As senior food editor at Good Housekeeping, I create recipes and write about food and cooking to help our readers enjoy their time in the kitchen. My work here is influenced as much by my professional culinary training as it is by my home life. I'm a working mom with three kids. I've got about 30 minutes each night to get dinner on the table before a meltdown begins. Of course, I want my dishes to be delicious, but they also have to be quick and nutritious.
Now that my daughters are back in school, I have to think about snack time, too. Though I enjoy making some snacks from scratch, I also hit the market for tasty, healthy store-bought goodies that won't spoil any appetites before dinner. Here are our 10 of my family's favorites.
Related: 50 Best Low-Calorie Snacks
Prune PlumsPrune Plums
Also known as Italian plums, these dark purple oblong beauties are in season for the start of school. They're less tart than regular plums and don't burst easily inside lunch boxes.
Boring, I know. But my girls really love them! It's best - and easiest - to pack them whole, but my big girls have lost all their front teeth and can't bite into hard fruits. To keep cut slices fresh, I use an apple cutter to divvy up the whole thing, then put the apple back together before wrapping it tightly in plastic wrap. It's how my mom used to pack apples for me.
I like the individual bags of Trader Joe's kettle corn because they're lower in fat and sodium than the regular option. And they have that great salty-sweet balance on really light, crisp popcorn.
Related: Tasty Treats at 100 Calories or Less
Roasted Salted Almonds
My kids' school doesn't have any nut restrictions, so I can pack them baggies of Whole Foods Roasted Salted Almonds. They're super crunchy and have a generous dusting of salt. My little ones prefer pistachios, which they enjoy at home, but those shells are too messy for the school lunch room.
For the uninitiated, dry, paper-thin slices of roasted, salted seaweed, sometimes called nori, is lip-smackingly good. Seaweed is chock full of umami, that irresistible savory fifth taste that you taste in a grilled steak. Annie Chun makes snack packs that are available in most supermarkets. I buy the giant Costco box of roasted seaweed because my girls can devour three packs at a time. But I still give them only one a day (everything-in-moderation learning moment!).
These fruit and veggie smoothies from Revolution Foods are a huge hit with my girls. They love the squeezy pouches and the more-interesting-than-applesauce flavors. Beetbox Berry is the most requested in my home. Plus, 3% of the snacks' revenues go to supporting school lunch programs for under-served schools.
Related: Snack-All-Day Diet Plan
Tricolor packs (red, orange, yellow) tend to be a good deal and add color, crunch, and lots of vitamin C to my kiddies' after-school snack plate. They used to complain about the flavor and texture - until I started peeling off the tissue-thin skin with a vegetable peeler. There's a faint bitterness and toughness in the skin that kids sometimes don't like. Yes, this is how I spoil my kids.
We all crave these crunchy baked sourdough crisps that pack lots of real cheese flavor. I pick up the John Wm. Macy's Brand at my local market and get the Archer Farms brand from Target otherwise.
When I have time, I like to make a batch of homemade ones. (It's easier than you think!) Otherwise, I pick up boxes of TLC's Honey Toasted 7-Grain Bars. The crunchy ones, not the chewy kind, as my girls are quick to remind me.
Related: 5 Satisfying Sugar-Free Treats
Pop ChipsPop Chips
I'll be honest. I'm that mean mommy who doesn't let my kids have chips everyday. But occasionally, I'll surprise them with a bag of these airy crisps that are neither baked nor fried. We've sampled the range of flavors and original remains their pick. Mine, too.
What are your suggestions for tasty and healthy kids' snacks? Let me know in the comments!
- by Genevieve Ko
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