Plant-Based Kid-Friendly Snacks You Can Whip Up From Your Pantry
The pantry can be a parent’s best friend when it comes to feeding hungry kids. To help other families looking for easy, kid-friendly snacks they can make with ingredients they’ve already got at home, we asked some of our own team members with young kids to share their secrets. Read on for tips about how to whip up simple plant-based eats to fill hungry bellies.
Ashley’s Secret Weapons: From-Scratch Nacho Cheese, Hummus and Rice Cakes
Providing healthy, balanced meals for my hungry, 6-foot-6-inch tall husband and three children has definitely been more challenging than normal during COVID-19, given how seldom we brave the grocery store madness these days.
Dinner has been the easiest meal to prepare without a lot of fresh produce, as we typically eat warm grain, bean and veggie dishes. But breakfast and lunch can challenge my creativity when the fridge is sparse. Making smoothies every day has been one way to help my kids get their fruits in – I just throw a couple of frozen bananas into the blender with some ice cubes, raw walnuts and flax seeds, frozen berries and nut milk, and it’s the most delicious late afternoon treat. Our family also loves mandarin oranges for our vitamin C — especially because they can last for months in the fridge!
Yesterday I made one of our go-to crowd pleasers — this yummy hummus — and served it with a platter of sliced veggie we have handy and crackers. We love the sweet, crunchy textures, colors and flavors. When we’re running low on vegetables, some of my go-to snacks are rice cakes with nut butter (and optional jelly), seaweed snacks, and noodles topped with olive oil, Braggs Liquid Aminos and nutritional yeast.
But my kids’ favorite snack is this nacho cheese sauce. It is so versatile and tasty, you can’t go wrong! I served it with tortilla chips as a dip, drizzled over warm beans and rice, as well as over some warm broccoli I had thawed from the freezer. Every time it was a win. My 4-year-old even said, “this cheese is better than Christmas, chocolate and Curious George!” True story.
Julie Gives the Scoop: Pancakes, Popcorn and Pasta
I’m pregnant, quarantined at home with my 4-year-old son and our German shepherd — all while my husband is deployed overseas. Yes it’s challenging, but our family chooses to focus on the positive. One of the many activities we enjoy together is cooking and snacking on what we have in the pantry. It’s not only fun, but also a great opportunity to teach my son about reducing waste and using only what we need.
To start the day, I usually grab a simple breakfast for my little man — oatmeal, fruit, whatever is on-hand. When I have some extra time, I reach for pancake mix and add in almond milk, vanilla extract, blueberries, strawberries and cinnamon. It brings a certain joy in the morning, creating our meal together. He’s always happy to eat pancakes!
Our go-to snack is air-popped popcorn over the stove. I prefer making it the old-fashioned way — it’s a fun activity and creates memories waiting for the little kernels to pop. When we make it this way, I’m also able to control the type of oil and how much we use, and we get to add special toppings. Our favorite version? Popping the corn in coconut oil, then tossing it with sea salt and vegan butter spray.
When it’s time for dinner, I make his favorite — pasta and sauce. He loves spaghetti noodles and tomato-basil marinara. The best part? It lasts in the refrigerator for a few days for an easy lunch or dinner later in the week. I also cook up some zucchini pieces to top the pasta to get some greens in. If your kids will try it, go for it. I’m still working on that part!