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You may feel confident in your knowledge of healthy and unhealthy snacks, but are you certain you can tell the difference?
Some are obvious – no-one would be surprised to hear that sweets are unhealthy! But there are some snacks for kids that are healthier than you might think.
From whole grains to vitamins, these snacks provide essential nutrients and work as part of a balanced diet. Though, as always, everything is best in moderation.
Find the perfect snack for your child from this list of healthier snacks for kids.
Healthy snack ideas for kids with a sweet tooth!
This classic cinema snack is a healthy source of fibre once all the sugar, oil and salt have been stripped away. Popcorn that is air-popped and only lightly seasoned is a whole grain, quick and healthy snack for kids.
Popcorn can be a choking hazard, however, so should be avoided with younger children – or at least closely watched!
Yoghurt snacks marketed towards kids are typically a sugar overload, but plain Greek yoghurt – with some honey to sweeten the deal – is a great healthy breakfast idea.
Greek yoghurt is an excellent source of nutrients like calcium, as well as probiotics, which are good for the gut. Honey, though sweet, is also very good for you!
Add some dried fruit and granola to the bowl, or if they’re unlikely to eat that mix, you could add some more familiar sliced fruit and berries, like apple slices and raspberries. Unlike sugary cereals, this breakfast will give kids enough energy to last the morning, ensuring they have the best possible start to the day.
If your child’s diet is well-balanced, there’s no reason chocolate can’t be part of it. Small amounts of chocolate – especially if it’s dark chocolate! – is healthy for kids, and is a great source of iron, magnesium, and zinc.
Not a snack in itself (by our definition at least!) but a key ingredient in plenty of healthy snacks, peanut butter is deceptively good for you.
Peanut butter is full of great nutrients and healthy fats. From vitamin E to iron and magnesium, it’s an excellent source of several key nutrients that will help your child’s growth.
If you’re looking for a few healthier snacks that use peanut butter, try these out for style:
If your child isn’t a fan of peanut butter, any nut butter will work. Almond, walnut, cashew; explore your options and you might find one they’re willing to eat!
When snack time arrives, sometimes you just need to reach for something easy. Packaged snacks are rarely healthy snacks, but rice cakes are one of the rare exceptions.
Rice cakes are low-fat, easy snacks that can be picked up in any supermarket. A simple addition to a child’s packed lunch or a quick snack to reach for after school, rice cakes are a guilt-free purchase for the food cupboard.
If you’re looking for easy ideas for snack time, homemade ice lollies can be a healthy treat. You can use fresh fruit or frozen fruit; by making them yourself, you can guarantee that there will be no added sugar.
And of all the kid-friendly snacks, these might be the easiest to make! A fun way to get the kids into the kitchen, ice lollies are an easy snack that bring a little extra fruit into their diet.
By now we’ve all heard rumours that smoothies are tooth-rotting, sugar-filled drinks that have little more nutritional value than a bag of sweets. But while this may be true of some shop-bought smoothies, which can be very processed and full of added sugars, it doesn’t have to be true of one made at home!
You can pack a smoothie full of frozen or fresh fruit – chosen carefully to avoid an overload of natural sugars – and portion it out to roughly 150ml each. Instead of an avalanche of sugar, kids will get important vitamins and nutrients, including vitamin C and vitamin K.
Snack time isn’t all about sugar! Here are some savoury snacks and meal ideas that are healthier than you might think.
One for the ‘eat in moderation’ group, cheese and crackers is a great snack for kids. While not a healthy snack in large quantities, it does provide children with some essential nutrients.
Cheese is full of calcium and protein and is a good source of vitamins A and B12. Kids can eat small amounts of cheese without issue, it only becomes a problem when they keep snacking.
Small amounts of cheese on whole grain crackers are a quick and easy snack that can be part of a balanced diet. Just go easy on the cream cheese!
Simple, quick and one of your five a day. Baked beans on toast have been an important part of the parents’ no-fuss cookbook for years, and there’s no reason that should change. It’s a surprisingly healthy snack that is a great source of protein and fibre.
To make it even healthier, choose a low-sugar, reduced-salt version and serve it on whole-grain bread.
