If you’re like my family, you are constantly hearing one or more of your kids say, “Mommy, I’m hungry, can I have a snack?” Sometimes, I’m delighted to prepare something for them and will lovingly create a fruit or veggie plate. Other times, it’s like they’re asking me to give birth all over again, and the thought of making something for them is unfathomable. Especially when it’s 10 minutes before dinner and I’m obviously almost done with making it. Or 10 minutes after they have had said dinner. Or 10 minutes after they’ve brushed their teeth and are getting ready for bed. Those times just infuriate me, and I feel like yelling that the $#@% kitchen is closed!
It occurred to me, however, that the more I can empower them to be independent, to listen to their own body cues for hunger, and at the same time help them help themselves to food (and maybe even help get something ready for someone else in the family), the more I am preparing them for the real world.
Many mothers can get into a back and forth about what their kids can have at a particular time. “What should I have mommy?” (Insert whiny voice.) “How about an apple?” “No!” “How about a banana?” “No!” “How about some carrots and hummus?” “No!”
My simple rule is that they can have anything, as long as it doesn’t come in a box and it includes some kind of fruit or vegetable.
Then, I honestly don’t care when they want the snack because I know they’re getting what they need nutritionally and I don’t have to constantly be in the kitchen making something. Who’s with me?
So, here are my favorite snacks that my kiddos can make on their own, at their own volition and without asking mom or dad for permission.
1. Dates with natural peanut butter or almond butter
Provide plastic or non-sharp knives for splitting the dates and smearing the PB in them. My kids love this.
2. Pre-cut veggies with guac or hummus
3. Yogurt, granola, and berry parfait
Even my 5-year-old can make this one on her own. She pulls out a bowl, gets a yogurt smoothie and berries from the fridge, then pours some granola on top.
4. Raw veggies
My 7-year-old feels amazing about herself when I let her cut up cucumbers and peppers on her own. She doesn’t cut in the most pristine way but, honestly, who cares? Again, make sure the knife is sharp enough to penetrate the veggies but not too sharp to create bloody mishaps.
I bought this handy tool a couple of years ago, and the kids literally fight over who will use it first. They are independent, they have fun, and they eat strawberries in the process. Buy one!
6. Rice cake with cream cheese and sliced cucumber
They love the crunchiness of this.
7. Baked chickpeas tossed in cinnamon and coconut sugar
I make these in the early part of the week and keep them in the cabinet for the kids to take as snacks whenever they want. Simply open a can of chickpeas, then drain them and dry them with a paper towel. Spread on a cookie sheet and toss on the cinnamon and coconut sugar. Spray with oil spray all over and bake for 45 minutes at 350 degrees.
My 10-year-old can make a fried egg on her own. She usually makes one or two and then has baby carrots or avocado slices on the side. She feels pretty awesome being able to use the stove. Obviously, spend time teaching them kitchen safety basics. (Suggested for ages 10 and up.)
9. Cut up cantaloupe or watermelon
I delegate all the melon cutting to my hubby. But once he does this, it’s fair game for everyone. We pull out toothpicks and go to town. We keep extras in the fridge in Tupperware for anyone to take at any time.
10. Trader Joe’s Inner Peas
This one is a bit of a cheat in the healthy department — but it’s easy, accessible, tasty, and much better than Doritos!
Let me hear your ideas below in the comments section. I’m always looking for more ideas!
Jenny is a wife, mother of three delicious girls, a Health Educator and Eating Psychology Coach. She is passionate about helping people attain a beautiful relationship with food, body, and self. She enjoys writing, traveling, cooking and entertaining, and taking crazy classes like improv 101 in her free time. She can be reached at [email protected] or by visiting her website: www.jennyedencoaching.com.