If there is one thing that seems more daunting than deciding what to cook, it’s got to be what to snack on; something that’ll work for all of us (simply because it’s a pain making a teeny bit of different things for two adults and a half ticket) and is also guilt-free or at least not too calorific and fatty.
I need to take some extra efforts since there is a toddler involved. As easy and delicious as offering biscuits/cookies, chocolate and chips sounds, I try my best to rely on them only if I have nothing else to offer or if he isn’t ready to eat anything else and asks for these specifically and wants nothing else. So basically, everything in moderation is what we try to follow.
Thank god for my son, my husband and I carry at least one healthy snack a day too. These ideas that I am about to share are the ones that have almost always worked for us in spite of the growing change in tastes and preferences of our toddler. These are simple, wholesome and work just as well for us adults too and are easy to pack as well.
All that you require to do is to know what your family enjoys and a little bit of planning (by little bit, I really mean a little bit because I barely ever plan my meals/snacks in advance) so that you know what to get when you go grocery shopping.
1- Fruits –
This is a complete no-brainer. Although A has started having preferences now and what used to work for us doesn’t always work now, fruits are still an excellent and healthy snack option. Berries, oranges, pomegranate seeds, apple wedges, sliced grapes, watermelon, sweet melon, all sorts of melons in fact, pineapple cubes are some of our winners. Add a sprinkling of kala namak or chaat masala for making fruits like oranges, apples and pomegranate more interesting. Peanut butter or almond butter with apples and pears is quite tasty too.
2- Unsweetened Fruit Juices, Smoothies, Nice Cream –
I prefer eating my fruits than drinking them (also because it’s a few dishes lesser to wash) but if I do have the time and patience, I make a juice or smoothie. Make them more filling and healthy by adding a mix of fruits and veggies of choice, oats, flax seed, chia and the likes. Another go-to is making a ‘nice cream’ made by blending super ripe, frozen bananas with a sweetener of choice (optional) and topping them with cereals or fresh fruits. Add some unsweetened cocoa powder and you have a chocolaty nice cream. This however tastes best if had soon after it’s made.
3- Fruit Roll Ups –
We get some excellent sugar free fruit rollups here and A loves them. A favorite from back home is Naturo (these however have a lot of sugar). If you have time (a lot of it), patience and an oven, you can make these at home too. (recipe here)
4- Vegetables –
Just like fruits, vegetables that can be eaten raw are a great snack option. Cucumbers, tomatoes and carrots are staples for us. Oven roasted veggies, sweet potato or bittergourd ‘fries’, pan fried tikkis work just as well. Make things interesting with hummus or a thick yogurt based dip.
5- Sprouts and Beans –
Boiled and salted chickpeas, sprouts, kidney beans or any type of bean for that matter make for a filling snack. You can even make a meal out of these by adding other veggies and choice of condiments or dressing. A loves to pick every single bean with a toothpick or fork and this turns out to be an entertaining activity while also filling him up. Another great idea is to oven roast chickpeas. It’s DELICIOUS. (recipe here)
6- Yogurt/Greek Yogurt –
Plain, sweetened with fruits, sweetened with sweeteners, topped with fruits, topped with veggies, spiced, non-spiced, EVERYTHING works!
7- Makhana and Puffed Rice –
These are inexpensive and an absolute favorite in our household. I roast makhana for a good 10-12 minutes on med-low flame in some ghee and top it with basic condiments like turmeric, chilli powder, chaat masala and salt. Same goes with puffed rice. I use sunflower oil instead of ghee for this and add in some curry leaves which cook up to crunchy perfection. This also comes handy for putting together a quick Bhel.
8- Cereals/Granola/Muesli –
Dry cereals make for a delicious and easy snack. I mostly get sugar-free or low sugar cereals anyway (I hate the extremely sweet ones with a vengeance). We usually stick to corn flakes, oats squares, muesli/granola with dried fruits and nuts and rice krispies occasionally.
Poha doubles up as a snack and breakfast option for us. It takes barely ten minutes to put together and is filling too.
9- Cheese Slices –
I feel like a kid in the toy shop every single time I am at the Supermarket Deli area because CHEESE! Not surprisingly, my son has taken after me when it comes to cheese. So, this is a winner of a snack option for us. Our usual picks to eat as is are slightly grilled Paneer, Halloumi (so that it doesn’t harden once it gets cold), slices of Mild Cheddar, Gouda, Colby Jack, Gruyere, Buffalo Mozzarella, oh I can go on and on. We also get the pre-portioned cheese triangles for A. It has turned out to be a compulsory part of his breakfast now.
10- Homemade Popcorn –
Super easy to make and perfect for making you feel like you are having ‘junk’ especially when a little butter magically makes it way into it.
11- Dry fruits and Nuts, Homemade Energy Bars –
Simple. Although I have never been the type that feels less hungry after eating a handful of nuts, these make for a great in between snacks snack for me. For some reason, A doesn’t prefer nuts. None of them. But weirdly enough he loves the energy bars I make at home and all that goes into making these are nuts plus pitted dates. Ha! But seriously, this is easy to put together and super healthy too. Just try not to pop in more than two at a time.
12- Homemade Baked Goodies (crackers, muffins, non-frosted cupcakes, fruit breads, etc.)
I try my best to use whole wheat flour and go for sweeteners like date syrup, jaggery, etc. in place of refined sugar while baking cakes and cupcakes and I *think* these are healthier than store bought ones while also satisfying that craving for something sweet. If you know me, you’d also know that a lot of my baking is butter free too.
What are some of your favorite snack options, tell me? I’d also like to mention here that my son does not eat all of these all the time. There are days when none of these work (any food, for that matter) and then there are days when we can’t get enough of some of these. The only thing that is consistent is me offering him all these things and never making anything specially for him just because he doesn’t want to eat something. He eats what we eat and if he doesn’t, we don’t push him to.