For parents, summer is often packed with road trips, play dates, sports and camp. Are you prepared with plenty of snacks?

As a dietitian, I often hear concerns from parents about their child’s snacking. They understand that kids may need food outside of mealtime, especially to fuel an active summer lifestyle. But because so many prepared snack foods are heavily processed and high in sugar, especially what’s marketed to kids, snacking takes on a bad name. It’s no longer thought of as time to refuel with nutrients and keep kids’ stomachs from rumbling before meal time, but as an unnecessary dessert.

In my practice, I encourage parents to think of snacks as mini-meals. That means including a balanced and sustaining variety of foods that contain fat, protein and carbohydrates, preferably from 2-3 different food groups. Just like at meals, nutrient-dense foods, such as fruit, vegetables and whole grains, should be included – although fun foods are fine to include too, especially as part of an otherwise balanced snack. It also means eating a snack like a meal, preferably at the kitchen table at a semi-consistent time. Keeping the timing consistent fosters security that they’ll always be fed, and eating at the kitchen table encourages mindfulness.

Of course, sometimes that’s just not possible, especially in the summer when an on-the-go lifestyle means kids are often outside the house at snack time. Sometimes you’ve just got to get your child fed! But that doesn’t mean you have to resort to low nutrition and unsatisfying snack foods. Be prepared with these grab and go snack bags, which are tasty, filling, and packed with nutrients your growing child needs.

To make these snack bags, I like to use low sugar and whole grain Earth Fare Cereal as a base, then add in a few handfuls of nuts, dried fruit, and even a little chocolate candy to round it out. Get creative with other specialty ingredients you find in Earth Fare – roasted chickpeas, coconut chips, and vegetable chips are delicious additions to savory mixes. An easy formula is 3 parts whole grain base, 2 parts nuts/seeds, and 2 parts flavor booster, but there’s no rules, as long as your snack mix contains carbohydrates, fat, and protein, and tastes great!

Keep these snack bags in your car, work bag, purse, or anywhere they might be handy. Just be mindful of snack mixes with chocolate, which will melt in the heat. Each recipe makes about 2-3 snack bags.

Savory Asian Snack Mix

  • 3 handfuls Earth Fare Asian Rice Cracker Mix
  • 2 handfuls Earth Fare Tamari Roasted Almonds
  • 2 handfuls vegetable chips, broken
  • ½ package Earth Fare Roasted Nori Snacks, crushed
  • Mix all ingredients together in a large bowl. Divide between 2-3 snack sized bags.

Sweet and Salty Chocolate Almond Mix

  • 3 handfuls your favorite low sugar or unsweetened Earth Fare Cereal
  • 2 handfuls cashews
  • 2 handfuls Earth Fare Sea Salt and Turbinado Chocolate Covered Almonds
  • Mix all ingredients together in a large bowl. Divide between 2-3 snack bags.

Fruit and Nut Cereal Mix

  • 3 handfuls your favorite low sugar or unsweetened Earth Fare Cereal
  • 2 handfuls chopped Earth Fare Honey Pistachio Energy Chunks, chopped (or swap your favorite energy bar)
  • 2 handfuls freeze dried fruit
  • Mix all ingredients together in a large bowl. Divide between 2-3 snack bags.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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About the Author

Rachael Hartley, RD, LD, CDE, CLT

Rachael Hartley is a private practice dietitian and food and wellness blogger at The Joy of Eating. She believes loving every bite of food is central to living a happy and healthy life. Through her practice and blog, Rachael inspires clients and readers to rediscover the joy of eating with nourishment, not deprivation, and to nurture a healthy relationship with food. Follow along on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter.