Regular readers will know that I am no snacking puritan; I think a sugary treat has its place in life (if my kids had their way, that place would be for breakfast, lunch and dinner). Of course, ideally we would all feed our kids sugar-free, homemade healthy treats in between ideally homemade, nutritious meals. But life isn’t like that, is it? We do our best. Also, sometimes, a bit of chocolate or a packet of sweets to share is just want we fancy. But overall, if we were better prepared I think we’d all eat – and snack – better, not just the kids. We could all do with a bit of inspiration for healthy snack ideas. So that’s just what I’m bringing you today, in conjunction with Little Dish, who sent me some really tasty and nutritious snacks to try…
Providing snacks is an essential part of parenting, as children do love to graze. Also (reality check) they seldom clean their plates at sit-down mealtimes, so you do need to keep them going in between. The trick is being prepared for those times when you know the next meal is a while off and they need something to keep their little bodies going, ideally something that will fuel their energy in a way that won’t send them bouncing off the walls one minute and melting down the next.
Sometimes we want the snack to perk them up a bit, if they are flagging and we are about to go out; equally we want the snack to help them to wind down if it’s just before bed. I find that after school for instance, if we are going to give them a more sugary treat, this is the time – when we don’t want them to sleep, and they could do with a little pick me up. And, let’s face it, sometimes we all need chocolate.
The main snacking times for me are as follows:
- Mid morning or mid afternoon
- Straight after school
- Just before bedtime
- A light snacky-lunch at the weekend
- Grab and go snacks as you are heading out the door
Here’s what I suggest for all those situations….
1. Mid morning or mid afternoon – keep them going till lunch / dinner
For me, the main lull that needs to filled with an activity and a snack is about 2.30pm, just before we pick up my son from school. Here was Bea yesterday getting creative on this brilliant, huge ‘colouring in tablecloth’ that Little Dish kindly sent me, along with a few packets of their Go Gos mini oat biscuit snacks to try. Along with a small Hot Chocolate for a little mid afternoon pick me up, she chose the pink packet (Raspberry, Oat and Chia Seed), which were really nice and very much enjoyed by her. They come in handy packets, with each portion containing 4g of sugar. Not bad at all. The ingredients list is seriously impressive. I would be happy to give these to the kids for a wee snack at anytime really.
Here are some other healthy treats that I might give her at this time, to keep her going (and prevent her falling asleep):
- A small portion of cheese, like a Babybel and a box of raisins or some soft apricots.
- Maybe a healthy baked snack, if I have been organised and made something, like my Healthy carrot and banana cakes (below).
- Apples slices with almond with peanut butter on (further below).
2. Straight after school – when ravenous kids need feeding!
I absolutely love it when Artie comes home. Sometimes we might go to someone’s house or someone comes back to ours. But most often it’s just me and them and we can have a snack and watch a movie or play a game. He is ravenous, as I used to be when I got in (I remember eating, like, 6 slices of toast the moment I piled through the door). I need to give him something to keep him going till about 6pm, when we will eat dinner. But it’s really important to me that we don’t oversnack at this time, as if they do they don’t eat their dinner. Also top tip alert – give the snack as soon as they get in – they need at least two hours to get hungry for dinner. This is Artie yesterday, who also helped himself to a packet of Go Gos and got stuck in with the colouring!
On other days I might have given him something like one of these healthier snacks:
- An apple, or piece of fruit.
- A chocolate covered rice cake.
- Of, if I had a home-baked treat in, maybe something like these Chocolate Bran Flapjacks (below).
- As suggested in the The Little Dish Family Cookbook (honestly, one of my favourite collections of family recipes), wholegrain toast with nut butter and sliced banana (above). Serve with a glass of warm milk.
- If they don’t like banana, consider hiding it in a smoothie with almond or normal milk, a handful of oats, and either cocoa nibs or a little cocoa powder. Hey presto, chocolate milkshake!
- Try adding some granola to yoghurt and fruit in layers, like my Sundae with toasted muesli, banana and yoghurt, pictured below. If they don’t like banana, change to blueberries or simply omit the fruit.
Some nice, light, snacky, healthy lunch ideas on these days might be:
- Homemade houmous and toasted pitta chips (again, from the fab Little Dish cook book). Pictured above.
- That week I might’ve cooked some homemade soup, like this Butternut squash sweet potato and ginger soup, below, which the kids just LOVE. Omit chilli sauce for them, obviously.
- Some Stuffed jacket potatoes, further below, which sound faffier than they are. Especially if you already have some ready baked jackets cold in the fridge, which we sometimes do.
5. Grab and go snacks – for when you are heading out the door and into the car
Key thing to keep in mind here is that they will be eating in the back seat of the car. So unless you want food all over your backseat (we’ve all been there!) then choose portable, no-mess snacks for this scenario.
- A shop bought packet of healthier biscuits like Go Gos, above.
- Box of raisins.
- A tupperware tub with lengthwise halved (safer this way) grapes in.
- A shop bought, low sugar yoghurt in a tube – simply tear off lid before you set off.
- A healthier fairy cake such as the one in the video below.