5 Healthy Homemade Snacks for Your Child's Lunch Box

Kids love to snack, but choosing healthy, nutritious options (that they'll actually eat) can be a challenge. Here are our suggestions for fun and easy ideas that the little ones can take to school.

Chocolate-Zucchini Cakes with Walnuts

Zucchini makes these treats nice and moist. You can substitute pecans for the walnuts.

• Prep Time 15 minutes
• Total Time 30 minutes
• Serves 24

• 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted and cooled
• 1 cup sugar
• 1/2 teaspoon coarse salt
• 1 large egg
• 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
• 1 cup finely grated zucchini (from 1 medium zucchini)
• 3 tablespoons sour cream
• 1 cup all-purpose flour
• 1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
• 1/2 cup (3 ounces) bittersweet chocolate, chopped (or chocolate chips)
• Nonstick cooking spray
• 24 walnut halves

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a large bowl, stir together butter, sugar, salt, and egg until combined. Add vanilla, zucchini, and sour cream and stir until incorporated. Sift flour and cocoa powder into bowl and stir until combined. Stir in chocolate.

2. Spray two mini muffin pans with cooking spray. Fill each cup with 2 tablespoons batter and top with a walnut. Bake until a toothpick inserted in center of a muffin comes out clean, 15 to 17 minutes. Let muffins cool slightly in pans on wire racks before serving.

Cook's Note
Store in an airtight container, up to 3 days.

Plus: 5-Ingredient Gourmet Dinners

Nonuttin' Chewy Chocolate-Chip Granola Bars

Enjoy a tasty, allergen-free snack with these easy-to-make granola bars from Alana Elliott of Nonuttin' Foods.

Makes about 16 bars

• Nonstick cooking spray
• 1 3/4 cups gluten-free quick-cooking oatmeal
• 1 1/4 cups gluten-free crisp rice cereal
• 1/3 cup lightly packed light-brown sugar
• 1/3 cup vegetable oil
• 1/3 cup honey
• 1/2 cup mini gluten-free semisweet chocolate chips

1. Spray an 8-by-8-inch baking dish with nonstick cooking spray; line baking sheet with parchment paper, leaving a 1-inch overhang on all sides. Set aside.

2. Place oatmeal and rice cereal in a large bowl; stir to combine. Set aside.

3. In a medium saucepan, mix together brown sugar, oil, and honey. Place over medium-high heat; bring to a gentle boil. Cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Remove from heat and add to oatmeal mixture; stir until oatmeal mixture is fully coated and well combined.

4. Evenly pour oatmeal mixture into prepared baking dish; sprinkle with chocolate chips. When mixture is cool enough to touch, press down into pan. Let cool to room temperature. Cut into 16 (1-by-4-inch) bars.

Cook's Note
Granola bars can be stored at room temperature in an airtight container for up to 1 week, and frozen up to 6 months.

Plus: Make a fun after school snack you and your child will love!

Dried Fruit and Nut Bites

• Makes 20; serves 5

• 2 cups mixed dried fruit
• 2 cups raw mixed nuts and seeds
• Cinnamon
• Coarse salt
• 1/3 cup raw sesame seeds

1. In a food processor, pulse dried fruit; transfer to a bowl.
2. Pulse nuts and seeds until finely chopped and add to dried fruit with a dash of cinnamon and a pinch of salt.
3. Knead together and form 1-inch balls; roll each ball in sesame seeds.

Cocoa Popcorn

• Prep Time 5 minutes
• Total Time 5 minutes
• 10 cups plain unsalted popped popcorn
• 2 tablespoons sugar
• 2 teaspoons unsweetened cocoa powder
• 2 tablespoons melted butter

Place popcorn in a large bowl. Combine sugar and cocoa powder. Drizzle melted butter over popcorn, tossing to combine. Sprinkle with cocoa mixture, and toss.

Plus: After-School Snack Ideas

Rice-Pudding Balls

• Makes 24 pieces; serves 8
• 2 cups skim milk
• 1/4 cup brown sugar
• 2 tablespoons honey
• 1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom
• Salt
• 1/2 cup Arborio rice
• 1/2 cup golden raisins
• 1/2 cup unsweetened flaked coconut
• 1/2 cup raw whole almonds

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. In a large saucepan, combine milk, sugar, honey, cardamom, and a pinch of salt; bring to a boil over medium-high. Add rice and stir. Partially cover, reduce heat to low, and cook, stirring occasionally, until rice is tender, 30 to 35 minutes.

2. Transfer rice to a bowl and stir in raisins. Cover with plastic, and refrigerate until cold, at least 2 hours.

3. Spread coconut and almonds on a rimmed baking sheet and bake, tossing occasionally, until coconut is golden, 4 to 6 minutes; set aside to cool. Grind nuts and coconut in a food processor until very finely ground; set aside.

4. Using level tablespoons, form rice mixture into balls (you should get about 24) and roll in coconut-almond mixture. Place on a rimmed baking sheet and refrigerate until firm, at least 1 hour, or covered, up to 2 days.

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