Healthy back to school snacks kids crave

Michele Borboa, MS

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Whether you've got elementary school kids in need of classroom nibbles or teens hungry for homework fuel, healthy homemade snacks are the key to keeping your kids energized throughout their busy school day. Here are a few back to school snack ideas that are not only crave-worthy, they are healthy and easy to make. Give these healthy snack ideas a try this week!

 

Almond Butter Dried Cherry Granola Bars

Sideline the packaged granola bars laced with trans fat and laden with sugar. These heart-healthy homemade granola bars make great snack ideas and are flavorfully loaded with good-for-you fats, chewy cherries, crunchy nuts and dark chocolate.

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups steel cut oats
  • 1 cup unsweetened coconut flakes
  • 1 1/2 cups coarsely chopped raw almonds
  • 1 cup agave syrup
  • 1/4 cup smooth almond butter
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup honey toasted wheat germ
  • 1 1/2 cups dried cherries
  • 1/2 cup sunflower seeds
  • 1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon pure almond extract
  • 3/4 cup chopped dark chocolate (at least 85% cocoa)
Directions:
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Line an 11x7-inch baking dish with aluminum foil. Spray with cooking spray.
  3. In a large mixing bowl, combine oatmeal, coconut and almonds. Pour into prepared casserole dish. Spray with cooking spray, tossing to coat. Toast in the oven for 10 minutes, stirring once.
  4. In a small saucepan over medium-high heat, combine agave, almond butter, cinnamon, and salt. Cook, stirring often, until combined and bubbly. Remove from heat.
  5. In a large bowl, combine wheat germ, cherries, and sunflower seeds. Add the toasted oatmeal mixture. Add vanilla and almond extracts to the agave mixture and pour over oat mixture. Stir until ingredients are well-combined.
  6. Pour back into casserole dish and sprinkle with chocolate. Bake for 30 minutes. Cool on a wire rack. Cut into bars. Wrap individual bars in plastic wrap and store in the refrigerator. Pack in an insulated lunch bag with a cold pack to keep chocolate from melting.

Baked Cinnamon Sweet Potato and Carrot Chips recipe

Traditional potato chips are full of sodium, fat and crunchy calories. Surprise your kids with these colorful, spicy sweet, low-fat treats. Serve them with a low-fat dressing or low-sodium ketchup.  

Ingredients:

  • 1 long, skinny sweet potato
  • 3 large carrots
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
Directions:
  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
  2. Cut sweet potato and carrots into 1/4-inch slices and place in a large bowl. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with cinnamon, salt and pepper.
  3. Arrange in a single layer on a large rimmed baking sheet. Bake for 20 to 30 minutes or until lightly browned. Eat warm or cool completely and store in the refrigerator in an airtight container. Chips can be rewarmed in the microwave.

Savory Puff Pastry Twists

Storebought cheese crackers are a popular grab, but are a mouthful of calories, sodium and trans fat. These cheesy puff pastry twists are simple to bake, fun to eat, and are a healthier yet just as satisfying back to school snack choice. Ingredients:

  • 1/2 (17.3-ounce) package puff pastry sheets (1 sheet), thawed
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tablespoon water
  • 1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 teaspoon dried Italian seasoning
Directions:
  1. Heat the oven to 400 degrees F.
  2. In a small bowl, whisk together the egg and water. In a second small bowl, combine Parmesan and Italian seasoning in a small bowl.
  3. Unfold the pastry sheet on a lightly floured surface. Roll the pastry sheet into a 14x10-inch rectangle. Cut in half lengthwise.  Brush with some of the egg mixture. Top one half of the puff pastry with the cheese mixture. Place the remaining half over the filling, egg-side down. Roll gently with a rolling pin to seal.
  4. Cut the pastry crosswise into 24 strips. Twist the strips and place on a baking sheet, pressing down the ends. Brush with remaining egg mixture.
  5. Bake for 10 minutes or until they  are golden brown. Cool on wire racks. Store completely cooled twists in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 4 days.

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Michele Borboa, MS
Michele Borboa, MS is a contributing editor for SheKnows.com specializing in health, fitness, and all things food. She is a veteran health and fitness professional, personal chef, and mom in Bozeman, Montana. She is also the author of the time-saving cookbook Make-Ahead Meals Made Healthy (Fair Winds Press, July 2011). You can contact Michele at michele.borboa@sheknows.com or give her a tweet at http://twitter.com/micheleeborboa.