We form a lot of habits very early in life, which can be hard to kick as an adult. With our evolutionary biology literally programmed to devour high calorie, sugary foods, we need all the help we can get to make healthy food choices. On top of that, it’s usually easier to grab a bag of pretzels or a candy bar at the grocery store than to plan out and cook nutritious snacks to pack into lunch boxes throughout the week, or even just to eat ourselves.
Even though there are increasingly available healthy options at stores and markets these days, there’s nothing quite like enjoying something fresh out of your own oven. So if you find yourself with a couple hours of free time over the weekend—or in need of a constructive activity to do with the fam on a rainy afternoon—try some of these easy homemade snack ideas, and feel good knowing exactly what’s in the food your feeding your family.
1. Roasted Chickpeas
This low effort, tasty snack is high in protein, iron and fiber, and low in saturated fats. It’s also extremely versatile, so you can make multiple flavors to suit the whole family’s tastes. More of a savory person myself, I usually create my own spice mix, but for some great flavor suggestions, check out these four recipes for crunchy roasted chickpeas.
Supposedly they stay good up to 4 days stored in an air tight container—but they’ll never last that long.
2. Vegetable Chips
A great alternative to store bought potato chips is crispy home made veggie chips. Get the same satisfying crunch without the added oil, sodium and preservatives with 5-minute microwave sweet potato crisps, or beautifully colorful baked root vegetable chips.
For a different but equally delicious take on vegetable chips, I love the light oniony flavor of baked leek chips. And finally, there’s the classic kale chip, constantly the healthiest option, high in fiber, Vitamins A, K, C and magnesium.
3. Fruit Chips
Though not quite as quick or easy as any of the vegetable chip recipes, these fruity crisps are definitely more kid friendly. After a bit of slicing and dicing, you just have to find away to entertain the kiddos for a couple hours while they slowly dehydrate in the oven at low heat—just don’t forget to set a timer!
4. Roasted Squash or Pumpkin Seeds
Although the season is still a few months away, I basically live off of squash throughout the fall and winter. It’s a great, hearty meat alternative, super versatile, and every time you make it you’re left with this great snacking ingredient as a by-product.
As someone who tries to minimize waste, being able to use the scooped-out seeds is extremely satisfying. They’re also low cal, crunchy and flavorful. I’m addicted to this spicy pumpkin seed recipe (can be substituted for any squash seed), but it’s easily altered for a milder, kid-friendly version.
5. Spiced Mixed Nuts
Mixed nuts are a great energy source, high in poly- and monounsaturated fats, protein and fiber, plus the added benefit of antioxidants and other nutrients found in spices. This recipe for sweet and spicy mixed nuts is the perfect blend of flavor to satisfy a sweet tooth or a salty craving, and takes less than half an hour to prepare!
6. Life Saving Protein Bar
There are a million protein bar recipes on the internet, but I’ve yet to find one as delicious and nutrient=packed as the one my friends and I developed for our backpacking trip on the Guinean Plateau while in the Peace Corps. Of course we had been cut off from many of our favorite snacks for close to two years at that point, which made every homemade concoction that much more satisfying, but when we got lost on the mountain and our 2 day hike turned into 3 ½ days, those protein bars provided us enough nourishment to keep going, even after all our other food ran out—hence the name.
High in fiber, protein, Vitamins A, E and C, and poly- and monounsaturated fats, these bars have everything your body needs to push forward. So even though I don’t expect most of you to find yourselves with no access to sustenance, they should at least get your kids through soccer practice.
2 ½ cups rolled oats
½ tsp baking powder
½ tsp salt
¼ cup honey or agave
¼ cup coconut oil
¼ cup chia seeds
¼ cup moringa powder
¾ cup natural peanut butter (or nut butter of your choice)
½ cup pitted and chopped dates or dried fruit of your choice
½ cup chopped walnuts or nut and seed mix
Preheat oven to 350°
Mix honey, coconut oil and peanut butter in a saucepan over low heat until smooth, then set aside.
In a mixing bowl, combine oats, baking powder, chia seeds and moringa powder.
Slowly combine the dry ingredients and the peanut butter mixture using a wooden spoon. Don’t over mix. Stir in nuts and dates until just incorporated.
Pour into a greased 9 x 13 inch baking pan and bake for 30 minutes. Let cool completely and then cut into bars.