Kick-Off the School Year with Cool Kid-Snacks

By Alana Sugar- Whole Foods Market Blog

Psst…. these are great for adults too.

It’s back-to-school time! Early mornings, hectic schedules, piles of homework and after-school munchies are all on the menu! Let’s face it: Kids function better with a healthy balanced diet, so I say let’s kick off the school year with a healthy resolve: super simple, delicious and truly nutritious kid-snacks!

When it comes to feeding growing children, every bite counts. That means snacks are just as important as a well-balanced meal. But for many kids, the word snack conjures up images of sugary treats, candies, chips and soda – all less than optimal! Take heart, it’s entirely possible to enjoy the convenience of munching foods without all the refined sugar, hydrogenated fats and artificial additives. In the same way that a good healthy meal is well-balanced with proteins, carbohydrates and healthy fats, the same goes for snacks. They should be fun and easy, and not require too much time in the kitchen. Here’s a list of items to keep on hand for building healthy snacks:

•    Fresh fruit
•    Cut-up veggies
•    Favorite salad dressings for dipping
•    Whole grain pita pocket bread, crackers, Graham crackers and all-natural cookies
•    Baked chips or chips cooked in natural, expeller-pressed oils (keep to a minimum!)
•    Real cheese (kids love cheddar, Jack, provolone, and mozzarella)
•    Olives
•    Nuts and seeds
•    Nut, seed and dried fruit bars or trail mix
•    Goji berries and other dried fruits
•    Hummus and Baba Ghanouj
•    Bean dips
•    Organic milk, cream cheese and yogurt
•    Hard boiled eggs
•    Whole grain cereals and low sugar granola

Try these simple ideas for great snacks that will satisfy your desire for “nutritious” and the kids’ desire for “delicious!”

•    Sprinkle toasted sunflower seeds over prepared hummus to give it additional richness and crunch. Serve with raw vegetables and whole grain pretzel dippers.

•    Make a batch of Oat and Date Bars recipe below~.

•    Mix softened cream cheese with plenty of chopped fresh and dried fruit. Spread over whole wheat graham crackers.

•    Stir a little granola into yogurt. Add some sunflower or pumpkin seeds for extra crunch.

•    Lay slices of cheese over apple halves.

•    Keep a fresh fruit salad in the refrigerator. When ready to serve for the kids, sprinkle on a few chocolate chips and some unsweetened coconut flakes.

•    Stuff peanut butter or almond nut butter into celery sticks. Top with raisins before serving.

•    Try some all-natural corn chips with guacamole or bean dip with prepared salsa or salsa fresco and a light sprinkling of cheese.

•    Kids love to dip! So keep cut up celery, carrots, bell peppers and other veggies along with melon balls, apple and pear slices, grapes, bananas and other favorite fruits on hand to cut into chunks. Put out the toothpicks and the dips – savory dips include bean dips, hummus and onion-style dips. Sweet dips for fruit can be as simple as a blending of cream cheese with a little honey or pureed fruit sweetened jam.

Remember: Snacks should be fun and easy, with minimal time invested in making them. With these strategies and a well-stocked healthy pantry, your kids will get just as much instant gratification from healthy, natural snacks as they would from a bag of greasy chips-and parents will get more peace of mind.

Oat-Date Bars

Serves 10

A basic bar recipe that yields ten naturally sweet, filling snacks for a pittance! Made primarily from dates they’re dairy-free and low in fat and sodium, with no added sugar.


2/3 cup chopped pitted dates, divided

1/2 cup water

1 large egg

1 1/4 cups quick-cooking oats

1/2 cup whole wheat flour

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon plus 1/8 teaspoon baking powder

1/8 teaspoon sea salt


Preheat oven to 375°F and grease an 8 x 8-inch baking pan. In a blender, combine 1/3 cup of the dates and water; blend until very smooth. Add egg and blend just until combined. In a medium bowl, combine oats, flour, cinnamon, baking powder and salt and whisk until combined. Add date-and-water mixture and remaining 1/3 cup chopped dates; stir until moistened. ??Scrape into prepared pan, level the top with a spatula, and bake until firm and lightly browned around the edges, about 17 minutes. Cool in the pan and cut into 10 bars. Bars keep in an airtight container for about a week. They can also be individually wrapped and frozen until ready to eat; allow about 2 hours for them to thaw.

Per serving (about 1oz/34g-wt.): 100 calories (15 from fat), 1.5g total fat, 0g saturated fat, 20mg cholesterol, 50mg sodium, 21g total carbohydrate (3g dietary fiber, 8g sugar), 3g protein

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