Snacking with Kids

Tuesday, March 26, 2019

The relationship between toddlers and food is definitely a love, hate type of thing; wouldn't you agree? It's a difficult age for a multitude of reasons, but food is a big struggle for many toddlers and parents of toddlers. I have made an effort to involve my kiddos in the kitchen since they were young. It started with things like cookies, and cupcakes and has evolved into pizzas and slicing veggies. Sounds scary right? It was at first, but these are life skills that all self sufficient, independent, healthy individuals need to learn.

I didn't just magically come up with the idea that my kids needed to learn about their food and how to prepare it, I just knew it was fun for them and that they always wanted to "help". It all started at the kids' preschool. Snack at our preschool is a learning experience, and it is so awesome to see in action. The school emphasizes the importance of teaching young children all about food, where it comes from, how it's made AND how to eat it. It is so beneficial, in my opinion, to start teaching children about nutrition, what foods are good for your body, how to make healthy choices. This practice helps to encourage children to expand their palette by trying new foods and learning how to prepare them. 
The best way to teach your children about food is to involve them in the process. It can be intimidating at first, and messy, but the more you do it, the easier it becomes. Here is a compilation of some of my favorite, interactive, healthy snacks for kids.

Fruit & Veggie Kabobs

Ingredients & Supplies

Grape Tomatoes
Bell Peppers
Honeydew Melon
Wood Skewers

Any fruits or vegetables that can be easily poked and threaded onto a skewer will work great. 

Skills/Benefits: Fine motor skills, boosts confidence (they made it their own way), pride in their skills, creativity, patterning. 

This is pretty self explanatory. All you need to to is wash and cut the fruits and vegetables, set them all out and let the kids create their own Kabobs. Picking colorful fruits and vegetables helps keep the kids interested. Be sure to tell the kids that the end of the skewer is sharp before they begin. Because of time constraints in the classroom, my daughter and I prepared all the fruits and veggies at home the night before. She is 7 and helped me wash, cut and find containers for them. 

Chocolate Zucchini Muffins


Chocolate Chips
Shredded Zucchini
Whole Wheat Pastry Flour
Unsweetened Cocoa Powder
Baking Soda
Coconut Oil, melted and cooled
Honey or Agave Nectar
Banana, mashed OR Unsweetened Apple Sauce
Unsweetened Almond Milk

Here is the link to the full recipe on Pinterest!

Skills/Benefits: Measuring, counting, following directions, small muscle control, hand eye coordination, pride, physical science (changing forms from a liquid to a solid). 

Let them measure out the ingredients with you, gather the ingredients and supplies, mix, stir and pour! Mashing the banana is a great job for a child of any age! Kids love mashing and squishing things. If they don't like getting their hands dirty they can always use a potato masher! This recipe is also a great way to get your children to see that hidden veggies can be delicious, too. 

Smoothie Bar


Unsweetened Vanilla Almond Milk

Any fruits or vegetables will work! Let your child pick them out at the store and see what they come up with. Seasonal is best, but frozen works too.

Skills/Benefits: Learning how to use a blender safely, creativity, self direction & independence, problem solving (too thin or too thick, taste) hand eye coordination (pouring ingredients and pouring smoothie into their cup), physical science (changing forms from a solid to a liquid). 

You can let the kids use whatever ingredients they would like, or you can provide them with a few simple recipes for them to follow. This may be easier for children 4 and up. If you provide pictures of the ingredients on the recipe card, younger children may be able to follow the recipes as well with some help from an adult. 

Homemade Soft Pretzels


All Purpose Flour
Warm Water
Baking Soda
Baking sheet
Parchment Paper
Dips or condiments of your choice

Skills/Benefits: Fine motor, creativity, pride & confidence, how to handle dough, small muscle control, independence, following directions, how to use the oven safely with adult supervision. 

This is super fun for all ages! I have done this in toddler class at our preschool all the way up to pre-K and they have all enjoyed it. Due to time constraints I made the dough and let it rise ahead of time. Once we arrived to class, I separated the dough into sections; one for each child. I also made sure each child had a section of parchment paper for under their pretzel. Then they were able to roll out their dough into "snakes" & twist it into whatever shapes their little creative hearts desired. After they are finished, they can use the pastry brush to apply the soda wash, it's like painting and they love it! Lastly, I place them in the oven to cook, the kids love watching the process through the glass on the oven door. When they are all finished the kids are able to enjoy their creation with a variety of dipping sauces or just plain. Some I have used in the past are melted cheese, melted butter with cinnamon, mustards ect. 

Here is the link to the full recipe on Pinterest.

Fruit & Yogurt Cups


Waffle Cone Bowls
Different Flavors of Yogurt
Fruits - We used, Strawberries, Blueberries & Raspberries.
Chocolate Chips
Almonds (Obviously be careful of allergies! Omit nuts and granola if necessary)

Skills/Benefits: Creativity, fine motor skills (scooping & using tongs to pick up fruits), self direction, independence, confidence, measurements, pride. 

Give each child their own waffle bowl, let them pick their ingredients and toppings. That's it! Easy, healthy, fun and delicious. 

Ways Kids Can Help in the Kitchen:

Washing Fruits and Veggies
Setting the Table
Cutting (Kids plastic knives work for fruits & other soft foods. A butter knife works as well!) 
Beating Eggs
Cleaning Up
Gathering Ingredients

As you make these snacks with your kids, talk to them and ask them questions about the ingredients and the process! Explain where and how fruits and veggies grow. Asking them open ended questions is a great way to get the conversation started about food & nutrition. Asking them things like, "What do you think will happen when we do ________?" can spark all kinds of conversations; it can even start teaching them about the scientific process by merely making predictions and observations. Let them wash, measure, cut, mix and pour all the things. It may be messy, but it will be worth it and so much fun for you and your kids. The opportunities for learning in the kitchen are ENDLESS! 
I sure hope you have enjoyed these snack ideas and recipes, thanks so much for taking the time to read. What are your kids' favorite snacks? Please share your ideas with me! I am always looking for new ideas. 


PS: When I wrote this, my computer was being a butt head and my daughter wanted me to "color" with her; so I originally wrote this post out by hand in multi color, sparkly gel pens. It was beautiful! HaHa!

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