We all want to raise our children with good healthy food, but it can be very hard in a processed, convenient world. Welcome to my series on how to eat real, healthy food with kids. If you missed my first post, you might be interested to read, “How To Get Your Kids to Eat Real Food Without the Battles.” I shared my time-tested strategies for switching your family over to real food and how to bring your kids on board gently, respectfully, and successfully. But what foods are real, and which aren't? This post tackles snacks, which are one of the easiest ways to start switching over. Most of these require little, if any, preparation and are just as convenient as grabbing a granola bar.
Real Food Snacks for Kids (that even adults will like!)
I found that I had to produce quick and easy snacks or I was going to go crazy with this new lifestyle. Here are the snacks my kids will actually eat:
- Avocados – such a nutrient dense, filling food full of good fats! Fats are essential to brain health and growth. Can't say enough good about avocados. My two-year-old eats them with a spoon!
- Nuts and Seeds – these should be soaked/sprouted (read more about soaking/sprouting) as they are irritating to the gut. Once soaked, they make excellent snacks. I buy bags of sprouted pumpkin and sprouted pumpkin seeds off Amazon and they are ready to go! My husband loves almonds, but my kids are still young and aren't crazy about them. They do love cashews.
- Coconut Flakes/Chips – I've written many times on the blog about the amazing nutrition coconut products offer. Coconut flakes are like little chips – mix them in with the seeds for a healthy trail mix or add milk to it to make a very healthy cereal! Buy Here.
- Fruit – my kids' favorite fruits are apples, bananas, strawberries, blueberries, plums, clementines and pears. We have to be careful that we don't eat too much fruit as it is high in sugar.
- Green Peas – we buy organic frozen green peas and eat them almost every day. My kids even like them frozen right out of the bag! So easy and SO full of nutrition!
- Hard Boiled Eggs – tons of protein! Make sure to buy ones from free-range chickens with no antibiotics or hormones.
- Organic, Plain, Whole Milk Yogurt – either homemade or store-bought, make sure it is plain as the flavored ones are full of sugar. Add your own sweetener with a few teaspoons of raw honey or fruit. Add some seeds to it to make it even more filling. I love Stonyfield Organic Plain Yogurt.
- Homemade Popcorn – buy organic popcorn kernels (non GMO is best) and make them at home over the stove. It takes about 5 minutes and it's one of our favorite snacks.
- Nut Butters – these are your friend! Peanut, almond and even sunflower seed oils are all tasty but make SURE to purchase the ones without added sugar. We spread them on apples, bananas, organic brown rice cakes and sprouted bread (see below). Costco has great prices on organic nut butters, like Maranantha Almond Butter where to buy.
- Sprouted Bread, Either Homemade or Store-Bought – makes for a super, nutrient dense, non-irritating food. I buy Ezekiel Bread, which is sold in my local grocery store, both at Kroger and Publix, in the frozen foods section.
- Coconut Milk – very filling, full of lauric acid, healthy fats, nutrients and more! Can make your own or purchase – I buy this one that has no added chemicals.
- Soaked Oatmeal – again, grains like oats should be soaked. Once they are, they are a filling, healthy snack. I buy Bob's Red Mill Gluten Free Rolled Oats as it is certified gluten free.
- Grab and Go Veggies – organic baby carrots, grape tomatoes, sugar snap peas and even raw broccoli – my kids like all of these.
- Raw, Organic Cheese or Goat Cheese – cheese made from raw milk (which does exist even at Kroger!) is much healthier as it comes from healthy cows and contains the digestive enzymes that help us digest it (a major reason why so many are sensitive to dairy products is because they are stripped of the original enzymes).
Processed Foods to Avoid (That Kids Love But Need to Go)
Check out my other post, How I Ditched Processed Food and Switched to Real Food, to see more details, but here is a list of things kids should not be eating. Very first rule of thumb? Get in the habit of reading the ingredient labels, or better yet, buy food that doesn't come with labels! When you're eating real food, the nutrition label doesn't even matter because it's REAL.
