Snacking is important for children since their smaller stomachs fill up fast and they burn energy quickly. Snacks between meals give their growing bodies the needed nutrients and hydration.
According to studies, snacks contribute more than 20% of the daily energy intake of children. When younger, children need a snack in the mornings and the afternoon. Older school-age children can have a larger snack after school.
As a rule, the best option is a vegetable or fruit as the main snack item alongside some whole grain, milk, or protein option.
Yet, do your kids like fruits and vegetables?
To be frank, all the kids I know would rather have a chocolate bar or some tasty cereals instead of these healthy produce, but I also believe the form is as important as the meaning at times, and this case is not an exception.
If you prepare the healthy snacks of your little ones in the form of cute and funny bugs, I bet they will always ask for more!
Here is how to prepare vegan, gluten-free, and sodium-low bug snacks for them:
- ½ cup Vegan cream cheese
- 10 cucumber slices
- 2-3 Celery stalks, cut into various lengths
- 1-2 mini cucumbers, halved lengthwise, cut into various lengths
- 5-7 black olives
- 10 whole cashews
- 1 cup cherry and/or grape tomatoes
- 1 bunch chives, cut into 1” lengths
- 3-4 strawberries, sliced
- ½ cup blueberries
- 2-3 celery stalks, cut into various lengths
- ½ cup peanut butter
- 1 cup red and/or green grapes
- 1 apple, sliced
- ½ cup Envirokidz Leapin’ Lemurs cereal
- ¼ cups mini dairy-free chocolate chips
1. Prepare the googly eyes for the fruit and vegetable bugs.
- Vegetable bugs:
-- Use a straw to cut out black olive pupils. You can also chop black olives into small pieces and use them for the pupils instead. Pipe small dots of cream cheese onto a plate and top with black olive pupils. After assembling the eyes, leave them in the freezer to chill.
- Fruit bugs:
-- Pipe small dots of cream cheese onto a plate. Put mini dairy-free chocolate chips on the top.
-- “Glue” mini chocolate chips to the Envirokidz cereal with peanut butter or cream cheese.
-- After assembling the eyes, leave them into the freezer to chill.
2. Prepare fruit and vegetables
Use the photos for a visual guide to see how to prepare the ingredients.
3. Scoop seeds from mini cucumbers. Slice a flat edge on the bottoms of mini cucumbers and celery sticks to make the bugs stand upright.
4. Vegetable bugs. Using a spoon or a piping bag, fill the celery stalks and/or mini cucumbers with cream cheese.
5. Fruit bugs: Using a spoon or a piping bag, fill the celery stalks with peanut butter. These will be the base of all the fruit and vegetable bugs.
6. Unleash your imagination, get creative, and create your own bug kingdom!
Here are some interesting suggestions:
- Snails: Use a fruit or vegetable round for the shell, stick the chilled googly eyes onto the tomato, cashew, or grape “heads”, and add chives or thin-sliced apples as antennae.
- Caterpillars: Make the body of the caterpillar with a line of cherry tomatoes, grapes, blueberries, or Envirokidz cereal. Stick chilled googly eyes onto cherry tomato or grape “heads”, and insert chive or apple antennae.
- Dragonflies and butterflies: Stick the chilled googly eyes onto grape or tomato “heads”. Make the antennae with apples or chives, and use sliced strawberries or halved cucumber slices for wings. Make the body with Envirokidz cereal, blueberries, grapes, or cherry tomatoes.
Now, more than ever, parents are looking for healthy snacks for their children. Yet, the plain truth is that it is not easy to get them to like fruits and veggies, no matter how hard to try to stir them in the health direction from a very young age.
One of the most successful ways to get them eating the right foods is by making the entire process fun, and these little healthy critters are the way to go!