My name is Lisa Tsakos, Registered Holistic Nutritional Consultant, corporate speaker and author. This blog provides professional advice from a nutrition and weight loss expert (me!) about corporate and family health. Here you'll find recipes and articles that address work-related challenges like eating on-the-go and maximizing your productivity with the right foods. You'll also find out about how you can help your children develop strong immune systems and healthy bodies. As a nutrition instructor, I often found myself thinking, "When I have kids, this is how I will feed them." With two toddlers, I have the opportunity to practice what I have been preaching and to try out my theories. So far, they seem to be working! Follow me on my journey and also on Twitter @NuVitalityHW.

23 Mar 2014

Healthy snacks for kids

Kids l-o-v-e to snack. Especially my kids. They ask for snacks from morning to night. The other night, Olivia asked for a snack in the middle of dinner! So, I'm always on the lookout for new healthy products and ideas for great snacks to have on hand at home and for when we're out. 

Parents often ask me for healthy snack suggestions for their picky toddlers and children. They want to know what I buy, what's in my kitchen cupboards. Since co-writing Unjunk Your Junk Food with my pals, Andrea from Naturally Savvy and Randy from The Healthy Shopper, I do a lot of label reading at the grocery store and am surprised (shocked sometimes) by the artificial ingredients added to children's food and snacks, namely artificial colours. All those red, blue, green, yellow and pink candies, swirled yogurts, rainbow coloured ice cream - they're made from petroleum-derived dyes that have been linked to behavioural problems, allergic reactions, rashes and more. Even without their track record, they're chemicals, and chemicals are not welcome in our bodies.

Having struggled with my weight throughout my early years, it's important to me that my kids have a healthy relationship with food, mainly so that they can make choices based on how they feel rather than what tastes good. To that end, there are two words I absolutely refuse to use: treats and dessert. Kids should not view food of any kind (read: junk food) as a reward. The word 'treat' implies reward, and dessert follows a meal - a pattern I don't care to establish in our home. Plus, one of my tenets of healthy weight management is nothing sweet late in the day, and especially after dinner. If the kids ask for a cookie, they are welcome to it anytime before 5 p.m. Any later than that and they won't burn it off (plus, it's likely to delay their bedtime).

Snacking at home is easy. Outside the home - that's a whole other ballgame. At home the kids love to snack on these:
  • Fresh fruit - any (fresh berries, sliced or diced apple, pear, banana, cantaloupe, orange, watermelon, papaya, mango, etc.)
  • Hummus with raw or steamed baby carrots, cucumber rounds or other sliced veggies
  • Slices of pear or apple topped with SunButter*, almond butter or other nut butter
  • Organic Plain or Vanilla yogurt - plain or topped with berries
  • Organic Greek yogurt - plain or topped with berries
  • Cubed goat mozzarella, cherry tomatoes, cucumber rounds
  • Gluten-free crackers dipped in hummus, SunButter or nut butter  
  • Lightly steamed baby carrots.  
* SunButter is made with sunflower seeds and is nut-free.

Below are some of the on-the-go snacks I buy for my kids. Find a printable list here.

  •  ShaSha Co. Ginger Snaps - Spelt. These delicious cookies aren't gluten-free but they contain a different form of gliadin, the type of gluten found in wheat, rye and barley. If you have serious gluten-related health issues, avoid spelt.
  • Annie’s Gluten-Free Cocoa & Vanilla Bunny Cookies
  • Enjoy Life Snickerdoodles (Gluten-Free)
  • Homemade Banana-Coconut-Oatmeal Chocolate Chip cookies 
  • Kinnikinnick Chocolate KinniKritter Animal Cookies (gluten-free)
  • PC Organics Animal Cookies for Toddlers (not gluten-free)

Individually Packaged Snacks:
  • Happy Squeeze Twist (organic) or other strained organic fruit & veggie squeeze pouch
  • Nature’s Path Envirokidz bars (gluten-free) 
  • ShaSha Buckwheat Snacks (higher in protein than most other snacks)
  • Barbara’s Snackimals (cookies packaged for on-the-go)
  • Organic Applesauce (don't forget to pack a spoon!)
  • PC Organics Fruit Snacks (Strawberry Mango, Blueberry Pomegranate) - organic fruit leather
  • PC Organics Orange Mango Sweet Potato Naturally Flavoured Fruit and Vegetable Snack 
  • Jennie’s Coconut Macaroons - deliciously filling, gluten-free, and individually wrapped 

    • Mary's Gone Crackers, Organic Gluten-Free 
    • Nabisco Rice Thins, Unflavoured (gluten-free)
    • Lentil Chips from Mediterranean Snacks (boxed but also available in snack sized packs)

    Salty Snacks:
    • Beanitos Original (The Original Bean Snacks)
    • Snap Pea Crisps
    • Chia Crisps (Lesser Evil brand)
    • Neal Brothers Foods Extremely Tasty Tortillas (100% organic nacho chips)
    • Popcorn – Skinny Pop Popcorn or other GMO-free or organic popcorn
    • Plain organic potato chips  

    Juice Boxes:
    • Kiju Organic Orange-Mango
    • PC Organics Apple or White Grape Juice and water blend (blended with 50% water to reduce the sugar) 

    Candy & Chocolate:
    • YumEarth Organic Pops (the best tasting but most expensive lollipops you'll ever try)
    • YumEarth Organic Fruit Snacks
    • YumEarth Organic Gummy Bears
    • YumEarth Organic Sour Beans
    • Smarties (no artificial colours or flavours)
    • Dark chocolate (70%)

    My own hunt for healthy, tasty snacks - and especially snacks that are not all carbs - is ongoing, so if you have any great finds or suggestions, please comment below. I'll continue to add to this list, so check back soon for new ideas!

    Happy snacking! 

    For more information about healthy eating choices for kids, download the free e-book, Label Lessons: Unjunk Your Kids Lunch Box or check out the book, Unjunk Your Junk Food.


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