Here are 10 easy and nutritious snack suggestions, all readily available in your neighbourhood grocery store. Many can also be homemade in no time. I set aside a space in my fridge and pantry where these snacks are easily accessible.
Those with figs, dates and oatmeal-raisin offer nothing more than sugar and fat. Whenever possible, I avoid cookies that contain hydrogenated vegetable oil and take a detour down the natural foods aisle.
I usually make my own applesauce. I combine unpeeled apples, core removed, a bit of water and a hint of maple syrup. It is gently heated, covered, until it turns into purée. You can then pass it through a sieve, if necessary. There is also a wide selection of unsweetened fruit compote at the grocery store.
Dried fruit paste
Fun, these little fruit pastes contain one to two apples in each bar! To appease the dentists out there, be aware that sweet foods (even naturally sweet foods) can promote the development of cavities by sticking to teeth. Add a protective food to chew on at snack time (cheese or vegetables) or get your kids into a habit of rinsing their mouths with water after the snack.
Rice cake with tofu spread
These round, crunchy cakes are made with whole grain brown rice. Stay away from mini-chips, which are less attractive after you’ve taken a peek at the label. An excellent choice in a fix, rice cakes have a permanent place in my emergency survival kit, and in the glove compartment of my car. Suggested topping: a tofu spread to convert even the most sceptical among you.
Kiwi with a spoon
This fruit rode a massive wave of popularity and then interest waned. Now kiwis are making a comeback. Besides the little green fruit, you’ll find a yellow-fleshed kiwi on store shelves in the fall. Nice presentation when served whole in an eggcup, those pressed for time can rely on the handy small Ziploc bag, a small spoon and a ripe kiwi already cut in two.
Cheese and vegetable juice
There’s no lack of choice here. As with other snacks, it’s important to change up the variety, the colour and the form (round cheese, cut-up cubes, cheese strings).
Sweet, smooth, super nutritious… homemade milk-based desserts are right up there on my list of favourite childhood memories. There’s blanc-manger, tapioca, vanilla or chocolate pudding, crème caramel. If I’m out of milk, I use plain yogurt instead, after adding a dollop of homemade strawberry jam.
A newcomer has carved out a place for itself now that most schools ban peanuts and nuts. I’m talking about roasted soybeans. Kids prefer them mixed with something else. I like the combination of roasted soybeans, dried cranberries and a cereal such as Shreddies. This snack also slides easily into a coat pocket on the way to play outside.
Sample the tastes of other cultures and spice up your routine. Savour dips such as yogurt and garlic dip (tzatziki), chickpea dip (hummus)... enjoy with some raw veggies, crackers or toasted pita triangles.
A major headache! First, I avoid all bars with chocolate coating, caramel, marshmallows or multi-coloured candy bits. I am also wary of claims such as “natural”, “granola”, “fruity” and “muffin bars”, words that do not always equal healthy, products that sometimes look like cupcakes. I still prefer the tried-and-true date square.