5 Healthy Food Trap Snacks and 5 Alternative Nutrient Dense Snack Options
Moms are some of the busiest clients I have. Although my kids are older now, I remember the endless snacks and crumbs that covered my house and car when they were younger.
Over the past few years I have learned a lot from my friend Wendi Combes at Jubilee Health. I am so thankful she spoke into what she was observing as I fed my kids.
When she began to help one of my kiddos health, I also invited her in to help me with food changes. We started with snacks. Truth be told, my kids were probably eating more snacks than meals. (As another wonderful friend pointed out as well) Here are a 3 questions I used to start making my transition to nutritious snacks.
- Did my kids like crunchy snacks or softer snacks? (chips vs gummy snacks)
- Did my kiddos like salty or sweet things? (Popcorn or cookies)
- What were snacks I was feeding them that I felt were “healthy” but were not?
The first 2 questions helped me to think through my transitional foods. If they like crunchy things, then I would start with plantain chips or raw veggies and crunchy fruits like apples. If they liked sweeter things, I would choose carrots, smoothie, or sweet seasonal fruit.
But the last question was something I couldn’t really answer without help from Wendi. You see, I had limited information in my head about what was “healthy” and at the time I was letting the labels guide me verses reading the ingredients.
When my child needed to go on a strict diet, I had to start reading ingredients and look for added sugars, gluten, corn and other ingredients that I couldn’t pronounce. The first 3 ingredients are always the most important but I had to look at my snacks as a whole. Here were 5 snacks that I found to be full of sugar or with what I call “empty calories”.
5 Health Food Trap Snacks
Note: These foods are not “bad”, but should be given during transition or on occasion. Too often they are given every day which leaves you in a health food trap. See more below
1. Health Snack Bars
Prepackaged snack bars are totally a permissible food, but not something a toddler should be eating on a daily basis. Lara bars and Cliff bars are packed full of sugar. You would do much better to give them a bowl of walnuts, seeds and cut up some organic berries. Snack bars may have nutrients in them, but the sugar content trumps the nutrients. I would keep them on the shelf and pull them out only on occasion.
2. Pirates Booty and veggie straws
These are great transitional foods, but not everyday foods. They are mostly made of corn, oil and air. They do not fill up a child and most often you will entertain their mouths and tummies for a few minutes but they will come back asking for more. Choose a more nutrient dense snack to maintain blood sugar and aid the body in long lasting energy.
3. Whole Grain Goldfish and Cheerios
I am sorry to put these on the list, but it is true. These snacks are offered almost everywhere you go and has been widely accepted as “THE kid snacks of choice”. I can’t think of any child who would not want to eat these or an adult for that matter. But, these little guys contain ingredients that just don’t communicate well with our bodies.
The wheat used in both of them is most often “enriched wheat” (and sometimes bleached) which basically means that after all the nutrition was taken from the grain, they add it back in, but not in its natural form.Wheat is best absorbed (if you are not allergic to gluten) when it is sprouted. Canola or soybean oil is also used in these little fish and unless it is organic, that means it is genetically modified. Choose a sprouted chip or Einkorn sourdough cracker instead.
4. Fruit snacks
These are a sneaky trap because you will often see it labeled as “Packed with Vitamin C”. But it is mostly sugar. You are better off letting your kids choose from a whole piece of fruit to get the vitamin C and beneficial bacteria, fiber and enzymes to go along with it.
This one was hard to get away from at first, but I ended up saving so much money and my kids were satisfied and not coming back for another pack. Keep the fruit snacks at the store. You don’t need them.
5. Organic Animal Crackers
This is just code for processed cookies. Yes, they may be organic, but that basically means some of the ingredients (not all) don’t contain genetically modified products or pesticides. Good choice, but not best choice.
These cookies contain wheat and corn that is not sprouted. They usually are packed with 1 or 2 types of sugar found in the first 3 ingredients, which means it is mostly made of this. They also contain soy lecithin. Natural flavor is also in the ingredients which is a catch all phrase for something the manufacture wants to hide.
There is nothing in these cookies that is necessary for our little ones. And let’s be honest, you can’t just eat one serving. Leave them at Costco and try homemade sprouted popcorn or crunchy raw veggies. If you are transitioning your kiddos from sweet, try my cookie recipe!
5 Nutrient dense snacks with no hidden tricks!
1. Homemade Trail mix
Pick up bags of goji berries, walnuts, seeds, pecans, roasted chickpeas, cashews,flax seeds and almonds. Mix your favorite combination together and add mini dairy free chocolate chips or coconut flakes for added sweetness! Let your kids make it and bag them to grab and go!
2. Toothpick sandwiches
On a toothpick stack the following: Uncured pepperoni, spinach, organic berries, Applegate roasted turkey or ham and then finish it with uncured pepperoni slice. My older kids still love these!
3. Whole piece of fruit
Apples with peeling, pears and organic berries have low-glycemic index and are great detoxing agents for kids to eat for snacks! I feed my kids fruit for snacks verses at meals and find that it is just the right food to give them a boost!
4. Raw Veggies and guacamole
Cut up all different colors of veggies. For cucumbers, cut them in strips or round chunks and squeeze a lemon over top with salt and pepper. (This was a game changer for us!) For simple guacamole simply scoop out the avocado in a bowl, add garlic powder, real salt and pepper and squeeze a lime or lemon over it and you have a simple dip for veggies!
5. Oatmega or Kind Bars
If you need a bar, consider Oatmega and Kind bars for better options. They offer lower sugar and higher protein and omega 3 fats that our bodies need. You can also make your own bars using this recipe.
Need some simple steps to start making the snack transition? Check out this post .