6 Guilt-free Snacks I Feed My Family

Today I’m going to share with you my snacking stand-bys — the snacks I can feel good about giving my family because they are simple and delicious, and don’t contain anything extra (unless we choose to add to them).   

My most helpful tip for healthy snacking would be to avoid buying crackers, chips, and pretzels. I’ve learned the hard way that whenever those snacks are around we eat them up fast, even if we’re not hungry. 

A variety of saucers of healthy snacks including almonds,walnuts,freeze-dried strawberries, and dried mango on a black background.

So here are our Top 6 Go-To Snacks:

Fresh Fruit  

I like the tasty simplicity of fruit. Here are some of our favorites:

  • Apples — my kiddos like Golden Delicious. I often give them half a cored apple as a snack when it gets close to dinnertime. It tides them over, but still leaves them with a good appetite. My husband and I like Honeycrisp. We have them whole or chop them up to put in our oatmeal. 
  • Oranges. I like to slice them in half along the equator of the orange, and then again into wedges with the skin on. I find them easier to eat this way as the white membrane gets tucked inside the orange. What’s more, my youngest son is more likely to eat the entire wedge when they are cut this way.
Sliced orange wedges on a white plate with a Christmas tree in the background.
  • Grapefruit — in my mind you’ve gotta do it like the French, using a technique called supreming. By excluding any membrane from your finished cutting, the grapefruit loses all its bitterness. And with all of the bitterness gone, grapefruit has become one of my kids favorite fruits. 
Supremeing pink grapefruit with a knife.
  • Bananas — long time viewers might raise an eyebrow here, because I’m not a huge fan. But the rest of my family likes them, and they’re an easy and nutritious snack. 
  • Pears: Bartlett, D’Anjou, and Bosc are three of the more common pears. We like them a little on the riper side, once they’ve begun to soften up. In the old days, people used to eat them with Miracle Whip. You can see how that tastes here
  • Pineapple. You can learn a fantastic new way of pulling apart a pineapple here. Also, did you know that there is a new variety of pink pineapple called the Pink-Glow
  • Watermelon — a classic summer stand-by. I like getting a ¼ or a ½ so the fruit doesn’t take up so much room in the fridge. 
  • Berries — when strawberries are in season, I like to wash them right when I get them home from the store, then cut the leaves off before stashing them in the fridge. That way they are ready to serve when wanted and never end up languishing sadly in a clamshell.

Dried Fruit

Full of antioxidants, naturally sweetened, dried fruits have a long shelf life. And they won’t get bruised or go bad on a car ride or a hike. Some of our favorites include:

  • unsweetened dried mango — nature’s fruit roll-up. My favorite. I’ve eaten pounds and pounds of these in my lifetime.
Orange unsweetened dried mango slices on a blue and white saucer on a black background.
  • raisins – my husband likes these.  The rest of us barely tolerate them, eating them only grudgingly when they are included in trail mix. 
  • freeze-dried strawberries and raspberries – these pack intense flavor and great crunch, but get soggy quickly, so once opened they should be eaten within a couple of days.  They’re also great to add to cereal or granola. Of course there are other freeze dried fruits, but those are our favorite. Have you ever tried freeze-dried bananas

Nuts 

Packed with protein, I like to grab a small handful of nuts to tide myself over until the next meal. Our favorites:

    • almonds — I like the 50% less salt version from Trader Joe’s.
    • walnuts — I add these to our oatmeal in the morning. Not only do they taste good, but they are known to help lower cholesterol
    • cashews — my personal favorite. 
    • peanuts — my older kiddo’s favorite snacking nut.
  • Do note: both almonds and cashews are said to have a relatively high oxalate content. If eaten in large numbers, kidney damage and/or other chronic health problems could ensue. So moderation, people! We’ve recently started buying nuts and dried fruit from Nuts.com. With their high quality, cute packaging, and super fast service right to your door, I highly recommend them!

Popcorn

A great crunchy snack that not only smells amazing when you pop it, but is ripe for customization. I found popcorn-on-the-cob from our local farmer’s market. For us, one cob is the perfect portion for 4 people.  I like that I can season the popcorn to our liking. You can find the recipe for popcorn-on-the-cob here.

A whole cob of yellow popcorn.
Ready to be popped in the microwave.

Yogurt 

Another protein-packed snacking option, I like to buy plain yogurt so we can opt for a sweet snack or a savory marinade.  My younger kiddo likes it just with real maple syrup. I like honey and frozen berries and sometimes a few nuts for crunch. Topped with granola is another great option, too. 

Did you know that you can make yogurt yourself at home? Well you can, and it’s pretty easy. For my first batch, I start with a cup of store-bought yogurt. Subsequent batches can be incubated using a cup of yogurt reserved from the last batch.  

Here’s the how-to video:

Homemade Applesauce

This one’s relatively new on the list because I only recently started making homemade applesauce when I made Edna Lewis’s Triple Stacked Apple Pie. And it’s so much easier than I thought!

The key is using the right kind of apples, so that they cook down quickly and are easy to mash. Golden delicious and Fuji are both good choices. 

For one smallish batch, I use five large apples and just a couple of teaspoons of sugar. After cooking for about fifteen minutes on the stovetop, all that’s left to do is mash. The subtle flavor of cooked apple is delicious. If you want to amplify the flavor, add a splash of apple cider, for me the quintessential taste of autumn in New England. 

My kids like to eat it warm, topped with a pinch of cinnamon. 

I hope these ideas help you to start snacking healthier. Happy snacking!

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