Among the common myths of veganism are the beliefs that the vegan diet is unaffordable to the masses and vegan foods are inherently healthy. But with more people than ever embracing the vegan lifestyle, and companies catching on, it’s just as easy to find sugary, processed, packaged vegan treats. When it comes to perfect snack-time foods for our little ones, it’s important to think outside the box. Healthy snacks with minimal to no processing, no refined sugar, and no artificial colors and flavorings are not only best for our growing children, but also more friendly on our wallets. Here are some of my snack-time favorites to get the ideas flowing:
Hummus and Veggies
Kids love to dip finger foods. Carrot and celery sticks, cucumbers, red pepper slices, broccoli, and cauliflower instantly become more fun with a smooth, creamy spoonful or two of hummus. You may want to make the hummus a little milder in flavor than you’d usually prefer to suit a young palate.
Nut Butter and Apples
We’re still dippin’! Homemade peanut butter and apples is like the far-less-processed-and-sugary version of the peanut butter and jelly sandwich. And we all know how much kids love a good PB &J! Of course, other nut butters are also delicious for apple dippin’, and if you have a high-speed blender, any nut in your pantry or freezer can instantly become a yummy, minimally processed nut butter.
Ants on a Log
Cute snack creations always pique kids’ interest. We all eat with our eyes, but children are far more interested in fun food designs rather than elegant plating. They’re going to choose a smiley faced fruit person or puzzle piece sandwich over the three green beans drizzled with a red wine reduction every time. Ants on a log, celery filled with peanut butter and topped with raisins, is just an example of a cute imaginative snack, but the possibilities are endless.
While store bought granola is often loaded with refined sugar and preservatives, you have complete control over the ingredients when you make it in your own home. If you have a dehydrator, nothing beats raw granola with oats, coconut oil, hemp seeds, ground flax, and just a hint of maple syrup and sea salt.
Homemade Trail Mix
Like granola, packaged trail mix often contains too much sugar, salt, and other junk you don’t want to feed your family. Throwing together your own trail mix is easy, more budget-friendly, and allows you to customize it with your kids’ favorite dried fruits, nuts, and seeds. No more picking out “the good stuff” and trashing the rest!
Raw Date Balls
Ah, date balls. They’re that sweet dessert treat kids, okay all of us, crave without the refined sugar. All it takes is dates, a little coconut butter, a food processor, and some coconut for rolling and you have an instant sweet snack everyone loves. They can be flattened into cookies or shaped into energy bars, and leave a lot of room to get creative with different mix-ins and flavors.
Who doesn’t love popcorn? Kids love to watch it pop, pop, pop and when you make it on the stove rather than counting on a microwave bag, you can choose your own healthy oils to get things popping. A little sea salt and you’ve got a filling, healthy, classic snack for movie or game night. And if you like nutritional yeast try a “cheesy” popcorn!
Smoothies and Green Juice
Smoothies and juices are a great way to incorporate more greens into your child’s diet, and with the help of a frozen banana or an apple, they taste fruity and refreshing. Our favorite kid-friendly juice is carrot apple romaine cucumber celery. Good thing we don’t have to fit that on a bottle!
All of these can be great on-the-go snacks as well, and when you pack them up and send them off in reusable baggies or containers, you’re not only doing something great for your kids and your wallet, but the planet as well. Now that’s beautiful snacking!
Keri Risse: As the author of I Eat Trees, a vegan food and lifestyle blog, Keri loves to chronicle the adventures of her little vegan family. She has a passion for creating delicious cruelty-free recipes, photography, writing, and healthy living. Keri earned her BA in psychology and is currently a stay-at-home mother of one, as well as a creative technologist, working alongside her husband to help small businesses on the internet.