Homemade energy bites are my kids' favorite snack, hands down! We have been making these for years and they’re so tasty for mama and kiddo alike - please make sure read the safety information below before serving.
These are also awesome for pregnant mamas as some data suggests that dates may help with cervical ripening before birth.
Best of all, they are a nice balance of protein, fat and carbohydrates (read: energy) that taste amazing.
I loved having them on hand when I was pregnant and breastfeeding, especially because they’re a quick, satisfying snack that can be eaten with one hand! You can make a large batch and keep them room temperature, in the fridge or frozen - you (adult) can eat them frozen, but make sure to thaw for younger eaters.
These energy bites are similar to commercially available energy bars and are simply equal parts Medjool dates and nuts or seeds of choice. Make sure to use a high powered blender or food processor to blend. If using the Vitamix, use the tamper.
Vary the nuts you use: each one provides different nutrition! For non-allergic people, regular exposure to allergens is important for allergy prevention.
A few tips for success with these:
Flying with kids? We have one word for you: SNACKS.
Here are our minimums in the snack department when we fly as a family - longer trips may require even more snack options!
We always bring reusable water bottles that we can fill once past security. Lately we’ve been digging the Hydroflask kids straw bottles and we always label them in case they get left behind. Check out our Amazon shop for a complete list of our favorite straw cups! The labels shown are from Mabels Labels.
We also bring one type of fruit or veggie, either fresh or freeze dried. These freeze dried strawberries from Trader Joe's are crunchy and aren’t as concentrated in fruit sugar or as sticky as regular dried fruit (although we dig dried too - just be consistent with teeth brushing!). Freeze dried is great for kids who love a little crunch. They’re also shelf stable so they’re perfect for travel. Babies can have them if they’re soft and easily dissolvable/chewable - the strawberries are probably the safest.
We always bring a beige crunchy “interesting” food that will keep their attention for a bit, like Annie's Homegrown bunnies, veggie straws or crackers. We don’t serve these foods every day - but we do serve them sometimes - and to our kids they’re a little unique!
Lastly, something filling! We actually brought a Larabar on this trip for the kids and I tried these Enjoy Life Protein Bites - we wanted to test them out and show them here for those of you dealing with top 8 allergies! Holy moly, they're delicious! They’re kind of like a chocolate dessert with a nice protein boost, and for families who need a quick, portable option that doesn’t include top allergens they’re awesome!
Other protein/fat combo options good for young eaters on planes include string cheese or Babybel cheese, sunflower butter sandwich or homemade energy balls.
One of our lovely followers asked us to put together some filling, nourishing snack ideas for pregnant and breastfeeding moms, but these snacks are also perfect adults of all ages and stages.
Note: if you’re sharing these snacks with a kiddo under 4 there are some choking hazards shown (since these are geared toward adults). Soften the baby carrots, use thinly spread cashew butter instead of whole cashews, and soften/shred the apples.
Let's talk about real-life balance for a moment. Your postpartum snack might be a handful of chocolate chips and lukewarm coffee. That is OK. It’s about grace and survival! Your diet won’t - and really shouldn’t - be 100% perfect. Obsession is not productive. Also, we realize that not every postpartum mama can or chooses to breastfeed. There are some additional considerations for breastfeeding (like more protein, more water), but please remember that whenever we are talking about how you feed your baby we are coming from a place of inclusiveness and love - not segregation or judgement. These snacks are for everyone!
What makes a snack great? Protein, produce (fiber!) and something that’s simple to grab - most of these are just wash and eat! (Yours probably won’t be presented this carefully - what matters is getting it in your belly.)
About the food:
We were thrilled to be part of the #storytimesnacks in September project, spearheaded by Literacy for Littles. Each Tuesday in September, we joined some wonderful accounts in featuring snacks that fit the theme of a favorite children’s book! Reading is one of the most important things you can do with your child, and so many books pair beautifully with simple themed snacks! Even though September is over, you can still use some of these books and snack pairing ideas with your little ones throughout the year!
Encourage your kid to “push the button” and get a little messy with the food. Perhaps they want to taste the button next. Maybe they want to try again by pushing more buttons. It’s a fun, interactive experience for kids and adults alike!
Here's how we made them:
When this series started we were contacted by Simon Kids/Simon and Schuster to check out a few of their children’s books, and the ones they sent were so sweet!
We hope you continue to make fun snacks and read to your kiddos!
Do your kids enjoy blueberries? There are so many amazing ways to use this summer fruit, which is crazy high in phytochemicals (but definitely can turn kid poop blue). You can definitely serve blueberries as is (modified for age), but we like to change it up and use blueberries in other ways too.
