Our Favourite Healthy Snacks for Kids

With the kids heading back to school it's time to put your thinking caps on and find some healthy snacks to pack in their backpacks.

Delicious and healthy

With the onset of the new school year, we're looking at the kinds of snacks we pack in our children's school bag.

We know that 30% of children between the ages of two and 15 are classified as obese, and campaigns like Change4Life are always telling us that the kinds of foods we are feeding our children are contributing to the 21,000 children aged 5 to 19 who are treated in hospital for weight related issues every year.

And these incidences don't include children who are anorexic and bulimic. As parents, we need to find a balance between good taste and building a healthy relationship between our children and food.

It's important to remember that regardless of what we are feeding our children there are a few questions you need to ask yourself before you decide what to offer them, especially as children eat at least one or two snacks every day.

Snacking can be healthy

Are they getting their 5 a day?

How many fruits and vegetables are included in your child's diet? To get an idea of what counts as one of your five a day, the NHS has put together a set of guidelines.

How many calories do their growing bodies need?

As your child grows they will need different amounts of fuel in order to help their body grow. Makes sure you have an idea of what your child needs so you know they aren't eating too much or too little.

How much sugar is in this?

As adults we often read labels and look at whats in the product we are consuming, refined sugar may give your child a boost of energy but the low that follows the high can be much bigger.

Make sure you keep an eye on how much refined sugar your child is eating.

What's the purpose of the snack?

We all eat snacks for different reasons, sometimes it's because we're hungry, need energy or because we are bored! Choosing a snack that is appropriate to your child's need at the time can also help to keep them going!

Examples of when your children snack

If they are about to play sports you'll want to give them something with protein and carbs like peanut butter and crackers.

If they are tired mid-afternoon, the natural sugars in fruit can give them the energy they need to get to the end of the day, before they eat a balanced dinner.

If they are hungry, you want to give them something more filling like a banana, or a home-made flapjack (so you can control the sugar).

If they are bored, celery sticks are a great snack as they take longer to chew and often satisfy a need without adding much to their food intake.

If your child is often snacking because they are hungry, look at how much and what kind of food they are getting at meal times and consider what needs adjusting.

If your child is eating because they are bored, there may be something more deeply rooted and it's worth trying to get to the bottom of the real reason they are snacking.

Having a set time for snacks, i.e. after school or at 11am helps children manage their snack cravings as they become used to waiting till snack time to indulge.

Healthy snacks for children

Making snacks yourself is the best way to know what's in them. When you buy a snack in the shop there are often ingredients that you don't know, and probably don't want to!

We've gathered together some of our favourite snack foods for kids. Let us know what you make for your children.

Trail mix for kids

Here's some of the things we include in trail mix:

  • Whole grain cereals
  • Peanuts
  • Cashews
  • Almonds
  • Sunflower seeds
  • Pumpkin seeds
  • Raisins
  • Dried fruits (such as apricots, apples, pineapple, or cranberries)

Rice cakes

Rice cakes on their own can be pretty bland, but add a thin layer of peanut butter, or soft cheese and these can be transformed into a tasty treat!

If you want to add some real kick to your soft cheese, try freshly ground pepper for a little zing.

Home made flap jacks for kids

  • 3 cups muesli or oats
  • 1 cup chopped dried fruit (you can mix and match the fruit depending on what your children are partial to eating)
  • 1/3 cup shredded coconut
  • 125 g butter
  • 1/3 cup honey or agave syrup
  • 1/3 cup peanut butter (if your child has nut allergies you can substitute this with condensed milk as it will help bind the bars together)
  • 1/2 cup firmly packed brown sugar (this can be left out or used in smaller quantities if you are watching sugar intake)
  1. Grease or line a 3cm-deep, 16cm x 26cm (base) slice pan.
  2. Combine muesli, dried fruit and coconut in a large bowl.
  3. Place butter, honey, peanut butter and sugar in a saucepan over medium heat, stirring for 4 to 5 minutes or until the mixture has thickened. Add to muesli mixture and stir to combine.
  4. Press the mixture into prepared pan. Smooth top. Cover. Refrigerate overnight or until set. Cut into 12 bars. Serve.

Exciting celery sticks

Fill celery sticks with different tasty ingredients for a twist on a classic vegetable.

  • Avocado (mashed)
  • Peanut butter and raisins
  • Soft Cheese
  • Hummus
  • Egg Salad (hard boiled egg mashed with a small amount of mayo to hold it together)
  1. Cut celery sticks into piece approx 3-4 inches long.
  2. Take your topping and fill the crevice.
  3. Enjoy!

Apple and sultana quesadillas

  • 2 wholegrain tortillas
  • 1 tablespoon extra-light spreadable cream cheese
  • 1/2 cup apple slices
  • 1 tablespoon sultanas
  • Pinch ground cinnamon
  1. Preheat a frying pan. Place tortillas on a flat surface. Spread one side of each tortilla with cream cheese. Place apple, sultanas and cinnamon along one 1/2 of each tortilla. Place in the fry pan until the tortilla is toasted.
  2. Fold the tortilla in half and cut into triangles.

Note If you want to send them as a snack for school these can be served cold as well.