Right now, your toddler is just trying to figure out what this whole “dinner” thing is all about. They’re more into snacks. And who can blame them? Snacks often look like fish or tiny donuts. Also they require no seat, no napkin, and no manners, if your crumby shirt and post pizza-roll gas is any indication.
This category of diverse, go-anywhere finger foods are (by any objective measure) some of the best things to shove into your snack-hole. That said, if you’re a health conscious parent there’s not much to recommend. What you need are healthier knock-offs. Here are 5 to get you and your kid started, though you’ll have to figure out how to stop on your own.
For Cookie Monsters
Raspberry Oatmeal Cookies
Your kid’s health is not really benefitting from those heavily frosted sugar cookies they whine about (and receive) at your local mermaid-fronted coffee shop. But that does not mean all things cookie have to get the boot. Cookies exist that even the blue monster’s fruit-pushing friends would approve of.
This version, from a baker named Amy, kicks up the health quotient by using honey instead of sugar, whole wheat flour and antioxidant boosting berries. The instructions may be a little fussy, but she used to be an organic chemist, so the result will likely be a molecular nom-pound.
For Cheese Cracker Crunchers
Homemade “Cheeze Its”
Off the shelf they come shaped as squares, fish and bunnies. And kids freaking love them. Also, you do too. Which is why you always attack the snack in the dark of night while kids sleep and pretend you have no idea what they’re talking about when they discover the empty box the next day. Well, now if you polish them off you can just make more thanks to the dude who literally wrote the book on on homemade versions of classic snack.
The cracker guy describes these crackers as a heartier version of the real thing. He uses whole wheat flour, real cheese, butter, salt and… Yep. That’s it.
For Newton Noobs
Homemade “Fig Newtons”
The classic take on a “fig roll” has been a throwback childhood snack for pretty much ever. The cookies posses a distinctly biting figgy-ness and the soft dough covering them has an awesome sweet crumbliness that gets caught in your teeth. This homemade version uses Turkish figs, maple syrup, whole wheat flour and coconut oil to create a fruit filled cookie that even the venerable Paul Newman could not top, even though he knows for the color of nummy.
For The Pizza Roller
Quinoa Pizza Bites
“Pizza flavored” snacks abound on store shelves. You got your pizza flavored Combos, your Pizza Rolls and your pizza soda (yeah). But why would anyone eat anything pizza flavored instead of just eating pizza? Because that would mean you’re only eating pizza and people would start to talk.
This is the valuable lesson you’re teaching your kid with these healthy pizza bites that have zero to do with pizza aside from tasting like pizza and being dipped in pizza sauce. How is that healthy? One word: quinoa. Get into it.
For The Fruit Leather Lover
Homemade Gummy Fruit Snacks
Another kid snack staple fruit, flattened or otherwise gummy-fied to make it looks less like fruit and more like candy. More than that, the nutrition of the finished product often relates more to candy than to fruit. That’s where this homemade version of the popular snack comes into play. Please note that this recipe will take some time and includes something called “calcium water” which sounds vaguely sinister. But the end result will have your kid knocking back their fruit like nobody’s business. Even with no added sugar.