Health Nuts Unite!

Okay, imaginary friends.  I need some help.

Bean eats terribly.  And since Bean is 18-months-old and can’t fix himself his own meals, what that really means is that I feed my son terribly.  When he was little, I spent all this time preparing homemade baby food for him.  It was steamed veggies and fresh fruit.  I even cut out the juice.  I was so healthy conscious.

And then I went back to work.

And then I became pregnant.

Those aren’t excuses.  They’re just facts of life.  I’m not home all day to prepare and store food for him and by the time I get home in the evenings, I’m beat.  Now, mealtime is all about speed.  I’m tired and the last thing I want to do is prepare some big, lavish, healthy meal that Bean won’t even eat anyway.  For the most part, I can manage a healthy, well-balanced MEALS, but what I’m having trouble with are snacks.  It’s so convenient to grab a bag of pretzels or goldfish, but I feel like that’s such a cop out.  Surely there are quicker, healthier snacks for him to eat out there.  I just haven’t thought of any.

So, I’m asking you all.  What in the world are you feeding your toddlers that is healthy and quick and portable.  We’re on the go a lot and most of Bean’s snacks are in route somewhere.  Any suggestions would be more than welcome!  Help a motha’ out!


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39 Thoughts to “Health Nuts Unite!”

  1. Aidan is 14mths and he eats on the go a lot too. I find Sultana’s (raisins) are brilliant. They’re fun for him to pick up, sweet and keep his hands busy. Strawberries are another great treat, they’re already pre packaged! In Australia we also have fruit snack bars, basically stewed fruit (apple/banana) wrapped in a wholegrain biscuit. Dried Apricots are a winner and so are dates. Grapes or even blueberries.
    I found I was giving Aidan easy, overly manufactured food all the time while we were out and I cleared out the cupboards and went for a fresher approach. I also invested a lot in Tupperware lol
    Aidan and Bean should totally hang out when you come on tour to Sydney Australia, because you’ll be totally rich and famous from your book xx

  2. Amy

    I’m another massive fan of dried fruit, we have a small Tupperwear container that fits in my handbag we pull out for snack emergencies. Will loves it so much he even knows where to find it in the middle of church!

  3. oh… I’d be interested to know. We’re not quite at that point yet – I’m just now getting my little guy used to drinking out of a sippy cup. 🙂

  4. Rohan loves bananas, whole wheat goldfish and whole wheat ritz, Earth’s Best cereal bars, halved grapes (he LOVES these), and craisins, so I usually pack those when we are on the go. Pieces of cheese also work well, but do tend to melt if it gets too hot… Maybe things like Cheerios or other small cereals would work. We haven’t tried this yet, but they have these pouches at Starbucks (and probably Whole Foods and Trader Joe’s) that are made with organic fruit. Might be a good solution as well? Good luck!

  5. Jocelyne

    Hey, here’s what I have to say… all food contains nutrients. Kids need more calories and more fat than we do. So don’t stress it too much.

    In terms of portable and healthy, my kids went for baby carrots and hummous, goldfish and those awesome (but expensive) freeze dried baby fruits, lots of “finger” fruit, yogurt-covered raisins, whole grain crackers of some kind and cheese strings or Babybels, oh, and cream cheese tortilla “pinwheels”.

    Good luck. And remember that this is really Not That Important in the greater scheme of things.

  6. Ashley

    For dinner meals, try Jessica Seinfeld’s book, Deceptively Delicious. She has quick and easy recipes in there that adults like, and everything has a veggie puree somewhere in it. If you make the purees on the weekends, it’s not so bad, and then you can always sneak some veggies into other things you make for Bean during the week as well.

  7. Nate's Mom

    What a great question! Excited to see what others are feeding their tots! As for Nate (17 months), he loves fruit. He can eat fruit until the cows come home. Strawberries, grapes, melon, pears. Remember those dicing parties you wrote about ages ago? I still have them. When we buy the fruit, I use a naptime to dice them up in to wee tupperware containers so they’re ready to go. We just learned that we don’t need to cut up the banana for Nate any more. We cut it in half so it’s a little shorter for his hands and give it to him whole. It’s usually gone in a minute or so. Earth’s Best fruit cereal bars are great but they get squished in my bag pretty easily. Diced cheese and Annie’s Organics saltines (which are the best crackers I’ve ever tasted) + tomatoes are also a favorite around here. And freeze dried yogurt. We get both the Gerbers and Happy Baby, depending on what the store offers. Greatest snack ever. Super healthy, not messy, lasts forever, and loved by Nate.

  8. My bug is 18 months old and he snacks on cereal (a great source of iron by the way), crackers, gerber yogurt melts, dried fruit, gerber freeze dried fruit, diced up fresh fruit, McDonalds apple slices when I’m in the car with a screaming toddler, granola with carob chips, cheese (though not real portable but he does like lunchables with just the cheese, meat, and crackers), fruit leathers, and cereal bars but I chop them into like 4 pieces and put them into a tiny plastic container or else he smooshes them everywhere. Hope that gives you some ideas. Kids need snacks, don’t feel guilty!

  9. Sabra

    check out lots of delicious dried fruits and veggies. (whole foods introduced me to them.) they aren’t dried in the traditional manner — making them less chewy and “choke-able” than the usual dried fruit. we also swear by little cups of mandarin oranges packed in water or no sugar added juice as a sweet treat!

  10. We mainly feed fruit (apple, banana, peaches) or peas for snack because she loves them. I also like the kids cliff bar. It’s like a vitamin disguised as a yummy granola bar.
    As for meals, I’ve started cooking from Jessica Seinfeld’s book. You make purees very similar to baby food a couple times a month and then hide them in her recipes. The hits at our house are the cauliflower eggs, the pumpkin oatmeal, sweet potato french toast, the spinach chicken fingers. I try to still introduce veggies without hiding them, but it makes me feel like super mom to get her to eat all those hidden veggies without a fight.

  11. ann

    (No kids yet…) but I’d imagine that dieting and feeding a toddler have some of the same challenges. I borrow some stragies from Rachel Ray, who encourages when bringing groceries home, to go ahead and wash and prepare them. I do that and bag them into portion sizes and throw them in a drawer in the fridge. I also look for low fat string cheese (he would like those and not choke, right?). Maybe you could do peanut butter crakers and throw them in a tupperware container so they’re ready to go?

    Also, I like to make a BIG lasagna (with lots of veggies hidden so my hubby can’t find them), eat on it for two days, then portion off and freeze the rest. If I have a crazy long day or just don’t feel like cooking, I pop out a couple of those servings – then we’re not eating Wendy’s or expanding our waist lines. Win-win-win, as Michael Scott would say.

    Yesterday I did turkey chili in the crockpot and got some sort of award for cooking when the DH got home; when all I did was brown some ground turkey and open cans. 🙂

  12. We give our sixteen month old Halloween candy, fries and a 32-ounce coke. Kidding. 😉

    I love reading everyone else’s comments, and am intrigued about the freeze-dried fruit… our son has no molars so I’ve stayed away from dried fruit because it seems too chewy. Are they a particular brand? We give him peanut butter on untoasted bread (just one slice folded over), fruit cups (packed in water or juice, no syrups), goldfish, pretzels (amen), grapes cut in half or quarters, milk (I buy it if I’m out, water if none’s available). I recently tried those cereal bars for tots, but they are SO STICKY. I would do apple slices but he is so slow at eating them (no molars) that they don’t always pay off. Applesauce cups are awesome, though, too. Oh, and over the summer he looooved cherry tomatoes from our back yard, store-bought is an option.

    I echo those who say not to worry about it too much. If Ez has a particularly goldfish-heavy snack day (I like Annie’s) I give him his veggies/protein first at dinner. His food is a little repetetive, but that’s ok, as long as he’s getting all of his food groups over the course of a day (rather than at every single meal). He gets a banana every single day, and inhales the 2% greek yogurts we have (he’d get whole, but the taste is different and he doesn’t like it). I stay faaar away from sugar, and processed food (for him, I still love my Diet Cokes…) and then let the rest of the chips fall where they may.

  13. I have the same problem too! It seems like fruits and veggies on the go is so difficult/messy/a pain in the ass. So recently I discovered these dried fruit crisp things at Costco (In case that link didnt work they are called Brothers All Natural Fruit Crisps and you can buy them at amazon too. They are sort of pricey but they are 100% fruit without the mess and my 12 month old loves them!

