by Beth Stark, RDN
If your family’s summer vacation is filled with road trips, day camps, play dates, and afternoons by the pool, having nutritious and energizing kid-approved snacks on hand is a must. While snack time delivers fuel for fun, it’s also an excellent opportunity to fill the gaps with nutrients that may otherwise be absent from meals. We like to say a well-stocked pantry is the key to fast and healthful meals, but did you know these convenient staples can transform snack-time too? If you have never considered the use of recipe-ready canned foods to create kid-approved summer snacks, give these three ideas a try!
Like adults, kiddos often fall short of the daily target for fiber, which is generally their age + five. Building snacks around fiber-rich, plant-based fruits, veggies, hummus, nuts, whole-grain crackers, and popcorn is an easy way to boost their fiber intake. For a tasty option that both satisfies crunchy snack cravings and supplies fiber, try roasted chickpeas. Seen in the healthy snacking aisles of many grocery stores, roasted chickpea snacks consist of chickpeas that have been seasoned and oven-roasted to yield an irresistibly crunchy and flavorful snack. Instead of shelling out a high price for the packaged variety, whip up a batch of your own using no-salt-added canned chickpeas! Beyond the cost savings, the other perk is that you can customize the seasonings as you like. Use the recipe here as your base and adjust the flavorings as your kids’ taste buds desire.
Crunchy Parmesan Chickpeas
- Prep Time: 10 minutes
- Cook Time: 40 minutes
- Total Time: 50 minutes
- Servings: 8
- 2 cans (15 oz) no-salt-added chickpeas, drained and rinsed
- 2 Tbsp. olive oil
- ½ tsp salt
- 1/8 tsp freshly ground pepper
- 3 Tbsp. freshly grated Parmesan cheese
Preheat oven to 400oF and line a baking sheet with aluminum foil. Toss chickpeas with olive oil, salt and pepper to coat and arrange in an even layer on the baking sheet. Bake 30-35 minutes, stirring halfway through, until golden and crisp. Sprinkle with cheese and stir once more and cool. Serve or place in a sealed bag or container for up to a week.
A ‘smoothie pack’ is simply a handy little ingredient starter kit, minus the liquid, that’s used to make your favorite smoothie even faster. I like to follow this basic formula that includes a colorful array of fruits and veggies, plus nutrient boosters like chia or flaxseeds, nut or seed butter, quick oats, or cinnamon for a powerful nutrition punch. Just add the ingredients into a sealable and reusable food storage bag or container and refrigerate if using within a few days, or freeze. When ready, add the smoothie pack’s contents into a blender, along with your liquid of choice, such as cow’s milk, a non-dairy, plant-based milk alternative, or yogurt and ice, and blend away. Since canned fruits require no washing, peeling, slicing, or dicing, they are a great time-saving ingredient for this smoothie shortcut. Here are a few ideas to be inspired by, but truly, the possibilities are endless!
‘Peachy Green’ Smoothie Pack
Canned peaches (drained) + Baby spinach + Banana + Kiwi (with skin for added fiber!) + Chia seeds
Add vanilla Greek yogurt + orange juice + ice and blend.
‘Taste of the Tropics’ Smoothie Pack
Canned pineapple (drained) + Banana + Quick oats
Add coconut Greek yogurt + unsweetened coconut milk + ice and blend.
Buffalo Celery Boats
It doesn’t have to be tailgate season to enjoy the bold flavor of buffalo sauce. This super-easy protein-packed, veggie-licious snack solution offers a savory twist on classic ‘ants on a log,’ that kids and adults alike will go for. It’s also an easy way to stealthily increase intake of lean protein and veggies. In a small bowl, combine drained, canned chicken breast or light tuna with mild buffalo wing style sauce and shredded cheddar cheese. Spoon the mixture into 4-inch long celery stalks and serve with ranch salad dressing for dipping. Ready in minutes, these buffalo celery boats are a breeze for kids to make themselves and are guaranteed to be a hit. They work well for lunchboxes too!
By Beth Stark, RDN, LDN