By now, you’ve probably noticed that I’m not the most creative when it comes to naming my recipes.  I played with a few different names but decided that I might as well just call these what they are  – they are cookies that are healthy snack.  So today I am going to share with you my recipe for Healthy Snack Cookies – a great mid-day snack for busy toddlers (and adults too!)

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One of the most frequent topics that I get asked about when it comes to feeding toddlers/kids is snacks.  More specifically, parents are looking for healthy ideas to fuel their kids in between meals.

A lot of parents struggle when it comes to snacks.  As babies move into the toddler stage, their appetite often increases significantly.  Add in the fact that a lot of them are now walking running (and thus using a lot of energy) and many parents feel like their toddlers are constantly looking for something to eat.  This can be especially true for “picky” toddlers who don’t have a high intake of food during meals.

Snacks are important for toddlers to give them the energy they need to play, explore and learn throughout the day.  However, the quality of the snack is almost as important as the snack itself.

Important things to consider when choosing a snack for kids:

  • Throughout the day, kids need a good balance of the macronutrients: fats, carbs and protein.  Healthy fats are very important for brain and nervous system development in children, carbohydrates (in the form of whole grains, fruit and vegetables) are important for energy, while protein is essential for building muscle and tissue and keeping kids feeling full for longer.
  • Snacks should contain Real Food.  In order to fuel children most effectively, snacks should not contain white sugar, refined carbohydrates, hydrogenated oils or other processed ingredients.  And no, fruit juice in a carton or juice box is not Real Food.
  • And of course, the yummy factor is important to make sure kids will eat what you are giving them!

I think it is obvious that most snacks sold in packages do not meet these criteria. So yes, unfortunately snacks that do meet these criteria are going to need some preparation.

Trust me, as a mom I know how stretched for time everyone is these days.  Plus, when you have a kid crying at your feet for a snack, it’s not exactly the ideal scenario to be cutting, chopping and baking.  Sometimes it’s just so easy to grab a box of goldfish crackers and move on.  I’ve been there!

However, what is easy in the short-term will often cause bigger problems in the long-term.  The processed white flour in this snack will  cause a blood sugar spike in kids, and the lack of protein (nope, that’s not really cheese in there), means that they will crash quickly.  The result?  A cranky tired kid who is still hungry in a couple of hours.  Not to mention the negative health implications of all the other processed ingredients.  To top it all off, the more of these nutritionally devoid and processed snacks kids eat, the more they will prefer them over Real Food.  So later in life, when they are the ones choosing the snack, they will be less likely to make a healthy choice.

To address these issues, I am a huge, huge, huge advocate of preparing food in advance.  In my opinion, it is the key to always having Real Food at your fingertips for mealtime and snack-time.

Now let’s get to the cookies already!

This recipe for Healthy Snack Cookies was inspired by some pears that had been sitting in my fridge for quite some time.  They were starting to get pretty soft, so I decided to toss them into the food processor make them into a purée.  The pureé was so sweet and delicious that I thought it would be a great sweetener for a cookie recipe.  And I was right.

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These Healthy Snack Cookies are a great example of a make-ahead snack.  I usually make 2 batches at a time and then put them in a ziplock bag in the freezer so that I can pull them out in the morning so that they are ready for Tyson (or myself!) to eat when hunger strikes.  They are a very nutritionally complete snack (fat, whole-grain carbs, protein – check!) containing only Real Food ingredients.  And the best part is that they are really tasty.

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Healthy Snack Cookies

Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time:  25 minutes
Yield: 12-18 cookies

Ingredients

Dry
2 cups rolled oats (not quick oats)
2/3 cup almond meal, brown rice flour or buckwheat flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp cinnamon

Wet
1 and 1/2 cups of fruit purée*
1/2 cup coconut oil
2 tsp vanilla

Optional
1 tbsp blackstrap molasses (not regular molasses)
small handful of raisins or nuts

Directions

1.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2.  Pour oats into a large mixing bowl and stir in remaining dry ingredients.
3.  In a separate bowl, beat together wet ingredients until smooth.
4.  Pour wet ingredients into dry ingredients and mix until well combined.  Add blackstrap molasses, raisins or nuts if you are using them.
5.  Drop cookie dough by tablespoons onto a baking sheet lined with a non-stick mat or parchment paper.
6.  Bake for 25 minutes.  Check with a toothpick and bake a little longer if necessary (as there are no eggs in this recipe, there is no need to worry if you eat them undercooked).

*This recipe is very versatile in that you can use any fruit purée, including applesauce or mashed ripe bananas.  I used mostly pear purée for this batch, but I didn’t quite have enough so I used some jarred baby prunes.  Any jarred baby fruit purée will work in a pinch!

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These cookies contain such wholesome ingredients that they would even make a great breakfast on the go.  Cookies for breakfast?  I think most kids would be okay with that!  I’ve even been known to slather a bit of almond butter on the top of them to up the protein and make them even more filling.  Yum, yum.

I will definitely be posting more healthy snack recipes in the future so for all those parents out there who are struggling with this common dilemma, come back soon for more ideas!

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