After a long day of learning, playing, and doing the hard work of being a kid at school, snack time should be a fun, colorful, and delicious break! But tasty doesn’t have to mean super sugary or highly processed foods. Taking cues from flavorful whole foods like fresh veggies and fruits is a good start to keeping kids happy and healthy.
We’ve rounded up some creative snack ideas that are all about making fresh fruits and veggies the hero. With a little planning, these healthy homemade snacks can be super easy to whip up just in time for the kiddos to hop off the bus.
This weekend, stock up on lots of fresh produce at the grocery store or farmer’s market. Get a wide variety of foods that your family already loves, but don’t forget to sneak in something new too.
Keep a small selection of versatile dips and dressings on hand, like Ranch Chia Dressing, Spicy Island Dip, or hummus in all colors of the rainbow (that’s right, just keep reading). Not only do these add great flavor and fun to the snacking experience, but you’re delivering an extra dose of powerhouse nutrients too. We call that a win-win!
Try these simple ideas to get started, then let your imagination run wild.
Eat the (Veggie) Rainbow
Vegetable sticks for dipping are nothing new, but they’re hard to beat. Instead of reinventing the wheel, simply try swapping out the usual suspects (baby carrots and celery) for something new and appealing. Cute and colorful radishes, pint-sized sweet peppers, multicolor cherry tomatoes, and crisp snap peas are all excellent choices for a raw veggie snack.
If your kids aren’t keen on raw vegetables, try steaming or blanching them. Broccoli, cauliflower, asparagus, zucchini, and green beans are very tasty steamed then chilled. Sometimes just taking the raw edge off can do the trick to entice kids to eat more veggies.
Now for the fun part. Turn your regular hummus into a piece of art! Simply blend in different cooked vegetables to transform this nutritious dip into your kids’ favorite colors. More veggies + big wow factor = snack time success! Adding roasted or steamed butternut squash, sweet potatoes, or carrots will turn hummus bright orange. Roasted beets will yield a hummus that is a show-stopping pink. Steamed broccoli, spinach, or peas will give you a bright green version. And roasted red peppers will make for a beautiful ruby red. Like magic!
Try serving these rainbow colored hummus creations with vegetables in a contrasting color to really catch your kid’s eyes. Cucumber rounds and snap peas are beautiful paired with beet hummus, and red bell pepper strips and carrot sticks are the perfect compliment to broccoli hummus. Play around with all sorts of combinations to keep kids excited about what they might see next!
Fun with Fruit Pops
It’s hard to beat a big plate of fresh fruit, but sometimes you need a little extra pizzazz to whet small appetites. Try making miniature ice pops for a sweet treat that’s still healthy and cute as can be. Here are 3 kid-approved combos to get you started:
1. Blended mangoes, bananas, and a little lime juice
2. Coconut or maple water with fresh berries
3. Avocado blended with non-dairy milk, pitted dates, and cocoa powder
After mixing the ingredients, be sure to do a quick taste test so you can sweeten or add a little citrus juice as desired. Freeze the mixture in ice cube trays or small paper cups, cover tightly with plastic wrap, and cut a little slit in the plastic wrap above the center of each pop. Stick skewers or colorful paper straws cut into short pieces into each slit for a handle. Freeze until completely solid. And when your kids are ready for a treat, just run the ice cube tray under warm water until they pop out or peel away the paper cups to reveal the ice pop inside.
You can even make a simple, healthy “magic shell” to drizzle on your popsicles by combining cocoa powder with melted coconut oil and a touch of maple syrup. As soon as the syrup hits the cold ice pops, it hardens into a chocolate shell.
With these fun snacks to kick off September, back-to-school just got even better!
Megan’s abiding passion is culinary arts. Her career in food began on a small farm, transitioned to extensive food and cooking research, and finally led her to working for the iconic cookbook, the Joy of Cooking and with natural food brands across the country in her role at HEART: Creative Culinary Agency.