Snack Series

Snack Series

May 19, 2006
Healthy Foods Newsletter
by Leanne Ely, C.N.C

It’s nearly that time of year. School will be out shortly and they’re coming home. They’re already whining and (surprise!), they’re constantly hungry. So what’s a mom to do?

Feed ‘em!

Kids need snacks, but not constant grazing. You need to make sure the snacks are healthy and are going to do them some good, nutritionally. Just giving them the junk that they clamor for from watching too much TV is going to keep them eating continually. It makes sense, if you think about it. When your children (or you for that matter) don’t get the nutrition necessary, their bodies are still craving those nutrients and will keep signaling that it’s time to eat-even after downing a bag of Doritos and drinking a whole liter of Pepsi. They might be temporarily full-but never satisfied because the body was never fed. See why good nutrition is so important?

So let’s get a grip on this summertime food issue. Not having a plan (as we well know!) is a recipe for disaster. You know how to make a grocery list-how about adding some of these items on your list this week?

Veggie Ranch. I think my son will eat anything with ranch dressing on it. It’s not my very favorite thing in the world nutritionally, but if you blend it up with some non-fat cottage, you’ve got a fairly decent dip. Add baby carrots, celery sticks, broccoli flowerettes and even some cherry tomatoes and you have a veggie platter they’ll love. Keep your ready-to-go veggies (separated in big plastic zip-top bags) and dip (in a container) within easy reach and let that be your first answer when they ask. Remind your children to pour their dip into their own bowls-you just KNOW they’re going to double dip!

Favor Fruit. Summer is fruit season. Snip some grapes from the bunch and they have a great snack to go. A banana is a season-less fruit and easy to grab, too. Watermelon is perfect this time of year with the heat and everything-why not have it sliced up and cold in the fridge, ready to go? Ditto that idea with any melon. You might even make up a fruit salad of honeydew and cantaloupe. My troops love this treat and grab the plastic bowl and help themselves when it’s in the fridge. And don’t forget the perennial favorite: apple slices dipped in peanut butter.

Pop up. I am a huge fan of popcorn. Lots of roughage (like your grandma used to say) and a fun snack that won’t take major bites out of your budget, too. Use an air popper (way cheaper than the microwave kind and none of those nasty hydrogenated fats either) and add a teeny bit of butter. We also add a little grated romano cheese. My kids love this!

Nuts to you. I keep raw almonds in the fridge and will mix some almonds with dried apricots. Talk about your fiber count -yee haw! Plus the added bonus of all those nutrients. Great snack for kids and adults alike!

Cheese Whiz! Not that icky stuff you squirt out on a cracker. But string cheese and cheddar cubes, for starters. Skip American cheese-it’s cheese “product”. That should be enough to scare you away!

There you are– five easy snacks and enough ammo to keep the whining at bay. At least for a week or so! Next week, there will be more, so clip these out, put them on the fridge and don’t forget to add this stuff to your grocery list!


These snack ideas came in from moms’ tried and true snacks that are healthy and keep kids (and adults!) happy. Try these out for yourself and see what you think:

Here’s the list:

1. Our favorite is celery sticks with peanut butter. Put a few raisins on top and you have “ants on a log”

2. I am one of those moms always in the dilemma of looking for healthy food that the kids will eat and like! Here are a few my two enjoy (besides some of the ones you already mentioned):

3. Yogurt

4. Popsicles or jello made with fruit juice (Vitamin C & Calcium fortified)

5. Bananas with peanut butter (this actually makes a pretty good meal!)

6. Homemade quick bread/muffins – I always use at least half whole wheat flour, and try to sneak in some other good-for-you ingredients like wheat germ, flax seed meal, etc.

7.  I found the best microwave popper at the grocery store. It is basically a bowl with a slightly raised lid. Just scoop the popcorn in and put in the microwave. No oil or anything. It works better than stand alone air poppers since it can go directly in the dishwasher. We spray some “I can’t believe it’s not butter” on it or sprinkle with mozzarella cheese and good to go. My main thing was to mention the popper though – we found ours at Krogers.

8.  my son loves homemade granola bars and even brags to his friends about how good they are. I use the recipe from Quaker oats (on the box). Quaker has lots of granola recipes at and just use the keyword granola.

