Healthy & Quick Toddler Snacks

Coming up with healthy snack options for Berlin is a never ending quest in our home. Seeing as she eats non-stop, I have to be prepared to feed her around the clock. I whole heartedly believe in the grazing mentality for a child; allowing them to eat as they please, and eat several small portions, rather than sit down to a full meal. I trust a child’s natural intuition to eat when they are hungry, and its our job to provide them nutritious food options. But as easy as it sounds, its not so easy to come up with healthy options when your toddler is suddenly demanding food, or when you are busy out and about running errands. While the simple solution is to reach for a box of crackers or cheddar bunnies (believe me, I know!), its not providing our active toddler with the nutrients they need to sustain their ever so rapidly growing little bodies and brains.

I was recently in this snack snack rut; it was bananas, yogurt, and cheese for every meal. So I sat down and jotted a quick list of all my snack ideas so I could be better prepared. I have found it most helpful to review the list and prep her snacks in the evening. Then there is no full on toddler meltdown the next day when hunger strikes. It means less tantrums from her and fewer times being caught off guard for me. All in all, it has made our days go smoother.

Here is a roundup of my latest snack list. Please feel free to jump in and add your favorites, always loving to hear new ideas!

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Apple Pizzas: Core an apple, slice, and top with almond butter and toppings of choice (granola, coconut flakes, slivered nuts, goji berries…)

Roasted fruit: top fruit of choice (peaches, plums bananas…) with butter and honey and bake at 400 degrees for 15 minutes, top with yogurt and nuts

Steamed Veggies: boil an inch of water in a small pan, add veggies and steam for 5 minutes, top with butter and unsalted Herbamare

Ants on a log: cut celery sticks in half and top with sunflower butter and raisins

Veggie chips: slice any veggie (kale, carrots, sweet potatoes or zucchini) into thin slices, top with olive oil and parmesan cheese, and bake for approx 15 mins at 350 degrees

Frozen banana: dip banana in yogurt, roll in ground flax seed or blended walnuts and freeze

Almond butter banana: spread almond butter on banana and sprinkle with coconut flakes

Tomato surprise: slice cherry tomato in half, fill with cream cheese and top with small slice of avocado

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Fruit skewers: alternate fruit with cheese on a wooden skewer

Frozen yogurt: mix yogurt with flax or chia or drizzle with honey and freeze (I freeze in reusable toddler snack packs)

Canned salmon topped with avocado (buy only wild Alaskan canned salmon)

Boiled Eggs: great to make a batch ahead and have on hand all week

Handful of sliced, organic, raw nuts: almonds, cashews, walnuts…

Raw Seeds: pumpkin, sesame, hemp…

Fresh figs topped with goat cheese or dried figs in off-season

Dried fruits: cranberries, mango, goji berries…(use sparingly as the sugar content is high and can damage toddler teeth)

Poached chicken: boil organic chicken with some bay leaves and garlic for approx 10 minutes

Frozen homemade waffles: here is a great buckwheat spinach recipe I make for Berlin all the time

Frozen homemade pancakes

Edamame

Seaweed snax

Smoothies: here is a link to one of Berlin’s favs

Hopefully this list helps you prepare for your toddler’s never ending hunger. Once again, please feel free to add any snacks you and your little one love.



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Berlin Snacks: Coconut Pineapple Popsicles

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The weather here continues to be unseasonably warm, its been upper 80’s for days in the city, which is unheard of for San Francisco. This is the second heat wave in less than a month and I’ve been desperate to whip up something to cool us down.

This simple popsicle treat was just the trick, and not only was it refreshing, but it also helped with Berlin’s teething, got to love that! We haven’t been on a full shopping excursion for weeks, so I just threw whatever I could find into the blender, trying to include some greens, fat and fiber. I think it turned out pretty good for a “cleaning out the fridge” recipe. Here it is…

Coconut Pineapple Popsicles

1 can of Organic Coconut Milk

1 1/2 cups frozen pineapple chunks

1 cup organic kale

1 banana

2 tablespoons chia seeds

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Place all ingredients into Vitamix (or high power blender) and mix until smooth. Pour mixture into popsicle molds, making sure to fill completely to the brim and insert popsicle stick. Freeze for a min of 3-4 hours.

Once the pops are ready, place into a shallow dish of warm water for approx 30 seconds to loosen up the mold, then carefully pull the pops out of the mold.

If you don’t have popsicle molds they can easily be made in a large ice cube tray or a few dixie cups. Simply pour the mixture into the trays (or cups), insert a wooden popsicle stick into the center. Cover with saran wrap and freeze.

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If your little one is not ready to eat popsicles just yet, simply serve it up as a smoothie. It provides perfect nutrition for the littles.

This picture cracks me up, she was pretty skeptical on her first bite, but she warmed up to it. Plus she downed a whole cup of the smoothie.



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Berlin Snacks: Cheesy Crackers

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You might have heard me mention before that Berlin is obsessed with crackers. I don’t know when it all started, but I will tell you there is no turning back. For awhile I was trying to ignore her passion for the salty snack in hopes it would pass, but my denial was getting us nowhere. Every grocery trip was like a broken record, “crackers, crackers” throughout the entire store until I would finally give in (if you don’t know I’m a total pushover when it comes to my daughter). In all honesty, I’m ok with her having crackers on occasion, but since its grown into a love affair I’ve become a bit more concerned with all the processed ingredients and even more so the high sodium.

So this week I set out to make my own healthy, low sodium crackers. Let me start by saying this was no easy task. It took me three tries to get to this recipe and I still feel like it could use some tweaking. However, Berlin was satisfied and ate almost the whole batch in one sitting, so I dubbed this recipe complete.

