Healthy Grab-and-Go Snacks

Easy, kid-friendly, gluten-free make-and-takes

Quick and easy homemade versions of popular store-bought snacks contain healthy, mom-approved ingredients yet still appeal to kids. Whip up these (mostly) gluten-free recipes over the weekend, package them up and keep them handy for simple weekday grab-and-go snacks.

Banana Crunch Pops

This variation on the frozen banana is nutritious, delicious and a great way to preserve fruit that's nearing its natural expiration date.

Ingredients: ⅔ cup of greek yogurt, ¼ tsp. ground cinnamon, 1 cup granola with dried fruit (or the quinoa, fruit & nut bars below), 4 popsicle sticks and 2 medium bananas, cut crosswise

  1. Insert popsicle sticks into banana chunks.
  2. Coat the fruit in Greek yogurt swirled with cinnamon and roll in granola, cereal or walnuts.
  3. Freeze until firm (about 2 hours) on a wax paper-covered cookie sheet, then store in freezer bags.

Fruit Leather Roll-Ups

Kids love fruit roll-ups, but commercial options are loaded with sugar and artificial flavors. Make your own healthy alternative in four simple steps.

Ingredients: Fruit of your choice and lemon juice.

  1. Peel, core and dice the fruit of your choice.
  2. Put the fruit in a large pot with add ¼ cup of water to every 4 cups of fruit. Boil, then simmer the fruit, adding lemon juice for preservation, 1 tsp. for every 4 cups of fruit.
  3. Purée the fuit in a blender, adding any spices or seasoning you'd like.
  4. Strain the liquid to get rid of chunks and spread the purée on a parchment-lined cookie sheet and bake for 8 to 10 hours on your oven's lowest setting.

When it's done (you'll know when you touch it and it doesn't stick to your finger, let it cool. then cut the fruit leather into strips (a pizza cutter works well), roll it all up and store the spirals in the fridge.

Quinoa, Fruit & Nut Bars

This versatile snack is a perfect grab when you’re low on time and takes next to no time to make up in large quantities.

Ingredients: 1 cup quinoa flakes, 1 cup whole almonds, ¼ cup desiccated coconut, ½ cup fruit juice, ¼ cup mixed sunflower and pumpkin seeds, 7oz. dried cranberries, 7oz. dried apricots, 3.5oz. dried apples

  1. Combine quinoa flakes, almonds and coconut flakes, spread the mixture evenly over a cookie sheet and bake for 6 to 7 minutes at 390°F.
  2. Place the toasted mix in a blender or food processor with dried cranberries, dried apples, dried apricots and either sunflower or pumpkin seeds. Slowly add fruit juice as you finely chop the dry ingredients.
  3. Press the mixture onto a lined cookie sheet, sprinkle extra seeds on top and refrigerate overnight. In the morning, slice it up into bars and store in plastic wrap.

Reader Faves

We asked our Facebook friends to tell us about their kids' favorite grab-and-go treats. Here's a sampling of their answers.
• Celery, snap peas and cucumbers. —Lisa R.
• Cheese and grapes. —Sheneka S.
• Apples and clementines. —Joy W.
• Sweet pepper sticks and a small container of hummus. —Christina G.
• Bunny food, aka carrot sticks. —Elaina C.
• Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Larabar. My son has no clue that it's made of dates. —Sharon F.
Click here for some more stealthy snack tricks.

Sour Patch Grapes

These grapes have the same tang of Sour Patch gummies minus the excessive processing. And the prep couldn’t be any simpler.

Ingredients: Bunch of grapes, pack of Jell-O

  1. Wash your grapes and roll them in Jell-o powder (choose your flavor: watermelon fusion, lemon or lime works well). You could also shake the ingredients together in a baggie.
  2. Refrigerate the coated grapes for about an hour and you’re ready to enjoy the sweet-and-sour goodness.

Salt & Vinegar Chickpeas

Hummus is yummy but can get messy on the go. Instead, season and roast the dip's main ingredient for a clean, crunchy getaway snack. 

Ingredients: 15oz. can of chickpeas, 2 cups white vinegar, extra virgin olive oil, salt, pepper

  1. Boil a can of drained, rinsed chickpeas in vinegar for a minute, then turn off the flame and let sit for a half-hour.
  2. Drain the chickpeas, lightly coat with olive oil, sprinkle with salt and roast in the oven at 425°F for 35 to 40 minutes, until golden and crispy. Halfway through baking, shake the pan to rotate the peas.

Brittany E. Hair is a communications student at Drexel University and a MetroKids intern.

Categories: Food & Nutrition, Health & Nutrition, Healthy Living