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Kid-friendly, healthy snacks can often seem limited and boring.
Both kids and adults generally need more protein and fiber, and fewer added sugars in their daily diet. These smart snacks are flavorful, full of nutrients and easy to prepare. And when kids can help prepare their food, it’s a big plus for long-term healthy eating habits.
Keep instant oats on hand — they're quick to make and filling.
4-Pack Quaker Oats Organic 1-Minute Oatmeal (24-ounce bags), $11 (usually $14), Amazon
Peanut Butter and Banana Bites
Slice a banana lengthwise and spread one half with peanut butter. Top with the other half and cut into one-inch pieces. Eat at room temperature or freeze into a frozen treat for a tasty boost of protein and fiber.
Jif Peanut Butter (16-ounce jar), $8, Amazon
Turkey and Fruit Roll-Up
Take a slice of deli turkey, spread with a thin layer of honey mustard and wrap it around a slice of pear or apple. It's an unusual way to add daily protein.
Make-Your-Own Trail Mix
Mix a combination of one from each “group” using a handful as a serving size (about one ounce or a quarter of a cup):
- low-sugar, whole-grain cereal (like Cheerios or Fiber One)
- dried fruit (raisins, Craisins or chopped apricots)
- chopped nuts or seeds (almonds, walnuts, sunflower)
- a “treat” add-in (mini-chocolate chips, M&M's, Reese’s Pieces, butterscotch morsels or yogurt-covered raisins)
It's a healthy boost of fiber and protein.
Cheerios (20-ounce box), $4, Amazon
Fiber One (16-ounce box), $11, Amazon
Blue Diamond Almonds (14-ounce bag), $7, Walmart
Diamond of California Walnuts (16-ounce bag), $7, Walmart
Party Size M&M's (42-ounce bag), $9, Walmart
3-Pack Reese's Pieces (10-ounce bags), $18, Walmart
Dip-and-Eat Fruit and Yogurt
Slice up an apple, pear or banana, and add a small dish of plain or vanilla Greek yogurt for dipping.
A great boost of protein, fiber and calcium with a fun twist.
Bagged, microwaved or stove-popped: Look for reduced-fat varieties or air-pop your own. Add your own seasonings to taste. It's an easy way to increase your fiber intake — nearly four grams per serving.
Orville Redenbacher's Gourmet Popping Corn (5 pounds), $16, Amazon
Cheese and Fruit
Single-serving cheese now comes in a variety of sticks, chunks and ultra-thin slices. Whether whole-milk or reduced-fat versions, both give the same protein and calcium boost. Double up the nutrients by pairing the cheese with a fresh fruit of your choice to add fiber.
Keep a half dozen peeled and ready to eat in the fridge for a boost of protein and iron. Or mash one up with a spoonful of reduced-fat mayonnaise for a creamy dip for raw vegetables or whole-grain crackers.
And any snack can provide added protein and calcium when paired with a glass of reduced-fat or nonfat milk. Not a dairy drinker? Try soy milk for an equivalent protein boost.
Madelyn Fernstrom, Ph.D., is NBC News Health and Nutrition Editor. Follow her on Twitter @drfernstrom.