It's that time of the year where parents start to ask me for healthy snack ideas. It seems there are ice cream trucks, candy stands, donuts and other things to tempt our kids all throughout the summer. It can be difficult to get them to eat healthy all the time but don't stress too much about situations you can't control. We don't want to raise our kids to have an unhealthy relationship or feel the need to hide or sneak unhealthy food.
I always start with a breakfast that has a balance of healthy fat and protein. I give my son two eggs cooked in pasture butter. This may get paired with gluten-free waffles or toast, topped with nut butter or protein/fat based pancakes. I try to avoid including fruit at breakfast to reduce the sugar impact and save fruit for snacks. Although fruit is fun to use as decorations.
For lunches I encourage kids to come inside to get a break from the sun and eat something healthy. Again, make sure there is protein and healthy fat. Hard-boiled eggs are fun, particularly with an egg slicer. Jerky, sausages, pepperoni, nitrate-free lunch meat and cheese are also easy. I like to add fresh vegetables, such as sweet peppers, cucumbers, carrots, celery, jicama. These are all refreshing on a hot day. You can pair with hummus, guacamole or a dip made from healthy ingredients. Kids are more tempted to eat vegetables when they are sliced and arranged in a fun way.
When it's hot out, kids will naturally gravitate towards fruit. Have refreshing fruit on hand, like peaches, apples, oranges and melons. Grapes and cherries are also easy things to snack on and can satisfy the hand to mouth desire. A good rule of thumb is to try to pair the fruit with some fat, such as nuts or nut butters. Cheese is another pairing option but that can be difficult to keep chilled on a hot day.
Water is very important, particularly on a hot day, and many people mistake hunger for thirst. Stay away from fruit juices but you can make some fruit infused water. You can also add some electrolytes to water if it's really hot. I like Nuun tablets. I also like some of the sparkling kefir drinks for kids. They are good for the gut microbiome and are a great replacement for soda. My son loves Doctor D's apple.
Smoothies or homemade "ice cream" are popular. Use full-fat dairy or dairy alternative as your base (full-fat Greek yogurt, full-fat coconut milk, whole milk...), add some fruit and fat (coconut oil, nut butter...), a handful of greens and part of an avocado. Avocado is key to making it rich and creamy. If you have a Vitamix you can use some of the same ingredients to make it into a thicker mixture like ice cream or sorbet.
Homemade popsicles are easy to make, but just be sure to add a little fat to reduce the sugar rush. You can also simply freeze fruit, such as grapes. Kids love them!
An alternative to chips is homemade popcorn. Pop organic corn in coconut oil and top with more coconut oil, pasture butter or ghee and sea salt. I typically make an extra batch on movie night and have that available for snacks. If you do serve chips, the best options are those with the smallest ingredient lists and fried in healthy oils, such as coconut or avocado oil. Some good brands are Boulder, Jackson's Honest and Kettle.
Other snack options:
- Full-fat Greek yogurt with gluten-free granola and dark chocolate chips
- Banana dipped in melted dark chocolate with nuts
- Banana Chocolate Muffins
- Brownie Bites
Smoothie recipe (for one child):
1 cup coconut milk
1 tbsp nut butter
1/2 scoop chocolate protein powder
Handful of greens
Blend until smooth