Healthy, quick, easy, balanced, filling, delicious snacks are hard to come up with in the after-school rush, especially when you are on the go. Here are 10 of our favorites,
and I’ve included gluten-free, dairy-free substitutions. Happy snacking!
Snack time is complicated enough, but when you need gluten-free, dairy-free snacks, it gets harder. I’ve got 10 quick and easy snacks your kids will love!
It starts the moment they pile into the car after school, heavy packs on their backs. “I’m so hungry! Lunch was hours ago! What can we eat when we get home?” My kids are big eaters, and food is always a hot topic. Some days we go straight from school to sports, and that makes the hunger panic become a crisis. I used to feel the anxiety rise from my stomach to my throat as my brain scrambled to come up with something to feed their grumbling bellies.
I’ve never been a snacker. Since I don’t allow the kids to graze throughout the day, we have a scheduled snack time around 3:30 to get us from lunch to dinner. It feels like a fourth meal because the mess can spread like wildfire. The last thing I want is another huge mess to clean up shortly before dinner. Just like I made a list of lunch options, I made a list of quick and easy snack options that my kids love. I look at the list and choose one. Done. They are filling enough to tide them over, but not so substantial that the kids won’t eat dinner. Crisis averted, minimal clean up, happy kids, stress-free mommy. My kids can make man of these snacks themselves, and that frees me up to help empty backpacks and direct them in their after-school routine.
Tips and Tricks
I remember the day my son had an allergic reaction to peanut butter, and it left my life forever. I used to eat it every. single. day. I have two favorite substitutes, depending on what I’m making. Almond butter is great for spreading and topping, and Sunbutter is the best for mixing in a recipe because it has a stronger flavor and will give that perfect peanut butter-y taste. Sunbutter also works if you have tree nut allergies as well as peanut allergies. This brand of almond butter is the only one made in a peanut-free facility. It’s no stir and has the closest flavor and texture to smooth peanut butter I’ve ever tried. It’s by far my favorite, and I’ve tried many. This one is less expensive, and tastes great, but it does have more ingredients to it.
10 Quick and Easy Gluten-free, dairy-free Snacks Your Kids Will Love
Apples with Peanut Butter and Pretzels. This is one of my favorites because it’s creamycrunchysaltysweet deliciousness in one package. I also love this as a late night snack if I’m hungry at bed time. Did you know that one of the main causes of early morning waking is a drop in blood sugar? Your body spikes your cortisol to wake you up to go eat. “It’s an emergency!! You might die if you don’t get up and eat something RIGHT NOW!!” If we eat an early dinner, I know to eat something before bed so I don’t wake up at 3:30 a.m. It’s very satisfying and has the perfect balance of protein, fat and carbs. I use gluten-free pretzels for mine. Regular pretzels here.
Peanut Butter Graham Cracker Sandwiches. My kids think this is dessert because as far as I’m concerned, graham crackers are a cookie, and I don’t hand them out often (unless we are having s’mores!). It’s a nice twist on the regular peanut butter cracker concept. I love sweet and salty, so this hits the spot for me. I use gluten-free graham crackers for mine.
Smoothies. We love smoothies, and I have a whole slew of recipes. I’ve shared two of my favorites here and here. This is one of the fastest options, and especially good for sports because it won’t sit heavy in their stomachs.
Snack Bars. When the kids have to go straight from school to sports, I do sometimes make a plate of apples or graham crackers, but that can be really messy in the car, so sometimes I give them each a half or whole snack bar. They are perfect for on-the-go snacking. My two favorite brands are RxBars and Quest Bars. RxBars are made from egg whites, nuts, dates and whatever flavor it is. My preschooler loves the chocolate sea salt flavor. She thinks it’s a candy bar, and I keep them in my purse in case we are out and about too long and she needs something to eat. They do have tree nuts or peanuts in them, depending on the bar. I eat the Quest bars, and my kids also love them. They have about 15 grams of fiber per bar, which is a blessing or a curse, depending on your water intake. My favorite is the Double Chocolate Chunk flavor if you want something chocolatey. All of the ones I’ve tried are good, and that is saying something for a protein bar. If you want to take it up a level, dip it in…yes, peanut butter.
Apple, Peanut Butter, Chocolate Chip Sandwiches. Are you noticing a theme? I love nut butters and I love apples. Core the apple, slice it horizontally so it looks like doughnut rings, smear with nut butter of your choice and sprinkle with a few chocolate chips (these are dairy-free). I prefer the dark chocolate). Either eat open faced or top with another apple slice to make a sandwich.
Banana, Peanut Butter and Bacon Halves. Hear me out. This is a match made in heaven. Slice a banana in half length wise, spread on the peanut butter, and add a slice of bacon. You can thank me later.
Ok, two sort of have dairy
If you are dairy-free, all is not lost! Try nut cheese or spread. There are some really tasty ones out there. Many are cashew-based, and anything made with cashews is good in my book.
Apples and Cheese. No nut butters! I don’t eat dairy these days (and it makes me so sad), but the kids love apples topped with cheddar slices, brie, bleu cheese and feta. My kids eat like adults, so stinky cheeses ar
e a staple in our house. I hit up my local specialty grocer and get a few dairy-free cheese spreads.
Pretzels and Cheese. This is another easy, on-the-go snack that is a minimal mess maker. I take a bag of pretzels and a string cheese or two for each kid (regular pretzels here.) Throw in a clementine for balance and sweetness. They are so easy to peel my toddlers could do it, and they can put the peels in the pretzel bag.
Snack time doesn’t have to be a huge mess, and it doesn’t have to be a crisis, even when you need gluten-free, dairy-free snacks.
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