  14. First of all definitely invest on some tiny plastic containers to keep in the diaper bag. They keep soft snacks from getting squished. Both of my kids are picky eaters, but here are few snacks that they both love. 1)Applesauce pouches (from Trader Joes or Costco), they are these packets of applesauce that you squeeze directly into your mouth (no spoon or open contianers). Pretty mess free and no added sugar. 2) Kids Cliff Bars, vegan and organic, they have tons of fiber, protein and iron, but my kids think they are candy bars. 3) Dried fruit, if you have a Trader Joes nearby, they have just about any type of dried fruit you can think of. My son loves the mango and strawberries. It’s sweet and mostly mess free, and keeps for a while in your bag if you forget to clean it out for a few weeks 🙂

  15. You know I don’t want to suggest that in any way I have this figured out, because my 20 mo old eats a lot of… umm.. not so healthy things too. BUT here’s two things that she likes that work for us. First, drinkable yogurt. You can buy yo baby drinkable yogurt or make your own! Take a package of yo baby and dump it into a straw cup, then add about 2-3 oz of milk and mix it up. Portable yogurt! Second, my grocery store has applesauce and other fruits in squeezy pouches. Those are a big hit too. Finally, I try to sneak shredded vegetables into things like meatloaf or meatballs or pasta. That kind of works. 🙂

  16. Elizabeth

    Here are a few quick ideas…Fried rice is a great way to get tons of healthy food in kids and it’s on the table in less than 15 minutes! Also, you can use up your leftovers this way. I can’t say how portable it is, but it is tasty cold too. I make a ton of rice and then saute veggies, tofu (or chicken or shrimp), egg with a little soy sauce and honey mixture. Add cooked rice and combine.

    Another quick suggestion is the crockpot. My absolute favorite recipe given to me these days is beef sandwiches in the crock pot. a 2-3 lb beef roast, 1 pkg onion soup mix, 1 jar banana peppers with the juice, 1 beer, combine all ingredients in a large crockpot and cook all day on low. Serve on toasted hoagie rolls with melted provolone cheese.

    As for encouraging the veggies, I would say my son got crazy over tomatoes when we had a cherry tomato plant in our garden this summer. Maybe get Bean started with a little tomato plant that becomes part of his day? Also, my son will eat absolutely anything with a dip on it. We do guacamole and hummus a lot, but I’m not above a dip of ranch dressing every now and then!

    Also, Trader Joe’s turkey meatballs are really great, too!

  17. For snacks, apple slices, grapes, dried fruit, cheese sticks, crackers. My favorite super quick dinner is quesadillas. I used canned vegetarian refried beans, mix in some tomato paste and taco seasoning and them cook that with cheese in a tortilla. The kids dip them in sour cream and/or salsa and I serve a side of apple slices or corn (either frozen or from a can). It’s not kale and tofu but it’s super quick, made out of stuff we almost always have on hand and the kids love it.

  18. Lindsey

    Raisins and grapes are a must…

    At Costco (I hope you have a Costco nearby!) they sell Organic Animal Crackers which are seriously DELICIOUS. I’m a junk food person but I don’t feed my 18 month old junk. So she has these in place of cookies. Also, Costco sells “Crisps” – a box of several serving size packages of freeze dried fruit and these are SO YUMMY too. Really easy, really portable, really healthy, and SERIOUSLY good!!
    As for vegetables, I buy frozen peas, heat them in some water in the microwave for about 20 seconds or run them under hot water for a minute-ish – these are great to snack on – but maybe not in the car? Baby Carrots are another good one.
    At Wal Mart, they sell organic cereal bars made by Earth’s Best for toddlers in the baby snack section. The only reason I buy these and not Nutri Grain bars is because these don’t have trans fats in them.
    Sorry this was so jumbled – hopefully it helps!

  19. Lindsey

    And PS – I think it’s SO important to feed your kids healthy snacks – don’t let anyone tell you it’s “no big deal”. However, that doesn’t mean you should feel guilty for anything you’ve fed him. You are INSANELY busy and adjusting to a ton of new changes. I think you are a great mother for asking this question – you know you could do better, we all can. 🙂 Did that come out right?? haha.

  20. Donna

    I feed mine, whole wheat crackers with some pb, string cheese, fruit cups, and bananas.