Here are a few ways that our family enjoys blueberries:
We recommend squishing or halving for kids under 12 months to be extra safe (although they’re not a true choking hazard). Keep the salad for older eaters due to the honey (a no no under 1) and the whole nuts (avoid until 4).
If you are looking for more ideas like this, you can follow us on Instagram or check out our online Toddler Course.
A great snack for kids and adults to enjoy.
It may be October, but it’s still hot in much of the world and smoothies are A-OK year round! We love featuring these each year because they’re tasty and appropriate for many allergy families too! (We aren’t dairy-free but know many of our followers are for various reasons!)
We found these fun glass Halloween milk bottles at Target again this year in the dollar spot! Worried about glass? Tuck the milk bottle in a sock before serving! It’s great to get toddlers used to handling glass (with assistance) so they can safely drink from it as they get older.
Each recipe makes about 2 cups of smoothie, but the glass bottles fit about 3/4 cup liquid each. Make them with your kids this month for a fun Halloween-themed drink that's tasty and satisfying!
Scary Berry Ingredients:
Sweet Pumpkin Spice Ingredients:
Green Goblin Ingredients:
For all recipes - throw all ingredients (liquid first) in a high powered blender like Vitamix. Blend until smooth and serve. Enjoy!
Dips can help selective eaters be more adventurous.
We love Tzatziki (cucumber yogurt dip) for veggies, crackers and pita...and the kids we tested this on last week were gobbling it up! It’s good on its own too - grab a spoon! Recipe inspired by Food Network. Here’s how to make it:
Peel and dice cucumber. Mix it in a small bowl with all other ingredients and stir until well-blended. Refrigerate for an hour before serving.
Dips are a fun way to enjoy foods! If you have a selective eater in your family, try offering a dip that works with the meal. When given the opportunity to dip their foods, kids are more likely to try a new food or a food they might otherwise avoid. If you're interested in more tips like these, check out our online Toddler Course.
A quick snack for kids (and adults).
We demoed this chocolatey smoothie for about 40 preschoolers and elementary school kids recently at my daughters’ school, and it was generally a hit! (I didn’t expect everyone to love it, but every kid tried it and most of them kept drinking it! It was a hit with all the adults, too!)
Remember....exposure is what counts. When you’re making smoothies have your tot help you, and let them learn about what’s going into their food! Taste along the way to make sure the flavor is right. Here’s how to make it:
Add all ingredients to a high-powered blender (coconut milk on the bottom) and blend until smooth. Makes approximately 24 ounces.
Add some fun to your kid's afternoon snack.
Any snack on a stick can help kids become more interested in eating - think about how much fun it is to eat food in this way! Make our peanut butter yogurt dip (see below for allergen modifications) and pair it with pretzel stick, plus strawberries on a skewer. Safety tip: use kitchen scissors to cut the sharp end off the skewer, and don’t serve this to a young toddler who may poke themselves! Always supervise eating, especially with new tools.
Megan's DEVOURED this snack. It was the perfect sweet, salty and crunchy combo that was also full of fiber, protein and fat (the three key nutrients for keeping our bodies full and our blood sugar more regulated).
To make the yogurt dip, combine:
Allergy Families: use Kite Hill almond yogurt or coconut yogurt instead of dairy yogurt, sunflower seed butter or almond butter instead of peanut butter, and gluten-free pretzels instead of wheat pretzels. Strawberry allergy? Serve with blueberries and bananas instead
Get your snack on, friends.
What snacks does a dietitian love?? I wanted to share my go-to options, especially for road trips - but these work well even when you're at home or sending snacks to school. Y’all know how important the snack game is with kids (because HANGRY = DISASTER when you factor in tons of excitement and not enough sleep), and while traveling we up our game so we have lots of options.
I always try to incorporate high protein snacks and fruit/veggies into the mix because protein/fiber balance blood sugar, which helps everyone feel better between meals. Remember, snacks are all about honoring our body’s hunger signals between meals and feeding ourselves the tasty, enjoyable fuel we need to feel our best. Plus, little humans have little tummies so they need to eat often.
Below are some of our favorite options you can rotate into your snack rotation:
My kids don’t have any allergies - and I regularly serve allergens to help prevent the development of allergies - but if your kid has an allergy, please modify. Always have water available as well.
Megan and Judy, co-owners of Feeding Littles, bring you helpful info on food, nutrition, picky eating, and feeding young children. Megan McNamee MPH, RDN is a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist based in Scottsdale, Arizona. Judy Delaware, OTR/L is an Occupational Therapist specializing in feeding therapy with children 3 and under in Boulder, Colorado. Megan and Judy are both moms of two and love helping families develop a healthy appetite for all foods!