Kelly Pritchett knows a thing or two about feeding hungry mouths. As a mother of three boys ranging from ages 4 to 8, and an assistant professor of sports nutrition at Central Washington University, Pritchett spends plenty of time thinking about which foods are best for an active body in need of a boost. “Getting my kids to eat something healthy can be really difficult,” Pritchett says with a laugh. “You’re always assessing the child’s needs and what their body might need right now, but something nutritious is the most important idea.”
When Spartan Kids asked Pritchett for her go-to healthy snacks for kids, she had a quick answer. Her Energy Balls have been a staple not just for her family, but also among the college students at CWU, where Pritchett works with the athletic department to provide cooking demonstrations that teach athletes how to make their own nutritious snacks, smoothies, and power bowls (we’ve included a recipe for one of those bowls below, too!)
Pritchett says that no matter what your child’s nutritional needs are during the day, it’s always important to include these two essential elements: Carbohydrates and protein. Carbohydrates provide fuel for their muscles, while protein aids in building and repairing muscles.
And as is true for parents who are trying to instill any healthy habit in their kids, persistence is key. “At mealtime, provide something you know they’ll eat, but then pair it with a healthy item,” says Pritchett. “It’s hard, and you have to be patient. But keep offering them healthy food, and eventually, they’ll eat it.”
Mouth-Watering Healthy Snacks for Kids
1. Energy Balls
1 cup oats
½ cup nut butter
3 tbsp maple syrup
¼ cup chocolate chips (mini chips work best)
2 tbsp ground flaxseeds
½ tsp cinnamon
½ tsp vanilla
¼ cup unsweetened coconut (optional)
In a large bowl, add all ingredients and stir until combined. Form into 1-inch balls. Store balls in the refrigerator in an airtight container and enjoy for up to two weeks.
Try swapping these ingredients to customize this recipe to your tastes:
Oats ↔ Rice Cereal
Chocolate Chips ↔ Raisins
Maple Syrup ↔ Honey
Ground Flaxseeds ↔ Flaxseeds
Related: How to Raise Spartan Kids
2. Sweet Potato-Chickpea Bowls
1-2 sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into cubes
Three handfuls of kale, cut into ribbons
1 can of chickpeas, drained
½ onion, minced
3-4 cloves of fresh minced garlic
2 Tbsp of olive oil
1 tsp of cumin
3/4 -1tsp chili powder (adjust depending on how spicy you prefer this)
3/4 tsp oregano
Dash of Salt
Pinch of Pepper
2 Tablespoons red wine vinegar
1 cup fresh flat-leaf parsley, tightly packed (about 1 bunch of parsley) 1 cup fresh cilantro, tightly packed (about 1 bunch of cilantro) 1/2 cup diced red onion 3 Tablespoons fresh oregano, tightly packed (optional) 3 cloves of garlic, peeled 2 Tablespoons fresh lemon or lime juice 2 Tablespoons red wine vinegar ¼ tsp sea salt ¼ tsp freshly-ground black pepper ¼ tsp red pepper flakes, or more, to taste ½ cup good-quality olive oil
- In a medium pan over medium heat, add 2 Tbsp of olive oil. Add half the minced garlic and half the onion. Add the cumin, chili powder, and oregano. Cook for 2-3 minutes until the onions are translucent (make sure the heat isn’t too high).
- Add sweet potatoes and sauté until tender.
- Add chickpeas and sauté for 2-3 minutes. Use a spatula to remove the sweet potato-chickpea mixture from pan.
- Add a touch more oil to the pan and increase the heat to high. Add the kale, and cook until slightly wilted, 2-3 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.
- Add all ingredients except the olive oil to a food processor, and pulse a few times until chopped.
- Slowly stream in the olive oil, while pulsing the mixture a few more times until the olive oil is combined, and stopping to scrape down the sides of the food processor if needed.
- Serve immediately, or refrigerate in a sealed container for up to 3 days.
Create your bowl:
- In a serving bowl, add the sweet potato-chickpea mixture.
- Top with kale and chimichurri.
Try adding these ingredients to customize this recipe to your tastes:
Veggies: 2 Cups of Broccolini or diced red onion
Carbs: ½ Cup of rice, farro, quinoa
Protein: Chicken or beef
Sauces: Pesto or tahini
3. Homemade Trail Mix
Dried Fruit: Mango, raisins, apricots, apples, pears, blueberries
Nuts and Seeds: Almonds, cashews, walnuts, pecans, peanuts, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, etc.
Sweet Additions (Optional): Chocolate chips, chocolate-covered raisins, yogurt-covered raisins
Mix and match the ingredients using 1-3 ingredients from each ingredient category to create an even 1:1 ratio of all three categories.