20 Dietitian-Approved Healthy Snacks Kids Will Actually Eat

20 Dietitian-Approved Healthy Snacks Kids Will Actually Eat
Image: kirin_photo/iStock.com


When kids are small, they're happy to exist on breast milk or formula and the occasional puree or glob of banana. But once they hit the toddler years, it's pretty much snack time all the time -- even into their teen years. My kids spend probably 75 percent of their day asking for snacks. And while I do my best to limit their snacking to one to two times a day and give them healthy options, sometimes they just get tired of eating the same old stuff over and over again. That's where the Nutrition Twins come in. Tammy Lakatos Shames, RD, CDN, CFT, and Lyssie Lakatos, RD, CDN, CFT, are pros when it comes to feeding kids snacks that are actually good for them and that they'll enjoy eating.

The key, Tammy tells CafeMom, is to look for the right ingredients. The first thing to check out on the ingredient labels is sugar. "The sugar to be concerned about is 'added sugars,' and for kids between the ages of 2 and 18, it should be limited to 25 grams a day, which is 6 teaspoons -- about 100 calories," says Tammy. "Added sugars are any type of sugar, including table sugar, fructose and honey -- and they are sometimes added in processing foods and beverages, but can even be added at the table. The good news is that as of July 2018 all food labels are required to show the added sugar, so it makes it easier for parents!"

In addition to low added sugar, the twins advise choosing snacks that are high in protein and fiber, which help to keep kids "satisfied, stabilize their blood sugar (and moods!) and prevent energy highs and crashes." Even for kids who are picky eaters, Tammy says to keep putting healthy options in front of them and get creative. Luckily, the Nutrition Twins gave CafeMom 20 brilliant kid snack ideas -- both fresh foods and packaged finds -- to help parents do just that.

  • Fruit Kebabs

    fruit kabab with strawberries and cantaloupe

    "Sometimes you may have to get a little creative by making it fun for the kids," Tammy tells CafeMom. "Let them make fruit kebabs and a healthy dip for the kebabs!"

  • Kind Kids Bars


    For a great packaged snack, the twins recommend Kind Kids Bars. "As a registered dietitian, I feel good giving these to my kids because they’re made with 100 percent whole grains from oats, sorghum and quinoa and count as half of whole grain serving," Tammy tells CafeMom. "There’s no artificial flavors, colors, or preservatives and there’s 25 percent less sugar than the leading kids granola bar."

  • Banana Dogs

    hand peeling banana

    This is a creative twist on a hot dog that is actually good for little ones. Explains Lyssie, "[It's a] banana topped with peanut butter and wrapped in a whole-wheat bun." So easy, so genius!

  • Bean Salsa

    pico de gallo

    Even the Nutrition Twins know that "kids love to dip!" So let them with a healthy bean salsa and some pita chips or vegetable sticks.

  • Wonderful Pistachios 100-Calorie Packs


    Pistachios aren't the first thing most parents reach for, but why not? The Wonderful packs come in three flavors and can help beat the vending machine rush when we're out and about. Plus, Tammy notes, pistachios "contain the trio of fiber, plant-protein and unsaturated fats that can help keep [kids] feeling full longer, while the green and purple hues from the pistachios signify that there are antioxidants inside."

  • Frozen Yogurt-Covered Grapes

    girl eating grapes

    Regular grapes are great, but to make it more fun, Lyssie suggests topping them first. "Dip grapes in yogurt and freeze them," she says. "Kids have fun choosing the flavors of yogurt in advance that they want to try!"

  • English Muffin Pizzas

    english muffins with pizza sauce

    This is a quick go-to that can get kids eating more vegetables without even noticing. Parents can use low-fat cheese, no-sugar-added tomato sauce, and then let kids make funny faces with their toppings.

  • Pearls Olives To-Go


    As Tammy notes, these little olive to-go cups are a "great on the go, portion-controlled, easy way to get healthy fats and are a plant-based, low-sugar alternative to other snack options." She suggests jazzing them up with some hummus, or adding them to a cracker with low-fat cheese. And there is no juice in the cups and no pits, so no mess!

  • Low-Fat Yogurt Dip

    yogurt and fruit

    Low-fat yogurt is a great, easy dip for all kinds of different fruits. Once parents make yogurt-covered grapes, they can save the leftover yogurt for strawberries, apples, pears, peaches -- anything the kids will eat!

  • Bob's Red Mill Organic Oatmeal


    Instant oatmeal is notoriously packed with sugar, but this one from Bob's Red Mill isn't. "After they’ve had an active day of sports or are particularly hungry, these instant oatmeal cups are perfect with 8 grams of fiber and 8 grams of protein," says Tammy. "As a nutritionist, I also love that they can be made in minutes by simply adding hot water ... My girls' favorite is the Orange Cranberry Oatmeal cups."

  • Avocado Toast

    avocado toast

    It's not just for millennials, OK? Kids can eat it, too! Lyssie recommends layering avocado and a sliced hard-boiled egg on the toast for a yummy protein boost.

  • Nut Butter

    peanut butter

    Like yogurt, nut butters are a healthy dip for just about anything kids can dream up. Pair with fruits and veggies for a healthy boost that still makes kids feel like they're having a special treat.

  • Eggland's Best Hard Cooked Eggs


    Put the pots and pans away, because these babies are already cooked. "Eggland’s Best eggs are a perfect, easy, protein-packed snack for kids and they're especially great because Eggland’s Best uses an all vegetarian hen feed so they have double the omegas and 6X the vitamin D of other eggs," Lyssie tells CafeMom.

  • Cucumber Sandwiches


    "Cucumber slices make the 'bread,' then layer with cheese, tomatoes or fresh sliced chicken or turkey," recommends Lyssie. "You can also layer with cottage cheese."

  • Fruit Smoothies

    girl drinking smoothie

    Use low-fat Greek yogurt and let kids choose their own favorite fruits to throw in for a quick snack that tastes like a dessert and is packed full of nutrients.

  • Mott's Unsweetened Applesauce

    apple slices

    Applesauce can be a healthy choice when its unsweetened "Mott’s has on-the-go pouches that are a super convenient option and they have a variety of real fruit-flavored unsweetened applesauce with no sugar added," says Lyssie.

  • Cece's Veggie Co. Shells & Cheese


    "This healthy version of mac and cheese is made with organic butternut squash, and kids love it!" Lyssie tells CafeMom. "With only 100 calories a serving, kids still get 4 grams of protein -- add a few extra small cubes of low-fat cheddar cheese to boost protein and calcium!"

  • Frogs on a Log

    celery with toppings

    Move over, ants on a log. There's a better option in town. While peanut butter on celery is awesome and still recommended, Lyssie also shared the idea to top celery with cottage cheese and grape slices or raisins.

  • Pita Bread and a Dip

    pita bread with dip

    Pita bread can be sliced and eaten with a healthy dip like salsa. It can also be used to make fun pita pizzas that kids can customize themselves.

  • Banana Slices on Crunchy Nut Butter

    peanut butter and bananas
    john shepherd/iStock.com

    It's a classic flavor combination for a reason. Peanut butter and bananas are sweet and satisfying but still a healthy combination that won't leave kids bouncing off the walls.

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