We add dried cranberries, dried cherries, raisins, and chocolate chips. His teacher even asked for the recipe! The other snack I bake a lot is banana bread, from scratch, not a mix. Applesauce can replace the butter.

9. This homemade microwave popcorn is easy for those that don’t have an air popper.

1/4 cup popcorn kernels
1 lunch-size brown paper bag
1 piece of tape
1/4 teaspoon salt (if desired)
1 tablespoon butter (if desired)

Put popcorn in the bag. Fold the top over twice and secure with tape. Microwave for 2-5 minutes on high, until you hear the kernels finish popping. Transfer to a large bowl and drizzle with melted butter. Stir well. Add salt.

10. Cube an eating apple, add some blueberries and lightly sprinkle with cinnamon. Stir to mix the cinnamon. That’s it! You just can’t believe how good this is.

11. Hummus and pita bread, or veggies. You can make your own hummus, but many packaged brands are available and some are tasty and healthy. Kids love to dip things!

12. Cold pasta. Twists, bow ties, etc. Use whole wheat pasta, toss it with a little extra virgin olive oil and even some grated parmesan cheese and take it along in zip lock baggies.

13. I keep two small storage containers in the back of my mini van. One contains snacks for the kids, like above, that don’t melt or spoil. I also keep sports drink pouches (in the summer) and fruit juice boxes in the winter (they freeze well). The other contains snacks that I can eat, like dried fruit and nuts, lo-carb/protein bars and drinks (for when I’m too busy to eat) and bottles of water. I always keep a bunch of water bottles in the front area, under a seat, so my children and their friends have water at all times. You could also keep a container with baby wipes, paper towels, trash bags, 1st aid kit, extra socks and mittens in the winter and sunscreen, bug spray, and hats in the summer, but that is another topic.

14. Spread cream cheese with a variety of toppings (Ham & cucumbers. Salsa and shredded cheddar, etc…) on a whole wheat tortilla and either eat it like a rolled sandwich – or slice into “appetizer” bite-sizes

Thanks for your great ideas for summer snacks. I have three kids and two are on a major growth spurt – our household is a constant feeding machine!!!!

15. Homemade popsicles – the investment for the plastic do-it-yourself ones is well worth it. I have three sets so at least one set is always be in the freezer. Any 100% juice or combination of two works well. Or try bananas blended with yogurt or orange juice. Yogurt with unsweetened crushed pineapple is good too (no need to drain). You get the idea, use your imagination here!


Here are some more healthy snack ideas; my comments are in parenthesis:

1.  How about a yummy yogurt sundae, yogurt with strawberries on top and a little granola to top it off!

2.  I buy grapes when they are on sale, wash and pick from the stems put them in the snack size bags and pile them in big ol’ freezer bags. They last at least a month as we pile through them in the heat and are much better than those frozen tubes of colored sugar water! Fiber included

3. Fruit dip: Make yogurt cheese by taking 1 cup of plain or vanilla yogurt and placing it in a strainer, lined with a paper towel or coffee filter, over a bowl for drainage. Refrigerate for several hours and discard the whey (watery stuff) that collects in the bowl. You’ll be left with the yogurt cheese, which is about the consistency of thick sour cream. Put the yogurt cheese in a small bowl and add 1/2 cup powdered sugar, 2-3 tablespoons low-fat or fat-free cream cheese, 1 teaspoon vanilla and blend with a mixer until blended. Add more powdered sugar to thicken, if needed. Use this yummy dip with fruit. We like grapes, pineapple, strawberries and bananas. (or use honey to sweeten)

4.  Monkey sandwich-a hot dog bun spread with peanut butter with banana (use whole wheat buns)

5.Peanut Butter (health-food store natural, no sugar) on a mini or regular rice cake with raisins on top instead of jam/jelly (a little extra iron and fiber)

6.  My kids will eat almost any veggie as long as it is grated and mixed into mini muffins. Carrots, zucchini and broccoli just to name a few. Don’t forget to use applesauce instead of oil!!! (I use half oil and half applesauce-less “bouncy”of a muffin and moister)

7.  I have enjoyed using your week of meals. Thank you for your work. I do the Ranch Dip with veggies. I wish there was not any MSG.