  21. courtney

    Bananas, apple slices (you can buy them prepackaged), tangerines, grapes (halved), and string cheese. I also buy whole grain cereals and crackers (watch the sugar content). The main thing is to read labels. Some things that seem healthy aren’t so great, while others like goldfish aren’t as bad as you might think. If you’re looking at the ingredients list look for things like partially or fully hydrogenated oil, processed flour, sugar at the beginning of the list, high fructose corn syrup, and dies and preservatives. I also try to do as much snack/food prep on the weekends so that when we’re running out the door in the mornings or when I’m exhausted in the evenings it’s less work. I try to cook healthy well balanced meals three nights a week. I use frozen vegetables because they’re quick and easy, and I bake fish a lot because there is not much to it. I know fish is limited while you’re pregnant. If he eats good then I let him have a treat each night. That way I’m not depriving him of sweets, etc.
    And now let’s ignore the fact that I just ate 4 nutter butters with my lunch. My son will never know . . .

  22. Snacks I use with Henry (besides goldfish and other ‘normal’ snacks):
    -Graham crackers with a little bit of peanut butter (all natural kind)- put some raisins on top
    -Celery with peanut butter and raisins (ants on a log)
    -Yogurt covered raisins (a treat but still somewhat healthy)
    -Granola Bars (low sugar ones) and chewy- not the best but better than others
    -Cereal Bars- loaded with vitamins and taste good- great on the go snack
    -Sliced fruit- grapes, kiwi, banana, strawberries
    -Veggies- cucumbers (I slice them long ways so they are like a carrot stick- Henry eats them quite often and LIKES them- still can’t believe this)
    -Carrots (sometimes, hit or miss)
    -For lunch and meals: hot dogs, veggies (frozen and I just put in a bowl and throw in the microwave with water- and one minute later fresh veggies), a fruit and then I do not do a cracker or anything because he gets that during his snacks
    -Sliced pears
    -Fruit pops- they have these at our grocery store- it’s called something fruit but it’s like a simple popsicle but only fruit purred in it- it’s GREAT! They have a pineapple, banana flavor (i.e. won’t stain your sofa) and Henry thinks it’s his treat after dinner.

    I think that’s it! Good luck- I struggle too because processed is SO MUCH EASIER. We eat frozen waffles for bfast- Henry just made this his new love! 🙂 GOOD LUCK!

  23. Cindy In Owensboro, KY

    First of all I am a dietitian but I am not a pediatric dietitian so I use that as an excuse– plus I am 40 years old and use that as an excuse for why I am too tired to make “healthy” snacks. But some things that I feed my 2 year old little girl are: mandarin oranges, cantaloupe, apples and pears cut up, goldfish crackers, cereal or cereal bars, 100% fruit(not really) snacks, peanut butter and nutella mixed together (she loved this for awhile & didn’t even care if about the crackers), I have also tried fresh veggies but usually she spits them back at me and just wants to eat the ranch dip, I have also let her have peanuts and almonds and popcorn (eventhough your not suppose to d/t choking hazard) but she chews them very well.

  24. Joe

    How about carrots, broccoli, and/or sweet peppers* with hummus?
    *look for organic sweet peppers since your average pepper is drenched in pesticides

  25. I’m big on fruit bars and packages of freeze dried fruit. My daughter loves them and they’re very portable

  26. brooke

    My 15 month old loves saltines with peanut butter in between. Sometimes I will sneak in a raisin or two in there also.

  27. My kiddo is about 14 months. He doesn’t eat a ton of snacks on the go, but when we do these are the ones we use a lot: Earth’s Best Snack Bars, toast (his favorite), bananas if I’m in the mood for cleaning up, smoothies in a straw cup. He also still loves MumMums, and won’t say no to any kind of berry. Those just make a mess.

  28. I have never thought that fruits and veggies were a pain. I find them easy, and some travel quite well and aren’t super messy. I have actually had an easier time with large pieces of apple, than cutting up apple into slices or bits. Then they only bite off what they can chew wherease slices are easier to bite too big and choke on. I don’t feel bad about crackers too much, and cheese chunks or string cheese is good too. I like the drinkable yogurt tip. And then there’s always dried cereal. Lunch meat? tortilla? toast? All easy stuff. Oh, and for carrots, I like to cut mine into coins sometimes. Kids like that change from the baby carrots.

    I would, however, recommend being careful about dried fruits (raisins too) that are sticky, and other sticky stuff like fruit snacks and granola bars. Those things are ok, but not great on a frequent basis due to their wonderful ability to promote tooth decay. I have 2 kids with tons of cavities because that’s what we used for potty training treats.

