It's back-to-school season and I've rounded up my favorite simple healthy snack ideas that are easy to prep, nutritious and most importantly - the kids will love them!
Things are a bit out of the ordinary these days, and many of us are spending much more time at home – which means more meal prep and cooking.
While you may be running out of ideas for meals and snacks or it may seem like your kids are bottomless pits (how can they eat SO much and still be hungry?!), this is actually a great time to explore new things in the kitchen and let the kids do some of the work!
That’s where my guide for healthy snacking comes in (and if you missed it – I blogged all about using pantry staples to make delish meals)!
Everyone has different needs and wants when it comes to snacking – and nutrition in general – but I like to follow a "formula" when it comes to simple healthy snack ideas.
A winning snack formula: protein and fiber
While there are many yummy snacks out there, oftentimes they are mostly made up of refined carbohydrates and don’t provide much nourishment (think chips and sugary granola bars).
I grab a high(er) protein food and pair it with something that has at least a few grams of fiber – and bonus if it has some heart-healthy fats as well.
With this combination, snacks can help fill you up and serve a greater nutritional purpose – oh, AND taste super good! Protein is necessary for nearly every process in the human body, can help regulate blood sugar and can help make you feel fuller, longer.
Most people need 0.8 grams of protein per kilogram body weight (for reference, that means a 150 pound/68-kilogram person needs at least 54 grams protein). Fiber also helps you feel fuller, longer because it slows the digestive process.
Additionally, getting enough fiber in your diet can help you maintain healthy cholesterol levels and keep you regular (if you know what I mean). Most adults need 25-35 grams of fiber each day, and don’t consume nearly enough.
Snack time is a great opportunity to boost protein and fiber to help meet those goals!
High(er) protein and high(er) fiber foods
There are oodles of higher protein and higher fiber foods out there, but I’ll get you started with a few ideas for both and some of my favorite combos. When planning healthy snacks, I also like to take into consideration what types of foods I generally crave – most people like something sweet, salty or both.
I’m a sweet and salty kind of girl!
Also keep in mind that some foods have both protein AND fiber and I put a heavy emphasis on getting veggies and fruits into your snack mix because they check the fiber box but are also a great source of many vitamins, minerals and antioxidants.
- Cottage cheese
- Greek yogurt
- Nuts and seeds, nut and seed butters
- String cheese or cheese cubes
- Hard-boiled eggs
- Uncured deli meats
- Canned tuna or tuna in the pouch
- Protein bars
- Hummus (any beans or legumes)
- Nuts and seeds, nut and seed butters
- Whole grain foods, like crackers, breads, tortillas, cereals and muffins
- Granola and granola bars (lower sugar)
Yummy and simple healthy snack ideas and pairings
Keep in mind that the protein and fiber foods list is not all-inclusive – many pre-packaged snacks have protein and fiber as well, so not every snack requires prep (yay)!
Simply read the label to compare similar products and choose the option that suits you best. This will help you find healthy snack ideas you can feel good about!
Here are few winning healthy snack combinations:
- Peanut butter + banana
- Hummus + raw veggies
- Ham and cheese roll-up in a whole wheat tortilla
- Protein bar + raw veggies
- Greek yogurt + berries + granola
- Cottage cheese + pineapple
- Trail mix
- String cheese + apple
- Hard-boiled egg(s) + raw veggies
- Greek yogurt dip + raw veggies
- Peanut butter + whole wheat English muffin
- Higher protein and fiber cereal + milk + berries
My favorite healthy snack recipes
I’ve also compiled some of my favorite snack recipes that are easy, fun and something the kids can help with – at almost any age!
First up are my Crispy Baked Chicken Nuggets with Honey Mustard.
These nuggets have a crispy and crunchy batter and tender and juicy white meat chicken with a 2-ingredient homemade honey mustard sauce made with honey + Dijon mustard.
I mean, who doesn’t love chicken nuggets with a stellar dip?!
Next up is a delicious, easy, homemade snack in a jar! It's Honey Nut Granola!
It's made with oats, almonds, walnuts or pecans, cinnamon, honey and coconut oil and slow-baked to crunchy perfection. Once it's cooled, break it up into big granola clusters and jar or bag it up for the kids (or yourself).
Everyone will LOVE this snack!
Next are my Rainbow Veggie Pinwheels made with a special spread that has broccoli, carrots, Greek yogurt, cream cheese, Dijon mustard and spices.
You could even throw in a dab of horseradish if you want some zing (but totally okay to leave it out if the kids don't like it)! Paired with honey smoked ham and muenster cheese, these pinwheels will be gone in no-time!
Also, don't underestimate the cream cheese spread. You'll want to smear it on everything.
If you or your kids enjoy something sweet that is ALSO nutritiou (you don't have to tell the kids that part), you will absolutely enjoy my Pumpkin Cookie Dough Bites.
They're filled with oats, flax seed, pumpkin puree, honey or maple syrup and dark chocolate chips. They’re absolutely delicious, nutritious AND filling, which is what makes a delightful snack.
I've also included my super popular recipe for homemade Dill-Horseradish Veggie Dip that fits perfectly on a platter with raw veggies!
It's made with Greek yogurt, horseradish sauce or prepared horseradish (again, if the kiddos like it!), lemon, fresh herbs and spices. Talk about dippin'!
Also, it wouldn't be back-to-school if we didn't have a super delicious snack mix!
My Healthy Chex Mix has wheat and rice Chex, multigrain Cheerios, whole grain Goldfish crackers, pretzels and nuts (if the kids can have 'em) with a delicious onion, garlic, Worcestershire and olive oil seasoning mix that is SO GOOD. You can also add some air popped popcorn, if you wish.
This is a salty snack you can feel good about!
What would a snack post be without a smoothie? These banana peach smoothies are light and refreshing with frozen bananas and peaches, Greek yogurt, milk and honey.
The best high protein smoothie that is naturally sweet and delicious!
And last, but not least, my favorite make-ahead mini muffins!
These little guys are made with whole grain flour, Greek yogurt and mini dark chocolate chips. It's a snack you can feel good about!
Be sure your snacks combine protein and fiber to keep you satisfied and please your taste buds. And, don’t forget to let the kiddos help with prep!
Now’s the time to start snacking.