8.  One more idea: protein. Hard-boiled eggs, sunflower seeds, and soy nuts go over well here.

9.  One of our favorite snacks is air-popped popcorn with a fresh lemon juice squeezed over it, and sprinkled with hot sauce (like Tabasco). Much better than those “flaming-hot” things in a bag, and no added fat or sodium!

10.  Tofu cut in cubes, toss with olive oil and tamari and bake for 15 minutes turning once.


Need even MORE snacks? Here you go-once again, my comments in parenthesis.

1.  I mix one part vanilla yogurt and one part peanut butter for apple dipping with a dash of cinnamon. Less sticky than if it was just the peanut butter and it breaks the monotony!

2.  I get cheap bamboo skewers from the dollar store and we make fruit kabobs with banana, melon, and grapes and pop them into the freezer on wax paper covered trays. In a few hours the kids have a sweet and cool treat that’s super healthy too! (use your motherly wisdom and judgment with kids and skewers)

3.  The favorite snack around my house is a bean burrito sprinkled with cheddar cheese. If you make them on the taco-sized tortilla, they are the perfect snack size and really fills them up!

4.  My daughter loves to eat frozen corn — FROZEN. Doesn’t like it any other way, but will eat it straight from the freezer, in small batches so it doesn’t melt before she eats it! (Too bad her brothers don’t like it, too!)

5.  Make homemade waffles and freeze extras. You can put them in the toaster, and spread with applesauce or peanut butter as a snack. (and make sure the waffles are whole grain!)

6.  parboil (not boil) okra, then run cold water over it and it is not slimy. Serve it with soy sauce and lemon juice. Everyone loves it, and it is great finger food.

7.  I often have fruit (usually grapes and apples) with cheddar or pepper Jack cheese (my favorite). This is Monterey Jack cheese with finely chopped jalapenos added. Yum! On the fruit idea, you can’t top fresh pineapple. It beats canned pineapple hands down. Slicing off the prickly outside is well worth it to get to juicy, sweet stuff on the inside!

8.  My suggestion is sort of a spin on fruit salad: Put some bite size pieces of fruit (or veggies, cheese, whatever they like that is healthy) into an ice cream cone. Put some together for the walk to the park and you don’t have to worry about carrying and keeping track of containers, or looking for a trash can for garbage. (don’t you wish they had whole wheat ice cream cones?)

9. Roasted chickpeas!
3 cups of cooked chickpeas (ones you cook yourself are better because there’s no salt)
3 T of olive oil
salt, to taste

Combine in a baking pan that is big enough so that the chickpeas make only one layer. Roast in a 425 degree oven for 20 minutes, or until brown. Cool and eat! They are delicious, crunchy and soft at the same time. And very healthy.

10. I have found that if you let them choose and help make the snack, they are more willing to eat it. My kids like the raw veggies with Ranch dip too. In fact they like to “dip” everything! So, we like to be creative and come up with some dips of our own. They can really have some weird ideas, but if it gets them to eat nutritiously, I’m all for it.


This is it! If you missed the other 4 parts, click on the links above to read parts 1-4:

Please don’t email me telling me that all children can’t eat nuts, etc. or that younger children can’t eat certain foods. Use your motherly discretion and wisdom when using these snacks. If you’re unsure about the safety or appropriateness of a food, instead of emailing me, please contact your healthcare provider and don’t serve it until you have an answer from him/her.

1.  Here in sunny Florida one of our favorite summer treats is a frozen orange juice slush. Just add ice to orange juice and blend in the blender. The kids love these and it is a healthy version of the Slurpee they are craving throughout the summer. We also make fruit kabobs and store them in the refrigerator. This gives the children something to help with in the kitchen and provides a great snack and dessert for the summer. I find that the neighborhood kids love them as they are a change of pace from the slice or bowl of just one fruit.