  29. Claudia

    I don’t have any children, but I often baby sit for my nephew. He is just about 1 month older than Bean Man. He LOVES yogurt bites. They are tiny yogurt melts (about the size of a raisin) in strawberry flavor. They are completely organic and natural, but Gerber sells them too. My sister in law gets them at trader joe’s or a whole foods store. The kid also loves peas and the Gerber graduates crunchies. He loves dried cranberries too (which my sister in law cuts into fourths for him). For a drink, she gets her favorite V8 juice that she can enjoy as well but dilutes it a bit for the little dude.

  30. Kate

    Be careful with the dried fruit–they contain lots of sugar! Fresh, frozen, or canned fruit is better. If he can manage them I would say try to get him to eat as many veggies as possible, most adults don’t eat enough so if you could get him in the habit while he’s young that would be fabulous!

  31. Raisins! Dried fruit has lots of sugar, true…but raisins are hard to beat. If Bean will eat nuts you can do a trail mix with raisins nuts and, if you are feeling too healthy, mini chocolate chips…good for pregnant ladies too!

  32. Shelley

    Fresh fruit is the best. Bananas & apples are easly to trasnsport, Little tubs of fruit salad, cheese sticks, wholemeal crackers. Take a few drinks with you (maybe freeze the water bottles before you go out)

  33. jen morris

    We do frozen blueberries, frozen grapes, carrots, celery, go gurt (you can freeze these!). Target sells these fruit bar things that are pretty tasty. But I find that I have my fair share of fruit snacks, gold fish, cheese crackers, etc. It tough to find the balance!

  34. Jennifer

    Smoothies! Bannana in a smoothie hides the spinach I put in it. It may look gross but my little guy sucks them down for breakfast. Yougurt, milk frozen fruit and frozen chopped spinach, blend for a minute or so and pour.

  35. My kids LOVE applesauce pouches! They are a little pouch (perfect for small hands to hold) with a little cap that you can put back on if they don’t finish, and they can just suck the applesauce right out. They come in TONS of different flavors and you can buy them just about anywhere – Publix, Whole Foods, Trader Joe’s, Costco, and Target (!) are a few of the places we’ve bought them. At Trader Joe’s they even have some with carrot in them, so they’re getting a veggie too. They are absolutely perfect for snacking in the car, stroller, etc, and you can just toss a couple in your purse or diaper bag to have when you need one. My boys also love the freeze-dried fruit from Trader Joe’s. It’s light & crispy – almost melts in their mouths (not chewy or crunchy like some). They love the banana & mango.

  36. Dude. We are in the same boat with Porter. AND Porter is super picky these days. Your readers have some great suggestions!

  37. While I don’t have a little one yet, it is still in the oven baking. For myself good portable snacks (when I wasn’t up for cooking) would be those little packs of prepared fruits, applesauce, string cheese, crackers and cheese, bananas, apples, peanut butter on crackers, easy stuff that doesn’t take a lot of work.

  38. Clare

    Be careful with raisins/sultanas, they are VERY high in sugar (albeit natural sugar) but they are also really sticky and stick to their teeth, so unless you can brush those little pearly whites straight away, you’ve got acid attacking those teeth where the fruit is stuck to it.
    My little one loves carrot sticks with dips, and pitta bread too.

  39. Hey momma!!
    yes cooking and working and being preggers not the best combo!! been there, done that!!
    since he is the age bean is you can start introducing nuts? so there is trail mix, you can do cut up lunch meat and cheese, whole wheat crackers if he is not picky! Hummus and cut up veggies and crackers I have a great easy recipie! My kids love!!
    another thing we do when we have a busy week, is one night one the weekend when the wee ones are in bed, i make up about 8-12 breakfast burritos! so easy and so yummy let them cool and wrap individually in plastic wrap and freeze(will freeze for like 6m) and then just nuk them in the morning.
    My kids are huge fans of oatmeal, they love eating dry cereal and bananas. And there most favorite snack, is dried fruits,cheese,triscuits and nutrigrain bars.
    Hope it helps!!!

    hummas(put all ingredients in food processor)
    2 cans garbonzo beans-drained and rinsed
    3 large roasted red peppers
    2-3 cloves of garlic
    2tbls olive oil
    salt to taste
    mix up until smooth and creamy-may need to add more oil or h2o. seal and will keep in fridge for a week if organic or 2 weeks if not!!

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