13 Healthy Snack Alternatives

We sometimes think of snacking as indulgent or bad, but it doesn’t have to be. In fact, many dietary experts recommend a higher number of small meals each day over the traditional three large ones. Snacks are only negative when we choose sugary, unhealthy foods. You can keep lots of fun and tasty healthy snack alternatives in the kitchen for your family without worrying about the nutritional downside.

Here are a few of our favorites:

1. Fruit. Could anything be easier, sweeter or more refreshing? Pick some favorites from the produce aisle and leave them pre-washed in the fridge, and your kids always have access to some quick energy.

2. Cereal. Consumer Reports has rated a few kid-friendly cereals as low in sugar and highly nutritious (Cheerios™, both regular and Honey Nut, Life™, and Kix™). So free the cereal from its breakfast prison! A bowl with cold milk makes a great anytime snack.

3. Peanut Butter. Yes, it’s calorie-dense, but it’s also very nutrient dense. So this is one of those cases of “good” calories. Kids love it spread on graham crackers, on apple slices or with its favorite sidekick, jelly in the form of a PB & J. Go even healthier by choosing a natural brand free from trans fats and extra sugar.

4. Fruit Smoothies. Store-bought smoothies can be too high in sugar, but you can make your ownwith bananas or strawberries, plain yogurt, low-fat milk and crushed ice or frozen fruit. Blend it up for a slushy treat that’s full of nutrients, antioxidants and protein. Change it up with whatever fruit is in season, and try frozen fruits, as well. For a splash of flavor, add a half teaspoon of vanilla extract.

5. Trail Mix. Keep small bags of trail mix in the pantry for a quick “on the go” snack. The nutrient-rich nuts are satisfying, and the dried fruits and granola give it just enough sweetness to keep kids coming back!

6. Mini Pizzas. With a few English muffins (whole wheat makes them even more nutritious), some pizza sauce and a sprinkle of mozzarella cheese, your kids can create their own little pizzas in the toaster oven in a snap. Add a few mushrooms or veggies to jazz it up.

7. Popcorn. Popcorn just looks fun, doesn’t it? Try air-popping a batch at snack time and adding just a little salt. Without the extra butter and oils, popcorn is a great snack full of fiber and whole grains. Sprinkle with a little garlic powder, cinnamon or other favorite flavor for a little kick.

8. Cheese. Packed with calcium, cheese is a kid favorite. String cheese works great on the go or in a lunchbox, and a grilled cheese sandwich on whole wheat bread is a tasty, warm snack anytime. Avoid processed “cheese food” or other imposters.

9.  Quesadillas. With a whole wheat tortilla, some cheese, mild salsa, and maybe some black beans or pinto beans, your kids can create a tasty treat packed with vitamins, nutrients and fiber. If you like, offer a little light sour cream as a dip or garnish.

10. Eggs. Long relegated to their role as a breakfast food, eggs are making a push to star on the snack time stage. Scramble up an egg or two with some low-fat cheese or veggies for a protein-packed delight. Make them fun by cooking them like this.

11. Hummus. Made from pureed chickpeas, hummus is a nutritious and tasty dip for pita chips, pretzels or veggies. Hummus provides ample folate (which is a B vitamin), iron and vitamin b6.

12. Noodles. The introduction of protein and whole grain enriched pastas to the grocery aisle has made noodles a more nutritious alternative than in the past. You can boil up a batch, toss with olive oil and refrigerate to easily heat up with a little of your kid’s favorite sauce.  If you want pasta packed with protein, make your own.  Really!  This pasta recipe is easy, easy!

13. RollUps. Turkey and cheese is more fun when it’s rolled up in a tortilla and maybe even cut into little pinwheels. Makes a great lunchbox option, too!

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