By Ruthie Prasil
As a mom of five (almost six) under the age of ten, I’m constantly on the hunt for kid-friendly snacks. I have mom friends who are blessed with children who will eat whatever is in front of them. “Here’s your snack of carrots and hummus, little Jimmy!” and I watch with envy as little Jimmy devours it and asks for more. Now, I know it’s all my fault because if I told my kids that was our snack, they’d laugh and then ask what hummus is. So what I look for in a snack is simplicity. “Normal” ingredients that appeal to a wide range of little humans. Easy prep and minimal effort. But, here’s the catch, it also has to have a bit of a fun factor if I want them to eat the whole thing. Below is a collection of snacks I’ve found in magazines, online, and from friends that I’ve adapted to fit our family. The good thing about most of these? You can change different elements to fit your kids’ dietary or pickiness needs. And with school having just started up, these are perfect to throw in those lunch boxes.
This is the easiest of all snacks and probably the most fun for kids. Have your kids make a list of their 5 favorite bite size snacks. (It’s easiest if you list some off for them and write down what they choose). Mini marshmallows, goldfish crackers, teddy grahams, pretzels, M&Ms, almonds, granola… that kind of thing. Take a cup or so of each ingredient and add it all together in a large mixing bowl. Depending on the age of your child and how much he/she needs as far as quantity for a snack, give your child an appropriate measuring cup (we usually do ¼ cup for snacks) and have them dip it in the mixture and divide their snacks into little baggies. Store in an airtight container in your pantry and they are available to throw in lunch bags, purses, backpacks, or diaper bags at a moment’s notice.
It’s a perfect time to go apple picking, but sometimes a big juicy apple can be a bit much for a tiny mouth. I have found that at our house, only about ½ an apple gets eaten and it lies on the kitchen counter, slowly turning brown. Gross. This is the perfect solution. Using a melon baller, cut out pieces of the apple and stick a toothpick in each. If you want to eat the snack right away, peanut butter or nutella is a fun dip. If you are saving them for later (even the next day!), candy melts (you can find them at most big box stores and many craft stores) is what you’ll want because it hardens up and transports well. Dip each ball into your desired dip and then sprinkle with a topping: crushed graham crackers, sprinkles, mini chocolate chips, whatever suits your fancy. The kids will have a ball helping you with this and it’s a perfect balance between healthy and fun.
Nothing says “Fall” quite like roasted pumpkin seeds, am I right? These are easy to make and one pumpkin yields many little handfuls of the yummy snack. For this method, you’ll want a little over 2 cups of seeds. Wash the seeds and dry them on a baking sheet (we dry ours overnight). Preheat the oven to 250 degrees. In a large bowl, combine a tablespoon of worcestershire, ½ stick of melted butter and a couple healthy shakes of seasoning salt. That’s it. Coat the pumpkin seeds evenly with the mixture and put them on a parchment-paper lined baking sheet and back for 1 ½ to 2 hours (you’ll want to check them after 1 ½ hours and take them out when they are perfectly browned). Like the trail mix, divide them up into individual snack sized bags and they are ready to go.
Another one of my favorite Fall treats is apple sauce. There is no apple product better than sauce you make at home from your own apples. Truth. We add a bit of cinnamon (and obviously sugar) so it’s not as if this is the healthiest of snacks, but it sure beats several packs of fruit snacks or another round of Halloween candy, doesn’t it? Start with 8-10 apples. I use golden delicious, I’m not sure why, but I do. I kind of love them. Peel and chop them up and place them in a heavy pot (I use our le creuset pot, but honestly, anything will do!). Add enough water to just barely cover them. You don’t want too much or your apple sauce will be way too thin and watery. I’m going to be honest about something. I NEVER measure any of these ingredients. You will know as soon as the apples start cooking if it’s too much or not enough. If it’s too much, use a soup ladle to take out what you need (I do this almost every time!). Add between 3 T and 1/4 cup of sugar, depending on how sweet you like it as well as a small palm full (probably between ½ and ¾ T) of cinnamon. Again, dependent on your own taste. Cook it down until the apples are very soft and you can cut them easily just with the edge of a wooden spoon, stirring occasionally. When it’s done, puree it for a super smooth consistency. Mmmm, delightful.
This is a quick and healthy snack that satisfies the sweet tooth without being too much of a dessert. My kids each have their own favorite type of apple. My oldest likes the dark red while my youngest prefers golden delicious. With this treat, anything goes! Take an apple and stand it up on the counter. Pretending it’s a loaf of bread, start slicing it into pieces (about ¼ to ½ inch thick) with the center cut much larger to take out all those seeds. Now, just like a normal sandwich, lay the pieces down on your cutting board and spread your favorite stuff on them! Ours is peanut butter, but nutella, biscoff spread, and even marshmallow fluff can be a good choice. When you put two pieces together, it might ooze out the edges, but this is perfect: roll it in sprinkles or graham cracker crumbs!