The next time you find yourself guiltily reaching for the fish fingers mid-week, know that you’re actually giving your child important nutrients. Provided that the fish fingers are made of higher-quality cod of course!
Like most foods, they’re best in moderation, but fish fingers in a meal as part of a balanced diet can provide kids with protein and Vitamin B12.
Anything with ‘fries’ in the name may set the unhealthy alarm bells ringing, but sweet potatoes cooked in the oven are one of the healthier snacks for kids.
Full of fibre and antioxidants, and no small amount of Vitamin A, sweet potato is a low-fat, nutritious snack for kids. You can make your roasted sweet potato into fun shapes to make them extra appealing to your kids!
Carb heavy? Absolutely. But pasta’s bad reputation comes from a lack of control over quantity.
Pasta is made from grain, is a great source of protein and provides a variety of vitamins and nutrients. Wholegrain pasta is better for you than white; when you serve an appropriate portion of pasta for dinner, it’s an excellent part of a balanced diet.
More than the pasta itself, what really matters is what you put on it! For anyone hoping otherwise, macaroni cheese is, unfortunately, unsurprisingly unhealthy. There are several healthy and easy recipes for pasta that you can use for your next meal: add plenty of vegetables, choose a tomato-based sauce and you should be good to go!
Steamed or boiled dumplings, popular in Asian cuisine, are a healthy snack idea sure to go down well with kids and the whole family.
The key to making this a healthy snack is paying attention to all the ingredients that go into the filling. You can fill the dumplings with veggies to make sure they’re healthy, but even the popular pork dumplings are healthy for kids when they’re eaten in small quantities! Red meat isn’t good for kids in large amounts, but occasionally eating red meat is a great way to bring iron, zinc and B vitamins into their diet.
Maybe not the fried potato variety, but if the crisps are healthy alternatives, this is a perfectly healthy snack. If you want to make this snack ultra-healthy, you could make your own homemade crisps! Get those all-important veggies into play and make crisps out of everything from snap peas to aubergine.
For dips, guacamole is a good choice. Guacamole is just mashed avocado with seasoning; you can add cherry tomatoes, onion, and peppers to taste. It’s healthy, easy to make – you can get the older kids involved – and get a selection of foods to dip together. Healthy crisps are great, but adding classics like carrot sticks and celery is a fantastic way to get some more veggies into the kids’ diets.
These snack ideas might be unhealthy on the surface, but some clever cooks have managed to come up with healthy alternatives!
Making homemade snacks allows you to control what goes into a recipe: you can limit refined sugar and fats, while making sure fruit and veg are included where possible. Keep in mind that though healthier than their original counterparts, these snacks should still be eaten in moderation.
We’ll admit that not all cornflake cakes are created equal: some recipes are certainly healthier than others.
Most kids will love cornflake cakes whatever form they come in; they’re unlikely to notice if they’re eating a healthy version or not. You can even still give them a cornflake cake coated in chocolate, using this recipe from Sneaky Veg. It uses dark chocolate in combination with maple syrup to sweeten it. Hiding raisins or other dried fruit in the mix is a great way to get some extra fruit into the diet.
We’re not suggesting that fruit muffins are one of your 5 a day, despite what people may want to hear! If the kids want to eat a sweet treat, however, you can easily make mini muffins healthy. These applesauce muffins from Yummy Toddler Food are diet-friendly, and swap out a lot of the bad stuff for healthier alternatives!
If you want to use leftover apples to make your own applesauce you can, but it’s not essential. If store-bought, try to use an unsweetened version to control the amount of added sugar!
Who doesn’t love banana bread? Despite having fruit in the name, it’s not typically a healthy snack. It can easily be transformed into a healthier version though! Try this recipe from Cookie + Kate which swaps out chocolate chips for dried fruit and is filled with sweet spices.
These banana oat waffles from Simply Delicious are a wonderful alternative for kids. Made primarily from rolled oats, with a few natural sweeteners, this is a breakfast that kids are sure to love.
While there are already two bananas in the recipe, you can add extra fruit to help the kids reach their 5 a day.
There’s a healthy version of everything. This recipe from Erin Lives Whole turns this decadent sweet treat into a snack that isn’t going to be your entire daily intake of calories in one sitting.