How to Pack Healthy and Fast Summer Snacks
Happy summer! If your plans are like ours you're looking forward to a fun, but busy summer that's jam packed with camp, day trips, the great outdoors, babysitters, some beach time, Grandparents time, zoo and park trips, play dates and yes, some (limited!) TV time. As you jump from one activity to the next, it's important, nay vital, to stay well nourished and we'd like our snacks to be nutritious AND delicious.
What and how to pack summer snacks for families on the go[/caption] Here are a handful of healthy and convenient snack ideas to make summer activities calm, cool and well fed. I've been talking to a nutritionist who gave me some great advice that we've been instituting. This is likely common knowledge for many, but it really helps me pick and choose the best foods for my family.
Here's the nugget: include protein in every snack and meal AND eat a bite or two of the protein first. This helps balance sugar intake as it takes a little more effort for us to digest the protein and so all the other carbs and yummy stuff behind the protein bites slows down and helps keep sugar regulated.* So with that bit of balancing advice, let's dive into tactics. Start by opting for fresh, whole foods. Challenge yourself to shy away from anything that comes in a bag or package. I know it sounds annoying and potentially harmful to any sense of calm as you're trying to get out the door, but with a little planning it will work. And your kids tummies, brains and bodies will thank you.
Create a snack sack - Designate a tote that will house your water, snacks, containers, towels, any wet wipes. Keep this separate from your summer essentials tote that includes hats, sunscreen, band aids, shades, etc.
H. Two.O. - We're in the car a lot and I for one always seem to be calmed by water if stuck in traffic. Since I'm not talking on the phone or texting, a cool refreshing sip of water, helps me stay calm and at ease in frustrating traffic. And if the sun is out, it's cooling. Same for the kids. Keep the car stocked with water. Don't leave your water in the car, but plan a small landing pad at home where your daily adventures can be sustained with a few bottles of water in stainless steel water bottles. Consider using an old glass juice bottle for your daily dose as the mouth is usually wide enough for a standard ice cube to enter (load up on the ice or flavored ice for fun).
Pack snack like you would lunch - Use our food grade double zippered Wet+Dry Bag. To keep small items cold and refreshing drop them in a stainless steel water bottle with large hole or a stainless coffee travel mug.
Put a kid or two or three in charge of either assembling or at least cleaning the Snack Sack each day. If your kiddos are too young, just tack this onto their to do list for a future date. They're bound to see the value in it.
If camps include snacks, talk to the coordinators about what's on the menu and if you're able to offer to help coordinate the snacks or even pitch in with some of the daily offering. Of course, if the plan is goldfish and apple juice, for the week that's fine, but see if you can bring some apple or orange slices for the group, or at least your little camper(s).
Sample snack rotation includes, but is not limited to:
City Trail Mix - Poll your kiddos for fun recipes and mix in: almonds, peanuts, cashews, raisins, craisins, pepitas, banana chips, cut up dried fruits including apricots, pineapple, mango, unsweetened coconut.
If you're out for a quick get out add frozen blueberries or blackberries for some cool antioxidants. For a more grown up version add lots of your favorites that might not appeal to kids or a bit more pricy - macadamia nuts, dark chocolate at 70% or higher, pomegranate seeds, and more.
Greek Salad for Kids - Toss peeled and seeded cucumber with sweet cherry tomatoes and black olives for a quick and refreshing veggie hit that holds up in room temperature.
Oatmeal bars with flax - Here's one, but the photo doesn't do these justice. Add some ground and sprinkled flaxseed for a nutritional hit!
Fresh fruits and veggies - Nuke broccoli for 30 seconds in some water to soften for better tasting, crunchy veggie snacks. Add these to cut carrots, cucumber, and summer seasonal veggies like peas, kohlrabi and more.
Dried Fruit - dry your own or hit the farmers market where no sugar will be added to nature's dessert!
Frozen banana on a Popsicle stick (or a slender table knife)- Nature's otter pop is packed with nutrients and refreshing on the go. Dive into this first and keep packed in your insulated sack until ready to enjoy. Sprinkle chopped nuts or unsweetened coconut for a delicious twist. Or think outside the peel and create Popsicle kabobs with frozen seasonal berries from your local farmer's market or a visit to the u-pick farm.
Pair crackers with a small container filled with protein packed nut butter (almond, peanut, cashew). Tote along a small cheese knife and let the kids spread to their heart's delight.
Plan to clean out the snack sack daily and spend your summer enjoying your time together not fretting over 'what's for snack?!'
* I'm not a nutritionist or any kind of food expert, but I know you'll use common sense like I try to.