Sometimes it feels like one of the most difficult jobs of motherhood is actually feeding the little boogers. What was once their favorite food now absolutely disgusts them, they’re always hungry but nothing ever sounds good, and introducing healthy foods is sometimes a nightmare (like.. the fact that we’re feeding them a vegetable is the absolute meanest thing in the world, right?)
While I wish I could sit here and tell you that I always have the time (and patience!) to make elaborate meals for my own kiddo, I’d be lying. Between running a business, a household, and chauffeuring our son to multiple baseball games and practices and every other sort of activity in between, I just don’t have time for something super time intensive. BUT. I promise you that teaching our kids healthy habits and ensuring they are getting a balanced, nutritious diet on the regular is still possible.
My three biggest tips:
- Ditch the processed as often as possible
- Opt for fresh fruit and veggies as much as possible
- Spend time researching ingredients that go into our foods so you can learn how to make healthy swaps
Bonus tip: Have a little grace. Sometimes we don’t have time, so we do have to grab what’s easy. It happens.
I promise you that it doesn’t have to be as difficult as we (and I mean they) sometimes make it. I’m sharing my five best proven kid-approved snacks that are perfect for after school or summertime treats now that school is about to be out for the summer!
- Gluten Free, Dairy Free Donuts
In our house, I try and create as many gluten-free, dairy-free treats as possible, selfishly, because I can’t have either of those food groups! And if I’m going to make something as yummy as donuts, Lord knows I’m going to want a bite! (or five whole donuts to myself.. #truth).
In being 100% transparent, you could totally make these donuts from scratch – but I have found the perfect mom hack that will save you a little bit of time and energy! Simple Mills has the best gluten-free muffin/cake mix all ready to go, and all you have to do is add your eggs, vanilla extract, and oil (I prefer coconut oil for baking). One thing to keep in mind, and I haven’t quite figured out why this is – but the chocolate mix sometimes ends up a little more dry than the vanilla mix – so you may need to adjust your add-ins based on that knowledge/knock a few minutes off your bake time!
You can use this mix to create muffins, cupcakes, or even a little cake – but in our house we think donuts are super fun! You can pick up a cute little donut tray at your nearest Target, and you’re good to go!
Eat plain, or drizzle with your favorite topping! For ours, I melted a little bit of almond butter in the microwave and drizzled over the top! A little chocolate nut butter donut?! Yes please!
Just follow the directions on the back of your Simple Mills box and you’re set! One box mix will yield about 12 donuts.
2. Homemade Trail Mix
Getting your kiddos engaged and “cooking” with you in the kitchen is one of the best ways to not only spend some quality time together, but it’s the perfect opportunity to show them how FUN eating healthy foods really is. We love making our own version of trail mix. Since there’s no heavy baking required, you can make the kids feel pretty important by giving them their own job in the mix, and you can change up this recipe every time depending on what sounds good! We love to add organic popcorn, oil-free nuts, crackers, pretzels, and dried fruits into our mix. Just be conscious when choosing dried fruits that you’re selecting ones that don’t have any added sugar.
3. Homemade Lunchables
This is another super easy hack that my son absolutely loves! It’s the first thing he grabs everyday when he gets home from school – that is, if my husband hasn’t eaten them all! I always try and buy lunch meat, fresh fruit, organic whole grain crackers, and other healthy quick snacks in bulk. Mix and match in pre-sectioned containers and you have your own little lunchable ready to go.
Some of our favorite ingredients for these include: turkey jerky, cheese cubes, grapes, baby carrots, deli meat, Simple Mills crackers (or a whole grain option if my son picks), apple slices, fresh strawberries, celery sticks, peanut butter/nut butters, and more. Just like the trail mix, have a little fun and mix and match your favorite foods to combine the perfect snack.
4. Honey Almond Butter Rice Crispy Treats
These are so good you may want to actually NOT make them, because you’ll run the risk of eating the entire pan 😉
While Rice Crispy Treats are always amazing, when you buy them premade from the store, you’re getting all the sugar from the marshmallows. Making them yourself at home allows you to choose healthier, organic ingredients that are full of healthy fats, and I love having a little more control over the foods we’re putting into our bodies.
What you’ll need:
5 cups of rice crispy cereal (I always opt for a gluten-free, organic brand)
3/4 cup organic natural honey
3/4 cup all natural nut butter (no sugars or added oils)
a pinch of sea salt
a “dash” of vanilla extract – optional
Because the honey and nut butter combined is so sweet, you don’t really need the “dash” of vanilla extract; use your judgement and your own taste buds to decide!
dried fruit (we love gogi berries because they’re a super food that’s super healthy)
cacao nibs for the chocolate lovers
What you’ll do:
Melt the honey and peanut butter together until well combined (you can do this on the stovetop or in the microwave, just be sure not to overheat)
Combine with the rice crispies until mixed thoroughly. Add in your optional ingredients (like the gogi berries and cacoa nibs if you’re using them)
Spread evenly into an 8×11 cooking pan (you may want to grease or put parchment paper down first)
Chill in the fridge for about 45 minutes
Makes anywhere between 12-20 servings, depending how big you cut those pieces!
5. Cauliflower Crust Pizza Bites
This is another fave in our household! It only takes about 20 minutes total to make, and it’s a great way to sneak those veggies in without your kiddos even realizing it.
While I haven’t tried making my own crust from scratch yet (remember, busy mom alert?) I’ve found a brand I totally love and it’s 100% kid approved!
My go to crust: Caulipower Crust (midwest friends, you can find it in the Health Market of your local Hy Vee! If they don’t happen to carry it, you can always request it to be brought in!)
What you’ll need:
Your favorite pizza toppings! My seven year old loves these:
What you’ll do:
Preheat your oven to 425 degrees and line a baking or pizza sheet
Spread your pizza sauce evenly over your crust
Evenly distribute your toppings
Cover with your cheese (you can also do this on as the bottom layer right on top of your sauce, or do half on bottom, half on top
Bake in the oven for 15 minutes
Let it cool a couple minutes before cutting into slices!
Okay gang. There you have it – my top five healthier snack options for the kids (and you!) to enjoy. If you have a tried and true snack of your own, I’d love to know what it is!
What to know more about Natasha?
Natasha Funderburk is a wife, boymom, and owner of the activewear brand Harper & Sky. She is certified through the AFPA in Nutrition & Wellness, and is currently studying to become a NASM-CPT. Her goal is to encourage women and families to find the joy in living healthier lifestyles, and promote emotional healing and empowerment through movement and holistic wellness. When she’s not watching her son play baseball, she can be found on various writing platforms, drinking coffee, and conducting living-room dance parties. You can connect with Natasha on Instagram @tashfunderburk, or her blog Natasha Funderburk, Life & Style, where she shares daily posts about motherhood (the good, the bad, and the ugly), personal growth and motivation, wellness tips, and everything else in between.
Harper & Sky: https://harperandsky.com