As I always say: When you’ve got kids, snack time is a way of life. But guess what: It should be that way for grown-ups, too.
As adults we’ve learned to ignore our hunger signals, either by ignoring them outright in some insane attempt at weight loss or because we’re too busy to stop and eat. Or maybe you’re the type of person who would LOVE to chow down whenever the mood strikes, but you know it’s not a good idea to just shovel in any old thing that sounds good at the moment (because for me, the answer to that question is always French fries — always).
The solution to that problem is obvious: Make snacks a part of your regular meal plan so you’ll always be prepared when hunger strikes. And when you’ve got nothing but healthy, delicious goodness on hand, there’s no need to feel guilty about indulging in a mid-afternoon crunch-fest.
If you’re a parent, the best snacks are not only ones that are healthy, but delicious for both you and your kids. That’s why I make ready-to-eat snack bags for my kids, because there’s nothing worse than being surrounded by ravenous children with their hands out the minute you sneak off to open your very own snack. (Seriously it’s the worst. I start feeling all stabby when that happens. So I try not to let it happen, ever.)
The great news is, healthy snacks have to be boring (or, worse, start a battle between you and your hungry kids as they whine — I mean ask for a snack for the 10th time today). These fresh, whole-foods treats are delectable, easy to make and crave-worthy, not to mention power-packed with vitamins, minerals and superfoods — nothing processed, sugary, greasy or even the least bit unhealthy. Just don’t tell your kids that.
Fluffy fruit salad
Fresh fruit is the obvious go-to healthy snack, so make your kids feel spoiled by whipping up a fluffy fruit salad — but instead of using sugar-laden, processed whipped topping, opt for a delectable yet secretly healthy alternative: coconut whipped cream. It’s easy to make, too. Just chill a can of full-fat coconut milk overnight, then scoop out the hard stuff and add a bit of vanilla extract. Mix it in a high-powered blender or use electric beaters to whip it into a frothy cream. It’s even better than the real deal, and your kids will never know they just ate the vegan alternative. (For breakfast, try it with my quick banana pancakes!)
Ants on a log
There are few snacks that pack as much nostalgia — and protein — as ants on a log: celery sticks stuffed with peanut butter and topped with raisins. For a superfood boost, update this classic with an idea from Choosing Raw’s Gena Hamshaw: celery with almond butter and goji berries, which are rich in protein, iron, fiber, and minerals but still pack the tart sweetness kids love.
Veggies and dip
There’s no disguising the vegetables in this snack, but by adding a creamy dip to dunk those crisp garden staples in, you won’t have to. Whip up a plant-based take on a classic ranch dip using The Rawtarian’s cashew-based raw ranch recipe, or try exotic hummus using ready-to-eat canned chickpeas. Hummus is power-packed with protein, fiber, complex carbohydrates and healthy fats — all crucial components of a brain-and-body-nourishing diet. Plus it’s easily customizable, so get creative by adding your own flavor twist.
Keep that coconut milk handy for another exotic take on a snack staple, chia pudding. It turns out that ch-ch-ch-chia seeds do more than grow on pottery; they’re an excellent source of fiber, protein, minerals and omega-3 fatty acid, and adding chia seeds to your diet can improve your heart health in a number of ways. To make basic chia pudding, mix 3 tablespoons chia seeds with 1 cup liquid, then let it chill. Add a tropical twist by using 1 cup coconut milk and a tablespoon of sweetener like agave nectar or pure maple syrup, then top with fruit and dried coconut.
Green monster smoothie
Nothing beats a fresh frozen smoothie on a hot afternoon — or even a cold one. Blend together any combination of fruit with enough ice to make it frosty, or try using frozen fruit pulp in exotic flavors. Add Greek yogurt for a probiotic punch, or go green by tossing in a handful of spinach, kale, chard or other dark leafies for a plant-based nutritional boost.
Chips and salsa
Who says chips can’t be a healthy after-school snack? Ditch the greasy potato variety and opt for crunchy corn tortilla chips instead, dipped in fresh salsa or creamy guacamole. It’s a cinch to chop up tomatoes, onions, garlic and cilantro for a quick pico de gallo (check my quick and delicious blender salsa recipe here!), or you can use canned, seasoned tomatoes for a restaurant-style blended dip. You can even make your own chips, too, by lightly coating corn tortillas with cooking oil, topping with salt, and baking in the oven at 350 degrees for about 10 minutes or until crispy.
Here’s one for the family on the go: If your kid’s snack comes after school but before practice/lessons/etc., take a bag of trail mix along for the ride. Start with dried fruit for natural sweetness, then toss in raw almonds, cashews or peanuts for a healthier alternative to the oiled-and-salted variety. Sunflower seeds add more nutty flavor and a host of vitamins and minerals, too. Add in a few chocolate chips to keep your kids from getting suspicious about the health-food factor in this take-along treat.
Peace, plants, and positivity,