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Many nutrient-rich snacks can be packed as quickly and easily as goldfish or chips and they provide so much more for our growing, hard-playing children.
Here are fifteen easy-to-pack snack ideas. I’ve written out some health benefits for each of them.
1) Raw Sugar Snap Peas – We recently introduced these to Lucas and I don’t know why we waited so long. Sweet, crunchy and green – everybody wins!
Sugar Snap Peas contain Vitamin C (immunity), Vitamin K & B6 (bone health), folate (heart health), fiber, iron and the antioxidant beta-carotene (eye health and anti-cancer).
2) Frozen Edamame with Sea Salt - Shelled edamame thaw quickly so you can pack them straight from the freezer.
Edamame contain antioxidants (anti-cancer, immunity building) and isoflavones (for heart health and anti-cancer) along with vitamins C, B, E & K. They have a high mineral content and contain folate & fiber. They are also high in protein (6 grams for a 1/4 cup serving).
3) Corn on the Cob - Cook extra corn at dinnertime and pack half-ears for snacks the next day.
Corn offers fiber, antioxidants and vitamins A, B & E. It is also a good source of minerals.
4) Grape Tomatoes and Chopped Cucumbers - This is a great hydrating snack for hot summer days! I chop half a Persian cucumber (which is thin-skinned and doesn’t require peeling) and add some grape tomatoes. Cut the tomatoes in half if you are concerned about them being a choking hazard.
Tomatoes are a good source of the lycopene and vitamin C. Cucumbers keep the body hydrated and contain three types of lignans that fight off certain cancers and silica which is good for joints. The high water/fiber content remedies constipation.
5) Carrots and Celery Sticks with Ginger-Miso Dressing – The trick with carrots and celery is to slice them thinly and to not serve an overwhelming amount. I also talk about how great it is for our teeth to get exercise from eating crunchy foods. (True!) My children like vinegar/ginger based dressings, but a quality buttermilk ranch would work just as well.
Both carrots and celery are high in fiber and vitamins C & A. They contain two important pytonutrients: beta-carotene (immunity) and lutein (eye health).
6) Dried Seaweed Snacks – When our friend Jude (age 3) comes over to play, he plows through these like there’s no tomorrow.
Dried Seaweed Snacks contain trace-minerals including iodine (promotes normal thyroid function) and vitamin C.
7) Honeydew Chunks with Lime Juice - Have you ever tried this? TOTALLY ADDICTIVE.
Honeydew is a good source of Potassium, B vitamins, Vitamin C and Copper (for healthy skin.)
8) Dried Fruit, Almond, Dark Chocolate Chip Mix - Sofia loves raisins, turkish apricots, medjool dates … just about any kind of dried fruit. Lucas is more picky. They both agree on dried cherries, berries, mangos and apples. We avoid added sulfites and (except for cranberries) sugars. When chocolate chips are in mix they are (of course) the first to go but the hunger remains so kids usually keep eating once they are gone.
Dried fruits contain fiber, minerals and, depending on the variety, vitamins C and A. Dark chocolate is a great source of antioxidants, and almonds provide calcium, protein, healthy fats and minerals.
9) Sunflower Seeds - Today Lucas’s friend came over and I encouraged him to try sunflower seeds. He tried a couple and said he didn’t like them. I told him casually that sometimes when I don’t like something that I know is healthy, I “eat it anyway.” This is becoming a motto in our home. I told him, with an air of excitement, how much vitamin E is in them and how good they are for his heart. He ate three servings.
Sunflower seeds are a good source of protein, fatty acids, amino acids (such as tryptophan which is essential for growth), and many types of polyphenol compounds (natural antioxidants). They are a fantastic source of B vitamins and vitamin E as well as many essential minerals including Magnesium, Calcium, Manganese and Iron.
10) All Natural Beef Jerky - Or better yet, grass fed. Need I say more?
High in protein, amino acids, minerals and vitamins (particularly B-12 & B-6.)
11) Croque-Monsieur Muffins - Ham, cheese, veggies, whole grains – mmmmm… I like to make a large batch of these and freeze them. They make a substantial snack or a quick breakfast.
These savory muffins are packed with protein, calcium, fiber and vitamins from vegetables.
12) Cheese Cubes and Olives - Add some French bread or rice crackers and sparkling mineral water and you have yourself a respectable mini-picnic.
Cheese is a good source of protein and calcium. Olives provide essential fatty acids, iron, fiber, antioxidant and anti-inflammatory nutrients. Olives also contain a phytonutrient called Hydroxytyrosol which has been linked to cancer prevention and bone health.
13) Air-Popped Popcorn – We find this to be a good pool snack (once hands are dried) because it is light, yet satisfies rumbly tummies after swimming. We like it with sea salt and plenty of butter.
Popcorn contains complex carbs, and a small dose of protein. Surprisingly, it also offers polyphenols which prevent cancer and heart disease.
14) Lara Bars – We are converting from Clif Zbars to LARABARS. I love the short and simple ingredient list – dried fruit, nuts, and sea salt. They are vegan, gluten free, and they taste great! Lucas likes “Peanut Butter Cookie” flavor best.
LARABARS are made from whole foods and are rich in fiber, protein and minerals.
15) Whole Spelt Walnut Chocolate-Chip Cookies - Yummy! Truly.
Whole Spelt Flour is rich in protein, fiber, magnesium and B Vitamins. Walnuts are a super food known for their vitamin E content, phenols (90% are found in the skin), omega 3s, protein and fiber. They also contain several rare cancer-preventing phytonutrients.