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Cheesy Crackers

2 cups blanched almond flour

4 tablespoons nutritional yeast

1/4 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon (optional)

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 egg (or flax egg to make vegan)

1-2 tablespoons of water

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Preheat oven to 350 degrees

In a large mixing bowl mix all dry ingredients together.

In a smaller bowl whisk egg and oil together.

Pour egg mixture into dry ingredients and mix until a dough forms. If the dough is crumbly add the water until dough is solid (I needed approx 1 tablespoon).

Cut two pieces of parchment paper the size of your baking sheet. Lay the first piece on a cutting board (or counter) and place dough in the middle.

Lay second piece of parchment paper over the dough and roll out until dough is about 1/4″ thick.

Cut crackers with a pizza roller into desired size and poke a hole in the middle (I used a chopstick).

Then transfer the parchment paper with the dough onto the baking sheet and bake for approx 10-12 minutes

I wanted the crackers to be soft and chewy for Berlin so they were less of a choking hazard, but if you like your crackers crispier then I would suggest baking them closer to 15-20 minutes.

These can easily be made vegan by substituting the egg with a flax egg or they could be made with dairy by using real cheddar cheese instead of nutritional yeast.

Hope your little one enjoys.




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Berlin Snacks: Cherry Cacao Date Bars

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I belong to a local mother’s group here in the city that is mostly made up of health conscious moms.  Time and time again, the topic of healthy snack options for toddlers comes up in the email group. So I thought it would be a good chance to feature some unprocessed, low sugar snack options here on the blog.

I feel like most moms these days want to feed their children healthy snacks, but don’t know where to begin. I know, I myself struggled with this when it became necessary to always have snacks on hand for Berlin. I knew I didn’t want to get stuck in the typical “Cheerio and Goldfish” rut that so many parents find themselves in, nor was I sold on the so-called “healthy” Green Puff options sold at the health foods stores (if you shop Whole Foods you know what I’m talking about…). My motto is, more than five ingredients listed on the package means its not a healthy option. Of course, there are expectations to this rule, but if you can’t pronounce the ingredients listed or don’t usually cook with those ingredients in your own home, then its most likely over processed and not suitable for your toddler (or yourself for that matter).

Due to Berlin’s never ending hunger (I swear the girl has a tapeworm!) and my resistance to buy processed snacks, I have spent many hours perfecting snack recipes that both satisfy her and give her the nutrients she needs as a growing toddler and I have finally found the time to start sharing them with you.

This first recipe I actually discovered while I was pregnant with Berlin. I was obsessed with Lara Bars, but figured they must be easy to make-seeing as they only had two ingredients in them; typically dates and a nut option. I googled the recipe and discovered it was as simple as I thought and since then have been experimenting with different ingredient options. The beauty of these bars is you can make them to your liking, you can use any kind of nuts, seeds, dried fruits, protein powders…I mean the possibilities are endless.

This particular recipe is full of nuts Berlin likes and I added the cacao powder to give it some extra sweetness ( to ensure she will eat them!). I also added chia seeds as a way to provide some extra fiber and omega-3 fatty acids (you can read more of their benefits on a previous recipe I did here).

If you love Lara bars, give this recipe a try. Its really simple and will save you tons of money!

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Cherry Cacao Date Bars

2 cups of Medjool dates (suggest soaking them in water for 15 mins to soften them)

1/2 cup of raw cashews

1/4 cup of cup of cacao powder

2 tablespoons of chia seeds

1/4 cup of unsalted sunflower seeds

1/4 cup of dried cherries

Place all ingredients (up to the sunflower seeds) into a food processor. Grind until it becomes dough like-this only took moments in my food processor.

If it becomes too dry or won’t process add small amounts of water until its a good, sticky consistency.

Lastly, add the sunflower seeds and dried cherries and process for another minute-these can be more chunky in the mixture.

Next place the mixture in a baking sheet and spread even in the dish, you may need to place wax paper on top of the mixture and press down with your hands.

You can then place them in the fridge and wait for them to harden for about 30 minutes, then cut into bars.

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This recipe only takes moments, especially once you’ve made it a few times. You can also double the recipe and wrap the bars individually and store in the freezer, that way you always have a handy snack to grab on your way out the door.

Please let me know if you try this or a variation of the recipe, would love to know what you think. Enjoy!




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Berlin Bites: Kale and Quinoa Bars

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Kale & Quinoa Bars
1/2 cup millet flour

1 cup cooked quinoa

1 cup organic oats

1/3 cup minced kale (I used a food processor)

1/3 cup almond butter

1 tablespoon chia seeds

1/4 cup brown rice syrup

1 egg

1 ripe mashed banana

1/2 teaspoon vanilla

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

Preheat oven to 375 degrees and spray a baking dish with olive oil spray

Combine all ingredients and mix well

Pour into greased baking dish and bake for approx 20 minutes

The consistency of the bars turned out to be more like bread due to the millet flour I used (as well as the baking dish), but didn’t stop Berlin from gobbling them up. I added the kale to the recipe as an experiment since its been harder to get Berlin to eat all her veggies lately, she didn’t seem to mind it, however if I was making the bars for myself I would definitely eliminate it and add some maple syrup for more sweetness. But as is they are a perfect nutritious snack for a toddler.

Please remember to cover and refrigerate the baked bars immediately as they go bad quickly.  I ended up cutting up the bars into serving sizes and freezing each individually to preserve them longer.

Enjoy!

Adapted from here.

 



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