I recently had my second child (4 months ago this week!), and my health and fitness goals are drastically different. While I still make it out the door to run five days per week, my focus has been balancing providing the healthiest (although far from perfect) meals for my family while working full time and traveling for work and pleasure. While my almost three year old has never been a big eater, she’s not picky. She eats like a bird so snack time is a huge opportunity for nutrition. I’ll admit that my daughter has had M&M’s for breakfast and French fries for dinner (I did cry inside while this was happening), but I try to avoid these on a regular basis. I always have snacks with us (for her and myself – I’m ALWAYS hungry since I’m breastfeeding) and I’ve noticed if I only keep healthy ones around, my daughter will eat them. She sometimes whines and refuses them and as soon as she realizes the healthy snacks are her only option, if she’s really hungry, she does cave. Here are some of my staples:
Fresh fruit – I’ve found that if I bring some cut up fruit with us while out and about, it helps curb hunger or round out a restaurant meal. As a family we do like to eat out, and my daughter’s all time favorite food is Chipotle’s quesadillas, so I grab some fruit as we head out the door and she’ll munch on it in the car or while we wait in line. She’s thrilled to get a quesadilla, and I’m happy she ate more than cheese and white carbs for dinner. I usually keep cut up mango, melon (made into bite size pieces with my melon baller), grapes, or clementimes (when in season) around. She’ll also eat whole fruit – small apples, pears, and peaches - as well. I’ve even snatched leftover veggies (roasted Brussel sprouts, cauliflower, and roasted broccoli are a fav in our house) for an appetizer while we wait for food at a restaurant.
Dried or freeze dried fruit – Little boxes of raisins are in the diaper bag, my purse, the car, pockets, nooks, and crannies. We’ve also had good luck with freeze dried blueberries (with a side of wet ones) and freeze dried broccoli and pea pods (from Trader Joe’s). They add crunch like chips but maintain the fiber and nutrient benefits of fruits and veggies.
Kid-friendly bars – Bars are not ideal, but for our lifestyle and for my kid, they work. We oftentimes have to weave around meltdowns in the morning, so a Z-bar (Clif bar for kids) or a Larabar make a easy grab-and-go breakfast. Washed down with a glass of milk, the peanut butter cookie Larabar does the trick. My husband let’s the chocolate chip ones sneak into the grocery cart once in a while too. When I’m really planning ahead, half of a peanut butter and jelly sandwich accomplishes the same goal. This has worked well as an early morning breakfast on the way to the airport.
Yogurt – My kid loves yogurt. She could spend hours in the yogurt aisle in the grocery store and thinks all the different shaped containers are actually different food groups. She usually hones in on the ones with candy or cookie toppings and after some arguing, we agree upon Chobani kids pouches (I love the pouches because they’re not too messy) or Stoneyfield tubes, drinkable yogurt, or cups. Obviously these snacks require refrigeration, but some yogurt pouches are shelf stable. Cheese sticks or Cabot cheese bars are also great to grab when a cooler is available. Last time we made a picnic lunch, the cheese bar made it into the middle of the PB&J sandwich….
Peanut butter or nut butter – Thank goodness my daughter doesn’t have a nut allergy or she’d never have grown out of her 12-month clothes. She’s tiny and as I mentioned before, not a huge eater, so I am a fan of this healthy fat to pack in some calories with not a lot of bites. She’s been know to double fist peanut butter spoons and loves almond butter as well. The peanut butter and almond butter pouches from Justin’s are a mainstay in our house. Sometimes the peanut butter gets on an apple, but most of the time it gets squeezed right into the mouth. Another messier snack, but they’re worth it for her enjoyment and my piece of mind.
Pouches – I always travel with baby food pouches. While these fruit and veggies pouches don’t still have the benefit of fiber, they still are full of vitamins and minerals and make a great snack on the go. We travel a lot to visit family, so the pouches help us in a hunger pinch or to round out a meal on the road. It’s also an aisle in the grocery store where my daughter gets to have some control; I’ll allow her to pick the pouches and she's in heaven.
What are your go-to snacks for your kiddos? What foods are always in the car or diaper bag? I'd love to hear more ideas!