Remember, fat is not the problem. It's food that's processed, with added sugar and chemicals. Do you understand or know the ingredients of what you're eating? Then don't buy it until you do. Sugar is not our friend. Chemicals, preservatives, and unsoaked grains cause inflammation that lead to all manner of disease and disorders.
Processed Foods To Throw Out
- Goldfish, Cheeze-its, and the like – They are very irritating to the gut (grains that haven't been soaked) and are highly processed, loaded with preservatives and chemicals with no nutrition but empty calories.
- Hot dogs – no surprise there. Nitrates, preservatives, leftover animal parts, etc. At the very least, get the natural hot dogs, like the ones from Applegate Farms, that have NO NITRATES, antibiotics, fillers or hormones.
- Fruit Snacks – yes, even ones that are made with “real” fruit juice. You can easily make them at home with I Buy This One and freshly squeezed fruit juice.
- Fruit Juices – yes, even real, 100% juice. They are still pasteurized and processed to a point that strips the original nutrition and renders it the equivalent of pure fructose. Opt instead to make your own from fresh fruit, using a juicer or a blender. Don't have one? Then offer water, herbal tea sweetened with honey (my kids LOVE this!), or whole organic milk, coconut milk or almond milk (but be careful of added ingredients!).
- Deli Meat – ham and other red meats are especially bad as it is usually loaded with nitrates. Opt instead to make your own roast beef from grass-fed, pastured cows or a free-range chicken in the crock pot (cook until the meat easily shreds) and use the meat for sandwiches, or buy only nitrate, antibiotic, and hormone-free meat.
- Boxed Cookies or Cookies from a Mix – Full of chemicals and preservatives, just say no and make your own from scratch at home (but use grain-free ones or soak your flour if it is grain). It means you will eat way less sweets, but that's a good thing!
- Bread – yes, bread is highly processed and usually loaded with, again, chemicals and preservatives, and sugar – even organic, whole-wheat bread. All grain should be soaked as it is highly irritating to the gut if not – read more here. The only bread I buy is one that is soaked and contains no added chemicals or preservatives – Ezekiel Bread.
- Flavored Yogurt – this is a bad one because we think it's healthy – it's yogurt! Yikes, have you read the sugar content on the back? LOADED. Plus, the flavoring is usually fake. Even organic yogurt, unless it's plain, comes with tons of sugar. Opt instead to buy plain organic yogurt and add fruit or a few teaspoons of raw, unfiltered honey to it instead. Or easily make your own with a yogurt maker!
- Cereal – this is a new one for most of us. Cereals, even organic ones with low sugar, are made with process called extrusion. They are heated at very high temperatures which strips them of all their natural nutrients. It is then added back in chemical form. They are highly irritating to the gut, which leads to a multitude of health issues. Source
- Granola Bars – even organic ones contain grains that are not soaked – highly irritating to the gut. Often these are loaded with sugar. You can make your own from nuts, seeds and raw honey.
- Shredded Cheese – read the ingredients – they are coated with calcium sulfate and cellulose (wood pulp) to prevent caking. Many of them also have added color ingredients (annatto). Opt instead to shred your own. More effort? Yes, I know. Sigh. But way healthier.
- Low Fat Foods – remember when I wrote that fat is not the problem? Well, low fat is an issue. Low fat foods like milk and cheeses are very highly processed to remove the natural fat, stripping it of essential enzymes and nutrients. Those are then added back in chemical form. Opt instead for whole milk, and organic is even better. Some stores even have ones that aren't homogenized or ultra-pasteurized. If you can get raw milk, then you're ballin.
Ideas for Real Food Meals
I have a whole section on the blog dedicated to real food recipes – click here to see them all! Are you a Pinterest junkie? Then check out my board where I share lots of fantastic recipes, many of which I’ve used. Want to know what real food actually is? Check out my article – How I Ditched Processed Food and Switched to Real Food. Then check out the first post in this series, How To Get Your Kids to Eat Real Food Without the Battles.