When you think of the typical snack foods designed with a growing child in mind, what images surface for you? Chances are images of colorful boxes with interesting characters begin to form in your mind as you start to think of all of the processed, low nutrient-density snacks lining the supermarket shelves. Even as an adult, the transition to a Paleo diet can be a difficult one, but think of how much easier the transition could be if your children learned from a very early age about what a healthy diet is designed to incorporate.
Consider how introducing your children to a Paleo diet, starting with their formative years, can impact their health for years to come, such as the statement made by Loren Cordain, Ph.D.(1):
“A diet high in sugar and salt, and low in high quality veggies, protein and fat will begin to tamper with the kids’ taste buds, blood sugar levels and overall wellbeing, as well as set an early course to type II diabetes and obesity.”
Paleo Snacking Tips
One of the most common obstacles to staying on track with Paleo eating stems from the loss of convenience foods, and as an adult, you can certainly plan around that by planning ahead and prepping your snacks ahead of time.
The reality is, however, the loss of convenience foods can be extremely challenging when it comes to feeding kids who need to eat frequently and become raving maniacs when they are too hungry.
So what should you have on hand to prevent your children from that famished feeling where a melt-down is more likely to set in.
Other than it being a nutrient-dense, high quality, Paleo-friendly snack, consider the following question and answer provided by “The Paleo Mom” otherwise known as Dr. Sarah Ballantyne, PhD:
“So, what are good snack foods for kids? Well, I guess the short answer is anything they will eat and is easy for you to put in front of them.” (2)
According to Ballantyne, the word “snack” can mean a variety of things including the following considerations:
- Is it something your kids will be eating while sitting down at the table?
- Is it something that needs to be travel friendly so it can be eaten in the car?
- Will the snack be something that is packed in a lunchbox to take to school?
- Is the snack for a special occasion or outing such as going on a picnic or to a sporting event?
Once you’ve answered the following questions, there a number of snack options you may choose to incorporate.
Top 5 Paleo Snacks for Growing Kids
Use the following list of ideas to inspire you to make the best decision possible when snack time rolls around:
1. Nuts and Seeds
Nuts are a great Paleo snack due to just how portable they are. Almonds, cashews, or macadamia nuts are all fantastic nuts to have on hand, but avoid peanuts, which are actually legumes.
A small handful or Ziploc baggie of seeds and mixed nuts, particularly raw and without any fancy coatings, is a great snack at anytime of the day for your growing child, unless of across there is some kind of allergy to consider.
In addition, many brands of seed and nut butters come in convenient single-serving packets that are great to throw in the bottom of a backpack for an emergency Paleo snack when your kids are away from home.
Nuts and seeds are also a great foundation and base for making granola bars and snack bars for snacks that need to be eaten on the run or while in the car.
Not only are most homemade Paleo-friendly nut and seed-based snack bars nutrient dense, but they make a high energy snack for busy kids, while being extremely portable and lunchbox friendly.
2. Meats and Eggs
If you are following a Paleo diet, chances are you are cooking up a source of protein for your lunches and dinners throughout the week. You can easily cook up an extra batch of roast chicken or steak strips, for example, and have your kids munch on these sources of protein as a convenient, high protein snack.
For an even better and more voluminous snack, wrap those sources of protein over red pepper or zucchini strips, or other finger veggies that your kids may enjoy and seem to be a good match to the protein of your choice.
As an additional surprise in your repertoire of high protein, kid-approved snacks, consider adding in some canned wild caught salmon, sardines, and tuna. According to this article, many Paleo parents report that these items are often children approved choices.
Although many associate eggs with an easy source of protein to add in at breakfast, eggs are for anytime of day really! Hard-boiled eggs make the perfect portable protein, though they may not be best to travel with on hot summer days or without properly storing in a rather cold cooler.
Keeping a batch of hard boiled eggs in the fridge at all times can definitely save you headaches and hassles when the kids come home from school starving or are getting a bit peckish before dinner. You can serve them peeled, on their own, or add side of fresh fruit, finger veggies, or nuts to help make the snack a bit more substantial.
3. Finger Fruits and Veggies
Always keep a mixture of raw fruits and veggies on hand. If you slice and cut your fruits and veggies ahead of time, you can portion them out into Tupperware or plastic bags ahead of time so they are quick and easy to grab-n-go. (3)
Fruit is super easy to transport, and most varieties will hold up well at room temperature. An apple, banana, or orange makes for a quick and super simple Paleo snack.
It takes virtually no time our of your day to chop up some carrot or celery sticks on weekend afternoon, and then toss the veggies into plastic bags for an easy Paleo snack to grab and go all week.
Other tasty additions to your snack list may include cherry tomatoes, string beans, snow peas, sliced cucumber, and radishes. To make an even heartier snack out of your vegetable varieties, add a side of Paleo-friendly dips such as cauliflower hummus or guacamole.
Left over roasted veggies are also great to have on hand, and may include chunks of pumpkin or sweet potato or roasted carrots. Making leftover roasted veggies when incorporating them as part of your main meal really takes very little time.
4. “Meal in a Muffin
Muffins can be enjoyed at any time of the day, and they don’t need to be sweet to taste good. For some reason, the shape of a muffin appeals to children in a way that other snack foods may not, making them fun to eat!
A muffin shaped meal made of any combination of veggies and protein (i.e. meat, fish, chicken, or egg) is a perfect snack given it transports well and taste good cold. Cooking in bulk and preparing a big batch of muffins at the start of the week can definitely help to save you some time throughout your week, too.
Because most muffins can keep in the fridge for a few days, and some can even be frozen for later consumption, they are great to have on hand for a fun, filling snack.
In addition, the combination of ingredients to use to make your muffins is virtually endless. Check out these savory meat and veggie muffins!
If most parents are being 100% honest, it can be a real challenge to squeeze in enough fruit and veggies each day, particularly those green, leafy varieties. This is where green smoothies come to the rescue. They are a great way to sneak in a load of nutrients into your child’s diet.
Because smoothies are also a great way to disguise other superfoods, don’t be afraid to toss in additions that you fear will turn your kids off to the taste, such as cacao nibs, goji berries, chia seeds, or lacuma.
If you follow “Pete’s Paleo” particular formula for smoothies, the possibilities are endless! (4) If one formula doesn’t work, keep experimenting until you find a blend that your children look forward to each day.
“And because variety is the spice of life, I encourage you to continue to be bold and brave with the foods you introduce your kids too. By encouraging adventurous palettes, you’ll ensure they have a lifelong love affair with what they put in their mouths and their physical and emotional health can benefit tremendously.”
Take Home Message on Paleo Kids Snacks
Eating right as a family and leading by example through your own adherence to Paleo nutrition sets the foundation for a healthy diet for your children to follow from a young age.
With a little planning ahead, you can avoid difficulty with getting creative and keep snacks for your kids interesting while in the midst of a crazy work-week, busy school days, or the numerous daily stressors. (5)
When it comes to snack planning, there is so much fun and easy out there in the world of Paleo recipes, as you’ve probably gathered by the tips above. Be sure to enjoy this time with your growing children and create snacks together so they can experience how fun and beneficial Paleo is for everyone no matter their age.