9 Latin American-Inspired Snacks Kids Will Love

Give summer treats a fresh take with these classic Latino foods you can make at home or find in grocery stores.  

Latin Treats Alfajores Cookies Rimma Bondarenko/Shutterstock

1. Papaya-Mango Smoothie

Christopher Columbus referred to the papaya as "the fruit of angels" and that's not a stretch! One cup of the sunset-hued fruit—native to Mexico and South America—packs healthy doses of vitamin C, folate, and beta-carotene. Give your kids a taste of the tropics by blending 1 cup each of sliced papaya and mango, 8 oz of coconut water, ½ cup of kefir and a tablespoon of honey into a nutrition-packed smoothie.

2. Tequeños

Consider them the mozzarella sticks of Latin America! Tequeños, rich dough wrapped around strips of cheese and fried to finger-licking perfection, are a favorite snack throughout South America. These pre-made bites can be heated and served for a quick summer snack. El Latino Deditos de Queso, amigofoods.com; $8.

3. Cheesy Corn Cakes

Arepas—grilled corn patties that are sweet or savory—are eaten throughout the day in Colombia and Venezuela and are often split open and stuffed with cheese or meats. Make your own version of this classic snack by grilling sweet corn cakes, like Thomas' Toast-R-Cakes, on a buttered pan. Add ½ cup of shredded mozzarella cheese and top with a second cake. Grill until brown, flip, and repeat!

4. Fruit Pops

It’s summer on a stick! Mexican’s version of the popsicle is a paleta- pure, natural ingredients blended into a yummy frozen treat.  Can’t find a local paletero?  Outshine Fruit Bars come in flavors like mango, coconut and pineapple with chunks of real fruit. The tasty bars are free of artificial flavors, ingredients and high-fructose corn syrup – guaranteed to satisfy your little one’s summer pop craving. Outshine Fruit Bars 6-pack, amazon.com; $5.

5. Chicken Taquitos

Put a spin on traditional tacos with flautas—aka taquitos—a rolled-up and crisp-fried version of the classic Mexican dish. These finger-sized portions are perfect for the littlest hands to grab-and-go! 365 Everyday Value Chicken Taquitos, amazon.com; $5.

6. Plantain Chips

Plain ol' potato chips get an upgrade with these small but mighty bites. Made with green bananas—a diet staple throughout most of Latin America—the bite-sized morsels pack a crunchy, salty punch! Inka Chips, amazon.com; $2.

7. Guava-Cheese Empanadas

Think of it as a Hotpocket…with a twist. Most Latin American countries have their own version of the empanada, a stuffed pastry that can be baked or fried. This version, made with cream cheese and guava paste—a jelly-like puree of the tropical fruit—will give your kids a taste of the Caribbean!

Recipe

Frozen empanada disks (found in the freezer aisle of your local grocery store)

Egg Wash

Guava Paste (amazon.com, $11)

Block of cream cheese

Layer ¼ wide strip each of guava paste and cream cheese in the center of each disk. Fold one end of the pastry over the other and crimp the edges with the back of a fork. Brush with egg wash and bake for 25 minutes in a pre-heated oven at 350 degrees.

8. Alfajores

This dulce de leche—filled confection is the unofficial cookie of Argentina! The caramel middle and soft, crumbly ends make the perfect after-dinner summer treat. Alfajor 6-Pack Argentinean Dulce de Leche Cookie, amazon.com, $13.

9. Pão de queijo

You'll find pão de queijo—small, baked cheese balls—at breakfast tables all over Brazil. But the ooey-gooey bite-sized treats double as snacks, too. This pre-mixed, gluten-free version is ready in no time and will give your kids a taste of the real thing! Chebe Gluten-Free Original Cheese Bread Mix, thrivemarket.com; $3.