Smart Summer Snacks

This is a guest post by Karen Cicero, Parents' Contributing Food and Nutrition Editor

For the last few days, my daughter's plain graham crackers have been coming back in the lunchbox she takes to camp. When I asked her why she didn't eat them, her reason was clear: "I'm tired of the same stuff!" OK, I get it. I have fallen into a rut at the supermarket buying the same snacks that I know are at least somewhat healthy rather than stopping to read all the ingredients on the packages of new products.

Good thing is, last week I invited a bunch of kids to an event for a story in a future issue of Parents (no spoilers, sorry) and since I had to feed them something while they were there, I asked them to try a bunch of new snacks. Here's what they thought was super yummy and what will be showing up in my daughter's lunchbox next week.

Kids recognized this brand from their organic milk and tried the company's new cracker line without hesitation. They liked all the flavors, including the cheddar snack crackers, organic cheese sandwich crackers, and chocolate grahams in the shape of cows and globes. Confession: I couldn't stop munching on the chocolate grahams either.

The kids particularly enjoyed the flavor of the apple and mango puree. Each 50-calorie pouch has 2 grams of fiber and all the vitamin C that kids need for the day.

It's so colorful (pinkish-purple) yet it doesn't contain any food dyes! It's made with corn, rice, soy, and dried raspberry powder. Bonus: Pirate's Fruity Booty is made in a facility that's free of peanuts and tree nuts.

This is a granola-type bar that's made with five kinds of produce including carrot, kale, date, and apple. It also contains whole grains, fiber, calcium and vitamin D. Kids gobbled up the chocolate chip flavor.

My daughter has been a fan of the company's Dude Ranch chips so I wasn't surprised that the new restaurant style tortilla chips tasted amazing. The kids (and parents) liked the sea salt flavor, which is certified gluten- and nut-free. Just add salsa or guac.

Of course, you're not going to give your kids cookies for snack time every day. But I do pack my daughter cookies in her lunch (for camp and school) once or twice a week. My philosophy: It's better to learn how to have sweets in moderation than avoid them altogether. The kids thought this brand, available exclusively at Whole Foods Market, tasted amazing and I like that I can recognize the ingredients listed on the label.

These pouches—about 30 percent fruit juice and 70 percent water—are perfect for kids who won't drink plain water. They're 40 calories each, and our tasters liked the Super Fruit Punch and Berry Berry Lemonade flavors the best.

What snacks are your kids enjoying this summer?

Snacks are not only fun treats, they're also essential for a healthy lifestyle. Find out why your kids need to snack.


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