Snacks are one of the meals of the day that children tend to enjoy a lot, it’s a time to share and also to play, but we don’t always know what to prepare to offer them something healthy.
Children have a smaller stomach than adults and that’s why every 2 or 3 hours they get hungry and ask for something to eat. Providing them with a healthy snack ensures they are well fed so they can focus better, have energy to play and even maintain a good mood.
What are healthy snacks?
For a snack to be considered healthy, it must be based on real, natural, low-processed ingredients:
- Fruits or vegetables should not be missing from your mid-morning snack or snack.
- Not protein-rich foods like seeds, nuts, nut butters, vegetable spreads, hummus, tofu, and other plant-based proteins, so they feel fuller and happier.
- Also, depending on the time of day and the condition of each child, we can include carbohydrates in snacks; ideally, they should be complete, such as wholegrain bread, sticks or cereal pancakes.
To make snacks more attractive, we can innovate with shapes and colors and offer simple ways to consume them. For example, savory dumplings with shapes, skewers combined with fruit or savory with the ingredients that the children in the house like the most.
It is important to strike a balance between good nutrition and satiety so that they get to the next meal, dinner, without major problems.
What to offer for lunch
We can offer very young children any food at snack time, it doesn’t have to be a special snack. They can be, for example:
- Pieces of red fruits such as apples, pears, avocados, tangerines or blueberries; pieces of raw vegetables, such as carrots, cucumbers, tomatoes cherry
- Leftover cooked vegetables, such as sweet potatoes, squash, or roasted zucchini
- Cooked vegetables
- leftover cooked pasta
- pieces of tofu
- vegetable meatballs
- Oatmeal or pancakes left over from breakfast
- thawed peas
- apple sauce
For older children, around three years old, we can offer them fruit, nuts, good quality yogurt… but we can also prepare healthy variants usual snacks because at this age they are already comparing themselves with what other children eat.
- Sandwiches with wholegrain bread and plant-based protein like tofu slices, grilled seitan, plant-based burgers, hummus, peanut butter, chocoporoto, homemade chocolate and hazelnut cream.
- Candies with wholegrain ingredients such as energy bars, oatmeal cookies, wholegrain cakes or muffins, etc.
A sweet and a savory straight for healthy snacks
ENERGY BARS ALMONDS AND CHOCOLATE
Cereal bars are already a classic when it comes to snacking, due to their nutritional value, duration and practicality. Therefore, we can prepare a good amount to refrigerate and change the ingredients according to taste.
The market offers many bar options, but loaded with ultra-processed ingredients, sugars and preservatives. It’s best to do them at home, it won’t take more than 10 minutes.
Ingredients (4 bars):
- 2 brown rice pancakes (or other cereal such as quinoa, buckwheat) or 1/2 cup puffed rice
- 2 tablespoons chopped toasted almonds or walnuts
- A bit of salt
- 1 tablespoon of rice syrup or honey
- 40g of dark chocolate
- 1 tablespoon peanut or peanut butter
Preparation (10 min + cooking 5 min):
- Crumble the pancakes with your hands so that crumbs remain.
- In a bowl, mix the pancake crumbs with the almonds and a pinch of salt.
- In a small saucepan combine rice syrup, chocolate and almond butter and heat over low heat until well blended.
- Mix the dry ingredients with the liquid mixture.
- Pour the mixture into a Tupperware lined with parchment paper and squeeze well.
- Let it cool in the fridge for at least an hour (best overnight) and cut into bars.
The bread clump It is a type of flat bread made with chickpea flour, typical of France and Italy. There it is prepared in the markets and enjoyed directly with the hands.
It is a very simple bread, which we can offer to children as is or to soak in sauces, spreads or as a base for vegetables. The good thing is that chickpea flour is very nutritious, rich in fiber, minerals, proteins and is naturally gluten-free. For the little ones we can cut them into small cubes.
Ingredients (4 servings):
- 1 cup chickpea flour
- 1 cup of warm water
- 2 tablespoons of olive oil
- ½ teaspoon of salt
- Optional: cumin, paprika, nutritional yeast, garlic powder, herbs like basil, thyme, rosemary, olives, sun-dried tomatoes, cheese…
Preparation (10 min + rest 30 min + cooking 20 min):
- In a bowl, mix the chickpea flour with the water, salt and oil and let it rest for 30 minutes.
- Preheat the oven to 230ºC.
- If you have an oven-safe cast iron skillet, let it heat in the oven for about 10 minutes. Then carefully brush with a little oil, pour in the dough and cook until the dough is firm and golden on the sides, about 15-20 minutes. If you don’t have the cast iron skillet, use a flat roasting pan that you have on hand.
- Enjoy straight from the oven as is or with hummus, Baba Ganoush, cream cheese, avocado, vegan cheese, tzatziki, pesto, vegetables…
- The bread socca We can keep it for up to 2 days in a container and heat it to 200ºC in the oven for a few minutes.
If you want to know more healthy recipes for your kids, you can find them here