Healthy Snacks for Kids

January 31st, 2010 · 6 Comments · Time for Dinner: The Cookbook

My six-year-old is hungry all day long — until dinner is served, of course. At that point she tries to chatter her way through the event as though somehow we may not notice that she hasn’t lifted her fork. It’s not entirely her fault, though. Half the time, I’ll have come home from work hungry enough to eat the front door, so I set out a bowl of chips and salsa to tie me over to mealtime. What am I supposed to do..not let her have some with me? (Um, no, says every “expert” who has ever weighed in on the topic of snacking.) The point is, besides the fact that I need to be more disciplined in general, is that she should be eating a healthy, nutritious snack at least two hours before dinner — one that satisfies her enough to prevent her regular 6:00 kitchen migration. When I’m my best self, these might be the kind of thing I’m talking about:

Mango Armadillos

Its menacing disposition belies the happy effect it has on my children. I can’t take full credit for the inspiration here — Abby gets an inordinate amount of pleasure when I turn mangoes “inside out” so this time, we decided to add a few pomegranate seeds as eyeballs to give it a little personality. It’s amazing how much it actually looks like her.

You make these the same way you might already slice an avocado: Slice off a wedge from the mango  — as large as you can without cutting into its pit; using a sharp knife, draw a checkerboard of slices in the fruit, being careful not to cut all the way through the skin; flip inside out and tuck in pomegranate seeds.


Apple Sticks with Honey

Yes, it’s fussy, but for whatever reason, the girls eat approximately 250% more apple when it’s cut into matchsticks, so I’m going with it. Peel a snacking apple (I love Fujis) if your kids are anti-skin (It’s ok, they’re still healthy that way), cut into wedges, then cut those wedges into sticks. Serve with a small bowl of honey.

Cheese Bagel Panini

Little known fact: It’s easier to disguise a whole wheat bagel when it’s been grilled in the waffle iron. You can buy mini whole wheat bagels from Trader Joe’s or Whole Foods. Assemble your cheese and bagel, place in a waffle iron (on medium-heat setting) and press down until cheese is melted.

Chip-and-Dip Sunflower

A dollop of Trader Joe’s spicy black bean dip surrounded by petals of tortilla chips that actually taste like corn. Phoebe can’t believe her luck.

A Little Bowl of Rubies

Strawberries and pomegranates look like jewelry to me — even when the strawberries are those off-season white-fleshed and flavorless kinds. But the kids don’t seem to notice especially when they get to sprinkle a little sugar on top by themselves.

Sprout Bread with Almond Butter and Bananas

Wait, how did my favorite lunch get on this list? Oh, well. My kids won’t touch it, but maybe yours will. The credit for the combo goes to Victoria Granof, who I worked closely with in the food department at Cookie. You’ll also see it — and many more genius Victoria concoctions — in the Time for Dinner cookbook (Chronicle, 2010).


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6 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Maryanne Duncan // Mar 20, 2010 at 4:09 pm

    I love all of your creative ideas. I can’t wait to buy the cook-book. Keep up the good work. I am enjoying your web-site so much and will share it with my daughter-in-law and my friends.
    Love, Maryanne

  • 2 Married with Puppies // May 1, 2010 at 2:28 pm

    Wait — I’m confused. The inside-out mango looks really cool (especially since I have a super hard time slicing mangoes, and I always feel like too much fruit remains stuck to the pit), but I can’t figure out quite how this goes. When you slice off the wedge, are the subsequent steps performed on the wedge? Or on the rest of the fruit? How many armadillos do you get out of one mango?

  • 3 jenny // May 2, 2010 at 2:26 pm

    Married w Puppies – You cut the grid into the sliced off part of the mango. And you can get two “armadillos” out of each one. The trick is to cut the grid into the flesh without cutting through the skin. Make sense?

  • 4 Paige // May 18, 2010 at 4:35 pm

    I love the mango armadillo! And I just posted on my blog the other day a handy little OXO tool to slice mangos efficiently!

    http://www.iheartyoublog.com/2010/05/mangos-made-easy.html

  • 5 Jerry Russell // Apr 7, 2012 at 12:01 pm

    Yum yum yum! These look so delicious I can’t wait to try this! Thanks for a healthy recipe.
    http://all4payday.com

  • 6 June2 // May 1, 2012 at 3:25 pm

    Fats and carbs satiate so if you make the snacks low fat, like fruits and veggies, a few olives, carrot salad with raisins, etc…then they will gain a nutritious appetizer without spoiling their appetite for dinner.

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