When you’re a kid, part of what makes summer fun is getting to enjoy some special snacks. You know, ice pops on a hot day or s’mores by a campfire. Even something simple like a slice of sweet watermelon is more special when eaten outside in the summer. Adults can partake in seasonal snacks too! Of course, nobody wants extra work in the kitchen this time of year. Luckily, there are some warm-weather favorites that don’t take much time or effort to prepare. But first, let’s discuss some benefits of homemade summer snacks:
- Cost. Making some of your snacks instead of purchasing pre-made and packaged versions will likely save you money. For example, I find that making my own frozen fruit pops is substantially cheaper than the store-bought fruit pops. This is especially true when you use in-season fruit and it’s also a way to use up fresh fruit before it goes bad. With this being said, if convenience is worth the added expense to you, be sure to look for Guiding Stars to point you toward more nutritious options.
- You control what goes into the foods you prepare. If you have a child with specific dietary needs, such as needing gluten-free, dairy-free, or peanut-free foods, you can be certain that those ingredients are not present. You also get to control the quality of the ingredients in snacks you make at home.
- It’s a great activity for kids. Most children like to cook and summertime can be an ideal time to help them acquire new, age-appropriate cooking skills.
- Your kids get to personalize them. Aside from being fun, when kids take part in preparing food, they are also more likely to actually eat it. When possible, give kids a couple of options for customizing their snacks.
Making fruit snacks is an obvious choice because of all the great fruit around this time of year. Need a little guidance on how to use more fruit and less sugar in your baked treats? Here are some tips from a previous post. Check out some our favorite ideas that are kid-approved and healthy, too:
- If rolled dried fruit strips are a favorite at your house, consider making your own Fruit Leather. It’s mostly a hands-off recipe. It dries in the oven for a while, so make it when you’re going to be home for a while. Maybe a rainy day? Also, you can be creative and use whatever fruit you have on hand. And finally, it has no added sugar or extra ingredients. It earns 3 Guiding Stars for best nutrition!
- You can’t deny that fruit kebabs are more fun than eating cut up fruit served on a plate or in a bowl. Let the kids help assemble these Fresh Fruit Kebabs (if they are old enough to handle skewers safely) and stir together the lemon-lime dip that goes with them.
Who can resist a frozen treat on a stick when it’s hot and sticky outside? Or an ice cream cone? We’ve got you covered; check out these ideas:
- Ice pops and pudding pops are perennial favorites. Pina Colada Pudding Pops (no alcohol of course) are quick, easy, and perfect for a tropical themed party or movie night. And if you’ve got some bananas hanging around, get the kids involved in helping prepare Frozen Banana Pops. This version is coated in yogurt then rolled in toppings—chopped nuts, toasted coconut, or some sprinkles to jazz them up—you choose). You can also use leftover morning smoothie mixture to make fruity ice pops—no recipe needed and no waste! Here are a couple smoothie recipes to try if you need some inspo: Blueberry Cocoa Smoothie (yum!), Banana-Berry Smoothie (with a little tofu in it that nobody will notice), and Orange Smoothie (uses just 4 ingredients—including a whole orange).
- Are the kids craving ice cream or ice cream sandwiches? These recipes should conquer that craving in no time: Peach Ice Cream or Dark Chocolate Dairy-Free Ice Cream. Making homemade ice cream sandwiches is easy using these ice creams and sandwiching a scoop between graham crackers, then individually wrapping them and refreezing. Is Italian Ice or shaved ice more their style? This Blueberry Sorbet has a similar texture to shaved ice and is so refreshing (prepare to see blue tongues).
Bars and bumps
Granola bars are a year-round snack for many kids. Yet, in the summer, there tends to be pressure to make these lunchbox staples more fun. Hence, your choice of packaged bars might nudge a little further into the dessert-range than it usually does. I get it, really! However, if you’re going to go that route, you will likely save money and get a more wholesome treat if you make it yourself. The best part? Lots of bars are no-bake. Know what’s also good? Clean little hands are good at helping mix up ingredients and press bars into the pan. They can use sandwich baggies as “gloves” or have them press bars in while a piece of parchment or wax paper is on top of the mixture. Here are two favorite Guiding Stars earning choices:
- These Homemade Snack Bars taste like a mash-up of crispy cereal treats and granola bars. In other words, delicious. Double the recipe for a full 13”x9” pan of these favorites, and feel free to cut them smaller for your littles.
- Ok, these aren’t bar-shaped, but they are in the same category of energy-type snacks. These Oatmeal Peanut Butter Bumps are an all-time favorite recipe at Guiding Stars that kids can help make (and eat, of course).
Making all of your snacks at home this summer is not realistic for most of us and that’s more than ok. When you purchase packaged snacks, make sure to look for Guiding Stars icons on price tags, store brand packaging, and when shopping online. Shopping with the stars will help you quickly and easily select a nutritious option that meets your family’s needs so you can get back to enjoying summer!