37 Real Food Snacks for At-Home Learning
By Marilee Nelson |
This year, many of us are navigating the unfamiliar waters of virtual learning or homeschooling, and like anything new (and unexpected) it can cause its share of stress. Even if you don't have kiddos in the household, for some the new frontier of remote working can leave us reaching for snacks throughout the day. This is why it’s so important to pay special attention to everyone's health. As we discussed in this article, stressful times tend to trigger our deep desire for sweet, salty, crunchy, fatty, and nostalgic comfort foods; and there’s a reason for this. When we’re stressed out our bodies require more glucose, which comes from foods rich in carbohydrates, to create glycogen which feeds your brain and liver. Add to this the cognitive demands of learning (and teaching) from home and you can see why your family may be tempted to indulge in less-than-healthy snacks.
The problem is, foods high in refined sugar tend to overload our glycogen stores and when that happens the body converts the rest of that glucose to fat which leads to all kinds of metabolic health issues down the road. Plus, high-sugar, highly processed foods are notorious for causing blood sugar crashes which affect focus, concentration
The key is to have the right nutrient-dense snacks around to satisfy those cravings while supporting healthy (and happy) blood sugar levels and nourishing developing brains. While we don't always make the best choices when we are under stress, having these snacks on hand makes nourishing ourselves that much easier!
What To Avoid When Navigating Snack Choices
- Refined sugar—that includes cane sugar but coconut sugar, maple syrup, maple sugar, date sugar, stevia, or honey are OK
- Refined Omega 6 oils—such as canola, sunflower, safflower, corn, soybean, and cottonseed oil
- Palm Oil—(avoid unless properly sourced and sustainable)
- Excitotoxins - includes brain and gut disrupting natural and artificial flavors, MSG, and gums—such as Xanthan Gum, guar gum, locust bean gum, and carrageenan
- Artificial sweeteners
- Additives—such as nitrites and waxes
- Dyes—such as FD&C colors
- Preservatives—such as BHA, BHT, benzoates, sulfites
- GMOs—look for non-GMO-verified foods, buy organic, and/or avoid GMO ingredients, the most common in snack foods are soy, corn, cottonseed oil, milk, sugar (because it comes from GMO beets), and aspartame.
- Suspicious-looking ingredients—anything that starts with “poly” or sounds like a chemical is best avoided or researched first
Related Reading: How to Use Food as Medicine to Heal
37 Real Food Snacks for At-Home Learning
Throw 'em together Fast Real Food Snacks:
- Organic cheese with gluten-free crackers
- Hummus with avocado oil cassava chips or cut up carrot or raw sweet potato sticks
- Roasted sweet potatoes with nut butter on top
- Olives with roasted almonds
- Pickles with cubes of organic cheese
- Rice cake thins with SafeCatch tuna salad, nut butter and fruit-sweetened jam, avocado with tomato, etc.
- Plain unsweetened yogurt (organic dairy or dairy-free) with hemp seeds and raw honey or maple syrup
- Sliced bananas topped with nut butter and raisins
- Skillet toasted pecans in butter or oil with sea salt
- Ants on a log (celery with peanut butter and raisins, or sunflower butter to keep it nut-free)
- Dates with roasted nuts
- Fruit and veggies smoothies: blend up a banana with your favorite frozen fruits or berries, add a handful of greens (spinach is the most mild) and/or some avocado, your favorite organic or dairy-free plain, unsweetened yogurt or kefir, and a bit of stevia or raw honey. For extra protein, you can add hemp or chia seeds, but you probably won’t need it if you’re using yogurt or kefir.
- Chips with homemade guacamole or organic salsa (we like Xochitl or Jackson Honest chips)
- Granola (like GoRaw or Purely Elizabeth Original) with yogurt
- Toast with nut butter and banana
- Sliced apple with nut butter
- Gopal’s raw fruit + nut bars and sticks
Pre-Packaged Real Food Snacks:
- Daily Harvest offers fresh smoothies as pre-made as possible...without pre-making them, just throw all the pre-measured ingredients into a blender and go
- Unsweetened applesauce
- Lesser Evil Himalayan popcorn
- CHOMPS free-range pepperonis
- Manna bread (great straight from the toaster oven with organic butter)
- Go Raw Organic Sprouted seeds
- Trader Joe’s Organic Popcorn with Olive Oil
- GimMe Seaweed Snacks (with avocado or olive oil)
- Plantain chips with salsa
- Sprouted bagels with nut butter, organic cream cheese, fruit-sweetened jam
- Organic Larabars
- Wella Bar Powerful Peanut and Peanut Cocoa – These specifically don’t have sunflower oil. They do need to be kept cold and contain organic milk.
- Thunderbird Bar
- Epic Bar (the ones without added sugar)
- Organic Active Greens Raw Bar
- Bearded Brothers bars
Bake or Make with the Kids Real Food Snacks
- Homemade muffins: check out our Healthy Swaps for your Favorites Comfort Foods article for advice on creating healthier baked goods from any recipe
- Medical Medium Raspberry Thumbprint Cookies (these are healthy, nourishing, gluten-free, and easy to make. Just be sure and use fruit-sweetened jam)
- Crazy hot dogs: kids love this! You take 1 sprouted grain or gluten-free hot dog bun, then use a banana for the “hot dog”, nut butter for “mustard”, and jam for “ketchup”...so fun!
- Homemade popsicles: we basically blend up smoothies then freeze them in silicone popsicle moulds
- Nut butter energy balls: for these you mix up some organic oats, your favorite nut butter, honey, flax or chia seeds, then add extras like coconut, chocolate chips, raising, etc. and roll into balls. Click here for loads of no-bake energy ball recipes from Eating Bird Food.
- Hard boiled eggs (let the kiddos peel them!)
- Creamy Chia Pudding: this real food recipe from Cookie and Kate is ah-mazing (and dairy-free)
- Chocolate sweet potato pudding: this recipe from Tasha’s Artisan Foods has just 5 real food ingredients, no refined sugar at all, and comes together in the blender...yum!
- Bal’s Lentil Cookies: these may sound weird, but they’re a GREAT way to get more nutrition and protein in your kiddos...while using up lentils. Just use the Healthy Swaps post to sub out ingredients, swap out chocolate chips for raisins, and they’ll turn out great!
- Egg muffin cups: we like this tutorial from Healthy Seasonal Recipes, but you can take the basic recipe and add whatever you like. Be sure to line your muffin tin with unbleached parchment muffin papers for easy freezing
- Fruit and yogurt parfaits: we layer up organic yogurt with granola and berries in pretty glasses...always a hit
- Homemade jello: check out this recipe from Wellness Mama, and be sure to use gelatin from grass-fed cows
Marilee Nelson is an Environmental Toxins expert who has spent nearly 30 years advocating for the chemically-sensitive and chronically-ill. She is a Board Certified Nutritionist, Certified Bau-Biologist and Bau-Biology Inspector and specializes in Food As Medicine. She has helped thousands of families and individuals identify, heal and recover from toxic exposures and is on a mission to revolutionize the way American families view their health.