Honestly, I’d probably go back to school if solid snacks were provided. One way to illuminate your kids’ back-to-school entry experience is to lure them with the promise of a backpack full of delicious and nourishing snacks. Snacks are a good opportunity to teach kids about nutrition via “osmosis” — they’ll learn that what you serve is a subtle communication about health, nutrition, and a way you express your love and dedication to them. It’s also a salient way for them to exercise some autonomy — you can poll your brood and gather their requests/feedback each week, or have them select off a master snack menu, as far as which snacks they’d like to see in their school and extracurricular bags.
Plants & Proteins
In essence, we always tell clients to pick a PLANT and a PROTEIN. We define a “plant” as a fruit/vegetable and we define protein as, well, as anything that has some protein. The beautiful symphony of complex carbohydrates (the ones found in plants/whole grains) and proteins keep your little (and you, because we know you’ll steal…) satiated. Eating more plants contributes to better health and development and dare I say — a better connection with the Earth. Opening up discussions about the origins of your littles’ snacks is a precious thing. You can talk about farming, labor, the Earth, sustainability, transport, economics, etc. It’s not as comfortable to discuss the awe of a Dorito’s journey to your kids’ snack plate as it is, say, a cherry (currently on sale at Publix… Run, don’t walk.)
Here are some of our pediatric dietitian squad’s favorite back-to-school snacks. Don’t forget to take your “mom tax” — that is, your fair share of the snack booty.
Sunflower Seed Butter and Chia Jam Sammies
Use Ezekiel, Dave’s, or Siete Cassava tortillas/wraps/bread and spread some sunflower seed butter + cinnamon on one side, and make a chia jam on the other (bootleg it = microwave berries with chia and lemon, mash it up). You can grill these in some olive oil or ghee to make them meltier.
Slice a papaya down the middle, lengthwise, and stuff with yogurt, sunflower seeds, chia seeds, cacao nibs, and drizzle with some melted almond butter/honey. I also like to top mine with microwaved frozen cherries.
Cucumber Sleepover Rolls
Use a peeler to skin some cucumbers into long strands and spread some labneh, tomato spread, pesto, or tapenade on them and roll them up. Seal them with toothpicks.
Mini Chia Pots de Coconut Creme
Sounds glamorous — but just soak 2 TBSP chia seeds in ½ cup of unsweetened canned coconut milk. Jazz it up with vanilla/some rolled oats and let it set for a few hours. Top it with mashed fruits/some honey. Mini mason jars make for very elegant “pots.”
Stuffed Edamame Hummus Peppers
Open up some peppers (red, green, etc.) and stuff them with edamame hummus (buy it, or puree some boiled edamame beans + olive oil + salt + paprika) and top it off with paprika. I try to avoid classic hummus even though it’s nut-free, as sesame is now a top nine allergen and coincides frequently with peanut allergies.
Microwaveable Mug Snacks
Google this and enjoy the rabbit hole. You can do major wonders with some oat flour, milk, egg, cacao powder, cinnamon, and any fruit you wish. As long as the egg is fully cooked, the flavor iterations are endless. This is a great snack when the kids stampede home from school and start whining. It will keep them occupied for the three minutes of cooking time.
Fleas on a Log
Ants on a Log traditionally have peanut butter (not safe for school allergies) and raisins (delicious, but our dentists may not be pleased). Stuff celery stalks with sunflower seed butter or pumpkin seed butter, and sprinkle them with chia seeds, cinnamon, and some cacao nibs. The chia seeds are the cuter versions of ants/fleas.
Fancy Baby Charcuterie
Why do we adults get to have all the fun of the trendy charcuterie trend? Send your little with a compartmentalized “Bento-esque” container of three different types of cheeses (you can use miniature cookie cutters to cut them into fun shapes like stars), cornichons, pitted olives, prosciutto or smoked salmon, grapes, mini cucumbers, tapenade, fig jam, pumpkin seeds or sunflower seeds, dark chocolate squares, etc.
Now it’s your turn! What are your kids’ favorite healthy, allergy-friendly snack combos? Help some mamas out and drop them in the comments below!