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Wednesday, March 2, 2016

10 Fun Snacks for Children

My children are always famished after we return from school, so I'm forever on the lookout for healthy snacks that we can put together quickly.  The more fun and interesting I can make them, the more eager they'll be to try something that isn't from a shiny package full of artificial colors and preservatives.  If it's something they can participate in making, that's even better.  I share below 10 of the most fun snacks we've tried over the past year.

1. Owl Bagels: This one was Pinterest-inspired.  I spread pumpkin cookie butter on toasted bagels, but you could use peanut butter instead.  Simply slice up some strawberries to use as the beaks and wings, then slice bananas for the whites of the eyes.  Finally top the eyes with fresh blueberries.  These would be great for breakfast as well.

2. Honey Balls: Just 4 ingredients are used: peanut butter, honey, oats, and dry milk powder.  Kids love to make these.  For the recipe, click here to link to my blog post from June.  No cooking or baking is required so you can cut your kids loose in the kitchen to measure, stir, and roll.  It is a bit messy and sticky though as you can see in the photo.

3. Fruit & Veggies Spelling Out LEGO: If you recall, we made this for our son's 9th birthday party last summer.  I used baby carrots, sliced strawberries, chopped cantaloupe, and maraschino cherries, but you could use whatever fruits and veggies you have.  I did discover that the cherries "bleed" all over the tray, so that wasn't the best choice.  I found this idea on Pinterest and adapted it based on what we had in our refrigerator.

4. Banana Chips & Nutella: Absolutely no prep time required for this snack.  Just let the kids dip dried banana chips in a bowl of Nutella.  Simple, relatively healthy, and delicious.

5. Heart Shaped Cucumbers & Cheese: We made these for Valentine's Day.  Slice up a cucumber and use a metal cookie cutter to cut out the hearts.  Do the same with a block of cheese and place on top of heart-shaped pretzel crackers.  I've never seen my children so eager to eat cucumbers.

6. Yogurt Pops: Simply stir together plain or vanilla yogurt with some honey and berries or other fruit.  Either place in disposable cups or plastic popsicle containers and put in the freezer.  We made these last summer after purchasing many quarts of locally grown strawberries.  So much better than store-bought.

7. Meat, Cheese, & Crackers Displayed in Animal Shapes: We designed this for Thanksgiving, of course, but I might try another animal sometime soon.  The kids enjoyed helping arrange this, and they devoured it within ten minutes.  I used sausage and pepperoni because I knew my children would eat that, but any thinly sliced meat would work as long as it was the right geometric shape.  I had to improvise and use black decorating icing for the eyes, Miracle Whip for the nose, and matches for the legs because I ran out of toothpicks.  Pinterest-inspired.

8. Pretzel Treats: I'm not sure I would classify these as healthy, but they're bitesized, so eaten in moderation, they're not too much sugar.  We used butter flavored square mini-pretzels, topped with zebra striped Hershey's Kisses slightly melted, topped with M&Ms.  These were made for Valentine's Day, but you could easily change the color of M&Ms to suit any season or holiday.  This was also inspired by Pinterest.

9. Vegetables in Shape of Christmas Tree: I'm always trying to find a way to make vegetables more appetizing for my kiddos.  I saw this idea on Pinterest, of course, and decided to try it out on Christmas day.  Mine doesn't look nearly as pretty as the Pinterest pin, but it still turned out fairly well.  It still didn't entice my children to eat cherry tomatoes, however.  If I make this again, I'll use a larger platter because everything was squished together.  I used pretzel sticks for the tree trunk, and the yellow pepper slices at the top are supposed to be a star, believe it or not.

10. Apple Mouths: We finally tried these Pinterest designs yesterday afternoon.  It was messier than I anticipated.  Spread peanut butter on thin slices of apples.  Place mini-marshmallows (the teeth) on the bottom slice and place another apple slice on top.  We tried to get creative by adding chocolate chips as cavities and sliced up chocolate licorice for braces (photo at top of blog.)  I also purposely left a big gap in the middle of the one mouth above because our youngest has lost her two front teeth.  These were fun, but gooey.

So the next time you're looking for a quick, healthy snack to make with your little ones, instead of reaching for the box of fruit snacks, give one of these a try.  The only ones that require more than about 15 minutes are the yogurt pops since they need time to freeze.

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