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Healthy Back-to-School Snacks

Wednesday, September 12th, 2018
healthy snacks like pistachios

Whether they are packed in a lunchbox or easy to grab when kids get home from school, stocking your kitchen with healthy snacks for kids can turn an unhealthy afternoon treat into something good for their growing brains and bodies.

During this crucial time of development, kids require lean sources of protein like eggs, complex carbohydrates like oats, and sources of healthy fats. Other nutrients to include in healthy snacks for kids are calcium for building bones, fiber to keep them full, iron and vitamins A, C and D to nourish their growing bodies. Beyond just food, drinking enough water is also key to making sure they are energized throughout the day.

Here are 10 healthy snack ideas to keep your kids going –

1) Smoothies

Smoothies are the perfect option, especially when it’s hot outside or after a sweaty play session. Choose liquids with low or no added sugar. Milk or unsweetened nondairy milk add creaminess without added sugar. To build a power smoothie, add fruits and vegetables, kefir or yogurt, and a source of healthy fats (including chia seeds, flax or nut butter). You can also add whole grains, like oats, to the mix for extra nutrition. Beyond just filling kids up with the good stuff, smoothies also hydrate and provide a crucial boost of energy.

2) Cheese

String cheese and cheese cubes make great protein-packed finger foods for all ages! Cheese is rich in protein and calcium, key nutrients that help muscles and bones grow bigger and stronger at a time when children need these nutrients the most. Opt for full-fat or 2% cheese to help the kiddos feel more satisfied at snack time.

3) Trail Mix

Mix together their favorite nuts, such as pistachios, almonds or walnuts, some dried fruits (watch the added sugar) such as raisins, cherries, strawberries, apricots, etc. Consider adding some low-sugar, whole-grain cereal and some seeds such as pumpkin, or sunflower. This is an easy, power-packed snack that’s easy to take on-the-go.

4) Hummus

Carrots, celery, cucumbers, sweet peppers, broccoli and whole-grain pita bread with hummus for dipping is an easy-to-pack snack for all age groups. Cruciferous vegetables, which include broccoli and cauliflower, are rich in vitamins and disease-fighting phytonutrients. Tahini (crushed sesame seeds), an ingredient in hummus, provides healthy fats, while whole-grain pita bread and vegetables supply satisfying fiber to keep kids fuller longer.

5) Freeze Dried Produce

If raw fruits and vegetables just won’t cut it all the time, freeze-dried produce is a great snacking alternative that doesn’t (usually) contain added sugar. Dehydrated broccoli, edamame, okra, beets and kale are a great place to start to get your kiddos to load up on vegetables. Freeze-dried raspberries, blueberries, apples, bananas, peaches and other fruits are tasty for the kids and full of antioxidants too. New to freeze-dried produce? Trader Joe’s, Whole Foods and Target have a great selection. Dried fruit is also rich in fiber and can help with keeping kids regular; just make sure to choose ones without added sugar.

6) Whole-Grain Muffins

Making muffins from scratch is an easy way to ensure a whole-grain, veggie-filled option that you can store for eating all week long. Add shredded zucchini, carrots, pureed sweet potatoes or fresh fruit to your mix to pack these snacks full of antioxidants and fiber. Add in some pistachios for a protein kick. Have kids top warm muffins with their favorite nut butter to amp up the nutrients even more.

7) Hard Boiled Eggs

Create a protein-packed snack in just minutes by boiling eggs. Simply sprinkle with salt and pepper. Beyond protein, eggs are an excellent source of choline, which is crucial for proper brain development, as well as nervous system and muscle function.

8) Nut Butters

Whether they prefer peanut, sunflower, almond, pistachio or others, nut butters are an excellent source of kid-friendly healthy fats. Smear their favorite spread on apple slices, blend it into a smoothie, or combine it with Greek yogurt for a tasty dip for fruit.

9) Frozen Fruit Pops

Want a treat that will get the kids excited? Try serving them frozen fruit pops at snack time! Choose treats made with 100 percent fruit and fruit juices to keep added sugars to a minimum. Or, just make your own and get the kids to help! Yogurt squeezes found in the dairy aisle can be frozen into a tasty, protein-rich snack the kids will love. Fruit pops also help with hydration and cool our bodies down during the hottest months.

10) Yogurt Parfaits

Start with plain Greek yogurt, top with blueberries, raspberries, blackberries or strawberries, some nutty whole grain granola and drizzle with a little honey, for a protein packed treat full of antioxidants that your kiddos will think is as good as ice cream.

Heart of the Desert is a working pistachio ranch and vineyard with four retail establishments in New Mexico. They are best known for their farm fresh pistachios and Award-Winning New Mexico wines. Each store offers wine and pistachio tastings. They offer worldwide shipping and produce attractive gourmet baskets that make great corporate and family gifts. The main store, on the ranch in Alamogordo, offers farm tours that showcases how pistachios are grown and processed as well as a stunning Tuscany themed patio that overlooks the groves and is available for weddings, private parties or enjoying a relaxing glass of wine.