Ever wonder why it’s so hard to find snacks that are toddler friendly without the added crap?! Yea, me too. So I scouted out tasty toddler friendly snacks that aren’t loaded with unnecessary crap.
What crap am I referring to?
Dyes. Artificial ingredients.
Questionable ingredients. Fake sweeteners.
You get the gist.
The snacking habit of toddlers is like a game of dodgeball – you’re throwing every ball (snack) you can, while trying not to get hit (rejected)!
As a parent to three young plant-based children (one doesn’t yet eat solids), I’m often asked for ideas on what to feed kids. Do kids have a sixth sense – when they find out a snack is healthy, then they automatically don’t like it?!
I’m starting to think so.
Here are some of my favorite toddler friendly snacks that are both toddler approved and guilt-free. Meaning you don’t have to feel bad about giving them to your kids.
If you haven’t read through my other blog posts, my husband and I transitioned to a plant based lifestyle right after our first daughter turned one. You can read more about that transition here.
As a parent the thought of a lifestyle change with children can be intimidating. You’ve been slinging goldfish for so long, how dare I expect you to stop?! I don’t. I’m just here to give you healthier options.
For the Sweet Tooth
Let’s start with the kids that love their sweets. You want to cut sugar, dyes and artificial additives but the sweet foods and candy is what they reach for first?
Here are some of my favorite alternatives:
Chocolate hummus with apple slices or strawberries
Rice cakes topped with chocolate hummus or almond butter
- Fruit smoothies – this is also an easy way to sneak in some greens!
Fruit – we always have apples and bananas on hand, plus any seasonal fruits. My kids go crazy for fruit salads!
Actually, we tend to have a larger variety of fruit on hand if you count frozen fruit as well. My kids love frozen mangos and strawberries. I take them out and slice them into smaller pieces so that they don’t hurt their teeth.
There are a lot of fruit bar and “roll up” type options that include only fruit. Our favorites are LARABARS and Real Fruit Yo Yo’s.
For a treat such as chocolate, which we do not do often in our house, reach for chocolate covered almonds, or dark chocolate chips (dairy free).
I’m more of a savory person. I could live on chips and salsa. However, I know that wouldn’t provide all the nutrients I need, dang it!
Hummus and veggies – test out the variety of flavors that are available in hummus, or try making your own!
Tip: Start with vegetables that have a neutral taste, such as cucumbers. Toddlers and older kids tend to enjoy steamed broccoli and cauliflower over eating them raw.
Bell peppers in various colors.
Olives – black olives tend to have a more neutral flavor than Greek or Kalamata olives.
Make your own sweet potato fries and pair with cashew cheese or a fructose free ketchup. Tip: You can now find sweet potato slices in your local freezer section at grocery stores. Be sure to read the labels as some of them come prepared with oil and salt and pepper.
Guacamole – we love avocados paired with black bean chips
Brown rice bread, or rice cakes with peanut, almond, or sun butter. Top these with bananas and we’ll have to move this to the sweet tooth list!
Popcorn sprinkled with nutritional yeast (referred to ask fairy dust in our house)
Trail mix. *Double check the ingredients so that there isn’t any added sugar or natural flavors.
Seaweed *no longer allowed in the car because it creates such a mess. Don’t say I didn’t warn you!
Below are a few of my favorite, make-at-home snacks:
AB & J Oats
Some children are picky when it comes to texture. Oatmeal is one of those hit or miss foods, even with my own toddlers! For when it does work, try overnight oats.
Waste-Free Tip: Overnight oats can work if you make oatmeal in the morning and you have leftovers that you don’t want to go to waste.
Fill a mason jar with the cooked oatmeal and add plant milk (about half the amount of oats). You can add fresh fruit, ground flax, nut butters, the possibilities are endless!
I add preserves or no-sugar-added strawberry jam and a TBS full of almond butter. Place the lid on the jar and shake to combine. Store in the refrigerator for 2-3 days.
If you don’t have leftover cooked oatmeal, then you’ll need quick cooking oats (rolled or old fashioned). If using steel cut then plan on using ¼ cup more liquid.
½ cup rolled oats (GF optional)
⅔ cup plant milk
1 TBS chia seeds
Sweetener (optional – monk fruit, maple syrup)
And while you are at home you can make this yummy pudding to fulfill their chocolate sweet tooth!
Cacao Chia Pudding
1 ½ cups unsweetened Plant Milk (i.e. oat, coconut or almond)
⅓ cup Chia Seeds
¼ cup Cacao Powder
¼ cup Maple Syrup or Date Syrup
½ tsp Vanilla Extract
⅓ cup fresh or frozen Raspberries or Strawberries
Add all ingredients to a medium-large mixing bowl. Whisk gently, assuring that the cacao powder mixes without clumps.
Refrigerate for 6 hours or overnight. The chia seeds will cause the mixture to thicken to a gel-pudding consistency.
To serve, pour pudding into serving bowls or keep in mason jars and top with strawberries or raspberries. Pudding will keep in the refrigerator for 2-3 days.
Energy bites, protein balls, whatever you want to call them… I refer to them as nut balls because it’s more entertaining that way. This is a simple, yet dense no-bake snack.
1 cup rolled Oats (I prefer GF)
½ cup ground Flaxseed
½ cup Favorite Nut Butter (crunchy adds more texture)
⅓ cup Maple or Date Syrup
1 tsp Vanilla extract
Optional add-ins: ⅓ cup chocolate chips, ⅓ cup Goji Berries
Mix oats and flaxseed together in a medium bowl. Add but butter, syrup and vanilla. Mix until well combined. Gently fold in optional add-ins. Form 1” balls and arrange on baking sheet. Refrigerate for about 1 hour. This helps balls keep their shape.
Convenience is Key
As I mentioned some of our go-to’s are LARABARS and fruit yo yo’s. I also slice apples and have them ready to go in mason jars or stasher bags.
You’ll notice I did include some processed foods, because convenience is a must when searching for toddler friendly snacks. No one wants the kiddos to become ‘hangry’! Keep in mind that Less is More when it comes to ingredients!
We found fig bars to be another top choice of ours. If you need to be conscious of allergy friendly snacks then Enjoy Life is a great brand. They offer sweet energy balls, seed and fruit based bites and even cookies for on the go.
Another favorite brand of ours is Brad’s Kale Chips. They have a few different flavors to choose from. Our favorite is cheez, which is seasoned with nutritional yeast.
If you want to feed your children better and you just don’t know where to start… My first piece of unsolicited advice is this, don’t overcomplicate things.
These lists are to provide you with a basis for toddler friendly (nutritional) snack suggestions. If they don’t take to them right away, don’t get discouraged.
Taste buds do change over time, just as our guts do. Our bodies adapt, and we want them to adapt in the right way without side effects or negative symptoms attached.
Set the Example
When your kids see you eating food that you enjoy, it naturally sparks curiosity. Eat processed foods and they will think that’s what they should do too. Eat whole foods and your kids will follow your lead.