Guest Post By Jennifer Landis
When you have little ones running around, they require constant fuel. This means you need to have snacks at the ready at all times. However, between running kids from one extracurricular activity to the next and keeping play dates, you probably don’t have tons of time to shop for nutritious snacks. Stay away from the sugary stuff and keep these items on hand to ensure you always have something healthy to throw in a backpack at a moment’s notice.
Popcorn is one of those versatile snacks you can enjoy lots of different ways — salty or sweet, fresh from the microwave or cheesy from a store-bought bag. It’s also a whole grain, which means it packs lots of fiber, and it’s relatively low in calories. Your youngster could throw back 3 cups of popcorn for less than 100 calories and be on their way to soccer practice in no time.
Cereal can be a tricky snack because some of them are loaded with sugar. If you know what to look for, though, you can find a high-fiber cereal that will serve as a nutritious addition to your family’s diet. Wheat Chex, for example, skips most of the sugar and packs enough fiber to fill you up. Oatmeal is another food that you can whip up quickly and dress up a few different ways, like with a dusting of cinnamon or fresh fruit on top.
- Granola Bars
If you’re constantly on the go, you should definitely have some granola bars on hand. Opt for bars that contain mostly whole grains — think quinoa and oats — with dried fruits and as little added sugar as possible. Any added sugar should be natural, like maple syrup or agave, if at all possible. You can also make your own granola bars at home to avoid any unnecessary extra ingredients and add in items your family loves.
- Trail Mix
Trail mix is somewhat similar to granola bars, but it’s in a form that may be more fun for kids to snack on. Pick up a trail mix at the store that has a balance of dried fruits, nuts and grains — or DIY a batch. Try something that balances salty and sweet, like peanuts with raisins and popcorn. This stuff is shelf-stable, so you won’t have to constantly toss out extras.
- Dark Chocolate
Did you know that dark chocolate actually boasts numerous health benefits? The antioxidants and fat that it contains fuels your mental processes and could even help to fight inflammation in the body. Plus, it’s delicious. Stock up on chocolate as dark as you and your family can stand — the darker it is, the less sugar it contains.
- Dried Fruit
Don’t have time to put together an entire batch of trail mix or granola bars? Then just extract one important component: the fruit. Dried fruits are a bit sweeter than fresh, so you might be able to get picky eaters to try them. Opt for a unique fruit like apricot to vary your family’s diet. Apricots are packed with beta-carotene, just like carrots, so they’re rich in antioxidant power. Portion out handfuls of apricots into bags and hand them out on the way to a practice or pack them for a school snack that’s naturally sweet.
- Almond Butter
Almond butter is another one of those snack foods you can use in a bunch of different ways. Slather it on celery sticks and speckle them with raisins. Coat slices of apple with almond butter. Make mini-sandwiches using whole-wheat crackers. If your family already eats lots of peanut butter, try switching to almond butter since it’s slightly healthier. Unlike peanut butter, almond butter is loaded with vitamin E, a powerful antioxidant that most people don’t get enough of. Don’t let your family fall into that category!
As a parent, it’s important to make sure your kids have all the energy they need to make it through the day. When you fill up your pantry with simple and healthy snacks like these, that won’t be a problem. So it’s time to edit your grocery list and add a few healthy noshes to the mix. Start small with just a few new snacks or stock up on everything from popcorn to almond butter. The improved health and energy of your entire family will make any potential issues with the transition more than worth it.
About the Author
Jennifer Landis is a mother, wife, and the editor of MindfulnessMama.com. She enjoys yoga, green tea, and dark chocolate. Follow her on Twitter @JenniferELandis.