2.  Let the kids eat their snacks with toothpicks! My son always loved to do this when he was little. I always kept the trays that come with cookies that have at least 3 sections and washed them out and used these for snacks. I would fill the 3 sections with different finger foods like raisins, marshmallows, grapes, banana slices, apple chunks, etc. and give him a toothpick. He ate his snack at his play table while I did chores in the kitchen and talked to him. I noticed he would eat snacks with the toothpicks that he did not normally want to try. Sometimes I filled one of the sections with peanut butter and he dipped his fruit into that.

3. My DS is on a special diet that eliminates some natural foods and artificial dyes and flavorings. Sometimes it is a challenge to find “approved” foods that he likes that are good for snacking. I have also found that if I don’t make sure he gets protein snacks he can get very cranky. I’m the same way. Here are some of our favorite protein snacks:

Cream cheese dip – slightly warm cream cheese in the microwave. Whip in a little milk to keep it soft. I have a tiny little whisk that works great. Add spices and herbs your child likes. Mine wants garlic powder, onion powder, and cumin – kind of a Mexican dip. Use this dip for tortilla chips, crackers, pretzels and veggies.

Meat sticks – my 10 yr. old LOVES the meat sticks for babies as a snack. We buy Gerber meat sticks. They are like tiny little hotdogs with a soft texture. Great protein snack!

Meat – leftover meat, cut up into finger sized pieces. Whenever I have a meat dish (like a roast beef or chicken), I cut up the remaining meat and store in the fridge. We just eat it with our fingers, sometimes we add a favorite creamy salad dressing or some kind of sauce for flavor.

Nuts – keep a jar or can of nuts available. I like to mix a few different kinds together for variety. We put a small handful in a tiny bowl and that’s a serving.

4.  I always keep a big plastic bowl on the counter filled with apples and my kids (4 & 7) can help themselves whenever they want “a little something”. This is they way I grew up and I thought everybody did this.

A couple of years ago, when Hurricane Floyd threatened Jacksonville, FL, my sister-in-law evacuated to our house (on the other coast) with her 3 kids. Her kids almost immediately found the apple bowl and spent the next two days happily munching on apples. She was amazed because her kids never ate apples at home! I remember her telling me that maybe it was because she kept them in the drawer of the fridge. When we went to her house for Thanksgiving that year, I noticed a large plastic bowl on the counter filled with apples!

5.  My young daughters say “a spoonful of peanut butter keeps the whinys away!” Even at their age, they know when their blood sugar starts dipping and that’s when they will ask for a block of cheese or a “peanut butter popsicle”…literally a scoop of peanut butter on the spoon. Add those little baby carrots and some celery sticks to those apples and peanut butter–even veggie haters might like them.

6.  We like to put nutritional yeast on our popcorn. It has a very interesting, almost cheesy taste, and is high in protein and B vitamins. Also with a little butter, salt, and my favorite, curry powder! That is, if your kids (or you, for that matter!) like it spicy! Mine does! (nutritional yeast is also known as brewer’s yeast and is available in health food stores)

7. Use a muffin tin for younger children. In one “muffin hole” goes yogurt and cottage cheese, mostly for dipping. Sometimes she just eats it with a spoon but who cares. In the other “muffin holes” go little pieces of fruit, cooked veggies like little pieces of broccoli, cheese, leftover meat, cooked pasta, or dry cereal, or I guess you could do peanut butter and crackers, etc. The tin sits inside the fridge, where she can reach it. The only rules are she must sit at the table, and nothing else is available. This way she makes a choice about what on the tin to eat, but of course, it is all healthy. (I do fill the empty holes sometimes with more of what was her favorite)

8. Soymilk! Yum! We can make our own fudgesicles (sp) out of Silk Chocolate Soymilk. Before widespread distribution of soymilk, I used to eat whole grain organic cereal flakes with fruit juice. It’s nice to have the option to use vanilla soymilk now.

9. Peanut Butter Mud is another good snack. Use 2 parts peanut butter –the natural kind–2 parts non-instant milk powder and 1 part honey. Mix it all together, and roll into balls, or a log, or just eat it out of the bowl!

10. I like to serve edamame (soybeans) for snacks. My daughter loves to pop them in her mouth and they’re very nutritious. I buy them frozen and cook only a small amount at a time in boiling salted water. Also, try frozen peas as a snack. They love them frozen – no need to cook.

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