the cutting board. Slice straight down, making your cut just outside the core. Repeat that four times (or more, if your kid likes thinner slices).
Then reassemble the apple around its square core. Hold the whole thing together with a thick rubber band and throw it in the paper bag! The apple skin will prevent oxidation, ensuring that every slice is as crisp and fresh as possible.
3. Cashew Shaker
Send your kids to school with a healthy, convenient blast of protein that'll keep them sharp all the way through their after-school activities.
Simple take a mason jar and an empty juice carton. Using the jar's lid as a stencil, draw a circle around the top of the carton, including the resealable spout.
Cut that circle out and set it on top of the jar. Seal it in place with the jar rim. Fill your shaker jar with cashews, peanuts, or even trail mix. Whatever your kid's favorite dry snack is, they'll enjoy eating it more when it comes in such a fun and convenient package.
4. Slushy Dessert
Juice drinks that come in pouches seem custom-made for this trick. Just freeze a pouch, cut off the top, and hand your kid a spoon.
They'll love the sweet, fruity slush, and they'll never even notice that their dessert is a decent source of vitamins!
5. Edible Jewelry
At certain ages, kids seem like they're always hungry. Their bones, muscles, and brains are developing rapidly, and that takes a lot of energy!
Give your kid an all-day snack by making some fun edible jewelry. We've all seen the candy necklaces, but there's a healthier way to try this old favorite. The good news is that kids love to participate in this activity, so you don't have to do all the work yourself.
Pick your kid's favorite round cereal. (Let's hope it's Cheerios. Cheerios are probably your most nutritious option.) Anyway, get a big bowl of Cheerios or whatever else your child prefers, as long as it's shaped like a ring.
Now, simply string the cereal along a length of twine. Once it's full, tie it up, and present it to your kid as an awesome piece of edible jewelry. If you have really hungry kids, you can always stack necklaces—and even mix and match types of cereal for a one-of-a-kind flavor sensation that's totally wearable.
6. The Portable Smorgasbord
If you have kids, chances are there's a craft box sitting around somewhere in your house. These partitioned plastic cases are great for storing beads, buttons, and jewelry (maybe even edible jewelry!) You know what else they're good for? A veritable feast of kids' snacks that's custom built for the road.
Start by washing your craft box thoroughly. It should be as clean as the plates you eat dinner off, because it will essentially become a plate your kid eats dinner off.
Invite the youngsters in the kitchen to help pick snacks. In our household, popular choices include blueberries, carrot slices, animal crackers, grapes, and cheese cubes.
Simply fill each compartment with its own kid-sized snack. When your children get hungry later in the day, they'll be able to mix and match as they please. With larger craft cases, they'll even have enough to share with friends or if you're lucky, even their siblings.
7. Ants on a Log
File this one under "oldie but goody." Cut celery stalks in 4-inch lengths. Then fill them with peanut butter. That's it for the "log."
Now for the ants. Place a row of raisins on the peanut butter, which should hold them fast. This snack does tend to get a little bit messy in transit, but kids love them, and they're a great nutritious alternative to junk food.
8. Safari Logs
This playful twist on the old "Ants on a Log" snack is great for kids who love animals. Start the same way you would to make Ants on a Log, except cut your celery stalks down to just 2 or 3 inches in length.
Fill the hollow of the celery with peanut butter. Then place your kid's favorite animal cracker in the peanut butter. You can even add raisins or other dried fruit as "animal feed"!
Repeat with other animal crackers to give your child an edible zoo.
9. Fruit and Veggie Flowers
It's not always easy to entice kids to get all of their recommended servings of fruits and veggies. By dressing up sweet melon and kiwi, though, you create a visual appeal that's hard to resist. Just be careful. You might end up eating all of these yourself!
First, peel and slice cantaloupe or honeydew melon in half-inch-thick slices. Then grab your favorite 2-inch flower-shaped cookie cutter and press out as many melon flowers as you can.
Take a smaller version of the same cookie cutter. If you have 1-inch flower cutter, that's perfect. Peel and slice kiwi in quarter-inch slices. Press those in flower shapes, and layer the smaller kiwi petals on the larger melon flowers.
Cut red grapes in half to create the pistil, or center of the flower. Kids will love the look and the taste, and you'll love the vitamins and fiber you're sneaking in their diet.
If you don't have cookie cutters, don't despair. Just trim the fruit by hand. It's a little more labor intensive, but you can come up with your own beautiful shapes.
10. Fruity Caterpillars
Here's another cute option that'll increase your child's fruit intake. Start with a bag of grapes (red or green, whichever your kid prefers). You'll also need a small amount of white frosting, a bag of wooden skewers, and a bag of mini chocolate chips.
Line the skewers with grapes, piercing each fruit through the side rather than lengthwise. You can start to see why these are nicknamed "caterpillars." But to really complete the illusion, you need to give these cute snacks some eyes.
That's where the icing and chocolate chips come in. Place two small dabs of icing on each caterpillar's "head." Then stick a chocolate chip on each dab to complete the picture.
Pro tip: You will need to make sure the grapes that become the caterpillar heads are totally dry before creating the "eyes." Otherwise, the frosting might slide right off. Pack a caterpillar or two in your kid's lunch for dessert. They won't even realize they're eating fruit rather than sweets!