Sweet and Salty Healthy Snacks

These healthy snacks satisfy a sweet tooth or a craving for salt.

Young boy reaching for pretzels
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When your child wants "a real snack, Mom, not vegetables again!", offer up these kid-pleasing, sweet or salty healthy snacks. There is no need to ban favorites like pretzels, chips, and cookies outright; that just makes them more appealing anyway. Instead, try more nutritious options that still deliver the flavor and crunch your kid is craving. You'll find them better for your own waistline as well!

Healthy, Salty Snacks

If you swap baked items for fried and choose whole grains, your snack will still offer a savory crunch, but with less fat and more fiber. More fiber also means more filling, so you don't need to eat as much. Also, watch portion sizes: Serve in a small container or bag instead of letting your kid (or yourself, let's face it) run free with a whole bag or box of goodies.

Look for whole-grain, low-salt, and/or baked versions of these favorites. Then pair with protein fruit, or vegetables for a healthy, well-rounded and satisfying snack. Think: Crackers with cheese or chips with salsa. (Note that some of these items, such as nuts, seeds, and popcorn, can be choking hazards for kids under 4 years old.)

  • Bread: Check nutrition label for sugar content, and make sure whole grains—such as "whole wheat flour"—are listed first on the ingredient list
  • Crackers; Read a review of a rice cracker that's fortified with nuts for extra protein
  • Pretzels: Taste-test some whole-grain options for a pleasant surprise
  • Tortilla chips, such as these multigrain options
  • Potato chips: Choose baked versions
  • Veggie chips made with root vegetables, or with legumes, like lentils or beans
  • Tortillas or wraps
  • Cereal: Make it low-sugar, whole-grain, and high in fiber for the most healthful option
  • Popcorn—it's a whole grain and has lots of fiber, but skip the oil, butter and limit added salt
  • Pumpkin or sesame seeds
  • Roasted, unsalted nuts:  Add a dusting of sea salt if you need it
  • Roasted seaweed (you might be surprised; many kids love it!)

Healthy, Sweet Snacks

Look for recipes, preparations, or packages that use fruit as a sweetener and contain low-fat dairy products or healthy oils (such as olive oil). Again, as with salty snacks, pair these with fruit, vegetables, or protein to boost nutrient content: Serve cookies with milk, for example, or mix fruit into homemade gelatin. While these treats should still be eaten in moderation, they are sweet enough to prompt a smile.

  • Yogurt: Check label for sugar content and artificial flavorings; consider buying plain yogurt and flavoring it yourself with honey, agave, fresh or frozen fruit, or all-fruit preserves
  • Pudding made at home with low-fat milk—or check the packaged kind; some brands are surprisingly low in sugar
  • Gelatin, homemade or packaged
  • Fig bars
  • Granola bars or protein bars: Be on the lookout for lower-in-sugar varieties
  • Oatmeal cookies
  • Animal crackers
  • Graham crackers
  • Fruit leathers made with fruit juice/purees only
  • Dried fruit without added sugars
  • Freeze-dried fruit
  • Muffins or quick breads loaded with fruit or vegetables (you can also swap unsweetened applesauce for oil when baking these kinds of treats)
  • Trail mix made with nuts, seeds, and dried fruit (no candy, or just a few pieces)

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