Smart Snacks for the Whole Family

For the last couple of weeks, we've been on a treasure hunt for healthy snacks. Our goal was to find some good eats - homemade and ready-made - that kids can enjoy for lunches or anytime. We discovered some good treats for the whole family.

Of course, finding "healthy" snacks means we had to read lots of labels and peruse lots of recipes. In our culture, a snack is so often equated with junk like cookies, chips, candy and pop (Ok, soda) - full of empty calories, chemical-laden white sugars and flours. But life with a toddler has taught us that snacks need to be nutritious and delicious because really they are mini-meals. Meilani partakes in many mini-meals a day.

We wanted to share our Top 10 list and we encourage you to share these recipes or add to our list some of the smart snacks you've discovered on your own. Why should moms have to do all the research individually? Why not share the wealth of our treasure hunt with others? Pass it on.


*Dorina's Peanut Butter Coconut Granola (Bars or Crumbled) - Find the recipe at the right. This granola is a big hit at the Gilmores. Daddy eats it for breakfast with milk as cereal. Mama & Meilani eat it as a snack. We even use it thrown on top of fruit and baked in the oven like a "crisp" dessert.
*Apple slices with Almond Butter - They sell fresh-pressed Almond Butter at our local Winco grocery store and lots of other stores are carrying almond butter on their shelves. Just slice up the apple of your choice and give your kids a small bowl of almond butter for dipping.
*Pear slices with Organic Peanut Butter - Choose firm pears like bosc or other varieties, slice them up and spread them with peanut butter. Look for peanut butters that use real peanuts and no added sugar. (Jiffy doesn't count! - more sugar than peanuts.)
*Organic Whole Milk Yogurt sprinkled with Cinnamon - We like Yo Baby! brand because they come in individual containers but you can save money buying a tub of organic yogurt and dishing it our yourself. Instead of adding sugar, try honey and a sprinkle of cinnamon. Add your own fresh fruit or let kids dip fresh fruit cut into sticks in the yogurt.
*Banana-Oatmeal Power Cookies - These are a new favorite snack recipe from the Complete Outdoor Living William Sonoma cookbook. Let us know if you want the recipe. The Cross Country team already digs these power-packed treats.
*Maple Glazed Walnuts - We snagged this one from Food Network's Ellie Krieger who hosts the show, Healthy Appetite on Saturdays. She's a great resource for yummy tasting, healthy eats. And this recipe is a snap to make.
*Carrot Sticks or Celery Sticks with Hummus dip - We make our own homemade hummus (recipe at right), which is a mix of garbanzo beans, garlic, tahini, lemon juice and salt. It's simple and cheap to make from scratch. Meilani is a "dipper" and here's another chance to get those healthy beans in her system along with fresh vegetables. Ericlee eats hummus instead of mayo on a sandwich. Dorina prefers hummus with pita bread and a spoonful of salsa.
*Whole Fruit Smoothies with Flaxseed - We have one of those VitaMix blenders (like the ones they use at Jamba Juice) and you can pretty much throw any whole fruit into it with a little soy milk or juice and a tablespoon of flaxseed and you have instant breakfast. Meilani is a big fan. I buy a package of colored straws and she drinks smoothies for breakfast and treats.
*Banana Oat Muffins - This is a new recipe from a book called HEALTHY KIDS by Marilu Henner. She gives lots of ideas on healthy food for kids minus the excessive sugar and white flours. The book is a great resource on healthy living and includes recipes at the back.
*Trail Mix - You can buy trail mix in individual packages now at places like Costco. We like to make our own with nuts, dried fruit and dark chocolate chips available in bulk at places like Winco. Let your kids create their own mix and get excited about sharing it.
*Whole Wheat Quesadillas with Organic Sour Cream - Trader Joe's is our favorite local grocery store and they sell fabulous whole wheat quesadillas. They are thick and chewy - great for quesadillas with a dab of TJ's sour cream (with no hormones).


*Organic Fruitabu - These are available in bulk at Costco or in small packages at your regular grocery store. Fruitabu are 100% fruit with no added sugar. Move over Fruit Roll-ups.
*Kashi crackers (5-grain or cheese) - Kashi is a great brand for snack crackers and many local grocery stores carry Kashi now.
*Trader Joe's Fig bars - As mentioned before, Trader Joe's is a favorite for us and they make yummy cereal bars with Figs. Meilani digs them and they can double as a quick breakfast or lunch accompaniment. Great for picnics.
*Whole Wheat Organic Os - Skip the Cheerios or sugar-coated cereals and seek out a 100% whole wheat Os. These can be found at Vons, Safeway, Trader Joe's, Whole Foods - pretty much any grocery if you look carefully.
*Organic Blue Corn Tortilla Chips - We love these with salsa and the blue corn adds a visual twist. We crumble these chips into tortilla soup and other soups as well for garnish.
*Organic Tortilla Chips with Flaxseed - These are also available in bulk at Winco or places like Trader Joe's. Help your kids get their share of flaxseed - that amazing brain food. No joke; Studies show they'll be smarter.
*Larabars - These are an awesome all-fruit and nut bar with no added sugar. Then ingredients list is literally 2-3 items. You don't find that very often in snacks. Ericlee's favorite flavor is Apple Pie. Mmmm, good.
*Clif's ZBar - This is a new bar designed especially for kids by the Clif Bar company. They come in yummy flavors like Chocolate Brownie and Chocolate Chip with no high fructose corn syrup like those other bars...
*Annie's Whole Wheat or Cheddar Bunnies - For toddlers who are into bunnies and ducks, substitute these whole grain treats instead of the traditional animal crackers that have very little nutritional value. We find them at Costco in bulk or other stores like Whole Foods or Vons in smaller packages. These cute bunnies taste great and don't have added sugar.
*Earth's Best Organic Whole Grain Bars - These are ready-made granola bars if you don't want to make your own and they incorporate blueberries or other dried fruit to please your kids' palates.

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