These simple healthy snacks will satisfy even picky eaters. Fill little bellies, not garbage bags!
1. A piece of fruit
You may have hoped for more elaborate ideas on this list of zero-waste snacks for kids but hear me out. A piece of fruit tastes delicious. It is healthy. It grows its own packaging.
Snacks and meals need not look like winning contenders for a high-pressure reality TV cooking show. Feeding your kids fruit as a snack simplifies your life. When they are hungry, you hand them some grapes or an apricot or an apple—or if you’re Type A, apple slices.
2. Vegetables and hummus
If you have started down the zero-waste rabbit hole, I bet you have increased your hummus intake. Homemade hummus tastes delicious and eliminates gazillions of plastic tubs generated by the store-bought stuff.
Soak some chickpeas, cook them in a pot, a slow cooker or a pressure cooker and quickly transform them—along with a handful of other ingredients—into hummus in a food processor or blender. Sneak more vegetables into your child’s diet with the addition of puréed pumpkin or beets.
3. Sourdough crackers
These also go well with hummus. Or any dip. Or on their own. To make these, you will need to start and nurture a sourdough starter. Learn how to do that here. When you feed the starter, you accumulate inactive starter that cannot make bread rise. But it makes amazing crackers.
4. Roasted chickpeas
Addictive? Yes. Healthy? Also yes.
Chickpeas and hummus are an easy means to help consumers meet the recommended 1.5 cups of legumes per week… Consuming chickpeas and/or hummus may help prevent or offset the development and progression of several chronic diseases (CVD, type-2 diabetes, etc.).” — The National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI)
5. Soft pretzels
My daughter Charlotte first made these crusty-on-the-outside-soft-on-the-inside pretzels in elementary school. Young bakers love to make them on their own, smaller children love to help making them and everyone loves to eat them.
6. Granola bars
Charlotte made these also. Adjust them to your snackers’ preferences. Add cranberries, omit the chocolate chips—or keep them—toss in a bit of dried coconut or leftover pulp from making coconut milk, change up the nut butter…
Or just snack on granola itself. Top it with fruit and yogurt if desired. I make so many combinations of this, depending on what ingredients I find in my pantry, that it would make a great math problem. Lately, I’ve been adding heaping amounts of okara (soy bean pulp) left over from homemade tofu.
8. Roasted pumpkin seeds
One of the great treats of Halloween! These also turn out well with winter squash seeds. To make these, remove as many pumpkin (or squash) chunks as you can from the seeds. Toss the seeds in olive oil to coat, along with salt and if using, spices (cayenne, cumin or herbes de provence, etc.). Spread in a single layer on a cookie sheet or glass tray. Roast at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for 20 or 30 minutes, stirring every 10 minutes until golden and crunchy.
9. Stove-top popcorn
My personal favorite zero-waste snack—and also one of the simplest. Into a medium-size saucepan, add 1 teaspoon of salt (or to taste), 1/2 cup popcorn kernels and two tablespoons coconut oil or olive oil or a combo of the two. Put the lid on the pot, turn the burner to high heat and shake the pot continuously. Once the kernels begin to pop, they will pop quickly, in about a minute.
10. Dehydrated produce
We have a solar food dryer at the intentional community where I live in Northern California because of course we do. I’ve used it to make kale chips, sundried tomatoes, dried apple rings and more. The simple design works so well and can reach temperatures around 225 degrees Fahrenheit. Perfect on a day like today! I haven’t made any of these in an oven but you certainly could.