Healthy snacks are important to have around the house for children. The challenge is to have them available when they want something and to have a few different options. Children change their minds all the time, one day they love something and the next day they are not interested in it so it's important to have options. I keep a running list of healthy snack ideas in a word file on my computer so when I am planning my menu and my shopping I can get some ideas. I find that kids go through phases with food. Months ago my daughter loved hummus and then one day she decided she didn't want to eat it anymore. A few more months passed and one afternoon I asked her if she wanted hummus and she loved it again. This is exactly why I keep the list.
One of the new snack time hits in my house is nuts and dried fruit. This is one of my personal favorite afternoon pick me ups and I have been mixing my own trail mix for years. It is cheaper to buy the items individually and mix your own trail mix rather then buying it pre-made. Also, it allows you to control exactly what goes into your mix which is great for children. They can pick the things that they like, mix them all together and make it fun. Kids are much more likely to eat something if they took part it creating it.
How to make this a fun project for kids:
Supplies needed: Nuts, dried fruit, container for finished mix (I use mason jars), labels, stickers or markers (optional)
Buy an assortment of bagged nuts, seeds, dried fruits and chocolate chips (this can be left out for children). I get a lot of these from Trader Joe's because the prices are pretty good (not all are organic and raw though). There are some good deals online as well, here are some of my favorites:
- Navitas Naturals Really Raw Cashews
- Live Superfoods Unpasteurized Organic Almonds
- Made In Nature Organic Cranberries
- Woodstock Farms Organic Thompson Raisins
- Dagoba Organic Chocolate Chips
- Give each child their own jar and have them attach a label with their name on it. Have them decorate the jar with stickers or markers and make it their own.
- Arrange a few small bowls with all the different choices for the trail mix in them on a table.
- Have them pick a few choices from the bowls and fill their jars with their favorite nuts and fruits. Leave a little space at the top so that they can shake the jar and mix up the trail mix.
Making healthy snacks a fun project will make it more likely that kids will try it. For younger children and toddlers you can just hand them a few things and let them throw it into the jar. My daughter is 21 months and loves to help me when I make things. I hand her frozen strawberries and she throws it into the blender for a smoothie or I let her hold a measuring cup as I fill it up with something and she dumps it into the bowl. She has a great time with it even though its so simple.
If you are just going to make these trail mixes on your own without making it a kids project its great to mix up a few different assortments and have them on hand for snacks for yourself and the kids. My favorite mix is raw cashews, raw almonds, raw walnuts, dark chocolate chips, and dried cranberries.