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Healthy School Snacks for 30 Preschoolers

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Valentine529 Sep 4, 2013 10:02 PM

Hi Chowhounders!

I need your help in a major way! My 4 year old daughter starts her firsr day of school tomorrow. I learned tonight at the first parents' meeting that we as parents are responsible for bringing in a healthy snack for 30 kids once a month. We are supposed to bring something that does not contain peanuts or peanut butter due to the high incidence of peanut allergies. Also, sugary snacks are not encohraged. We are also supposed to bring a complimentary beverage for all 30 of the kids, either water, milk, or 100% juice. Given these instructions and this scenario, what would you bring in?

Thanks so much for your suggestions!

  1. p
    PotatoPuff Sep 18, 2013 10:09 AM

    Some steamed, shelled edamame would be nice. If there are freezers available, I would bring a healthy, fruit based popsicle. Also, someone mentioned something on skewers, it might be preferable to use less-pointy popsicle sticks. Four-year olds tend to be accident prone.

    1. k
      Kat Sep 18, 2013 08:05 AM

      School snacks, ugh, bane of my existence trying to come up with a healthy rotation of snacks. No fridge in the classroom, so I usually stick with mini pretzels, popcorn, quartered oranges, grapes (when they're on sale), small apples and always water, no juice allowed.

      1. m
        masha Sep 18, 2013 07:44 AM

        Fruit compote: use applesauce for the base, add in pieces of whole fruit (fresh or canned, like apples, peaches, pear), season with cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger and a bit of lemon juice, and bake in a low oven (about 275) for about 1-2 hours to let the flavors meld. Can be reheated at school if there is a microwave, or eaten at room temperature.

        1. a
          Ama658 Sep 18, 2013 05:14 AM

          Did they give any suggestions? Also, does it need to be able to stay at room temperature or can it be something that requires a freezer/microwave/refrigeration?

          When I was teaching preschool, popcorn was always a favourite. The kids went wild for the stuff.

          Mini pizzas on english muffins--my students would eat that sort of thing cold in their lunch boxes.

          Chex mix/trail mix (no nuts necessary!)

          Can you use almond butter or sunflower seed butter? Graham crackers with almond/sunflower seed butter--yum!
          Ants on a log could go with the almond butter as well.

          Cut up fruit in ziploc baggies. As the seasons change, your fruit can change! If you want to get creative, you can also "skewer" some fruit onto pretzel sticks--think bananas, strawberries, etc.Orange slices, although those tend to make sticky fingers...tables...clothes ;)

          Could you send 100% fruit Popsicles?

          Applesauce/fruit purees (no sugar added!) or 100% fruit "leathers"

          There are lots of veggie options--snap peas, carrots, celery, grape tomatoes, etc. Also in snack bags. Hummus or a dip can go into small paper cups if you're feeling ambitious.

          Watermelon sliced into wedges. Kids can use the rind to hold. Mmm...

          Yogurt (cups or tubes) with some granola if you want to fancy it up. Also could send some apple slices or similar to dip into yogurt.

          Make sandwiches and cut them out with little cookie cutters. Simple cheese-bread-meat or jam-cream cheese or almond butter. That makes it snack sized AND interestingly shaped. Win!

          Baked goods can be healthy. Check out some of the Healthy Mom Blogs ;) peasandthankyou has some good snack recipes. Think mini muffins or half-sized cookies. Also, savoury muffins would be easy and welcome.

          If you happen to know the 'theme' of the week, you can also use that for ideas. If the color of the week is red, send strawberries! If it's oceans, send goldfish. For bug week, use pipe-cleaners and make your snack bags into butterflies. Around thanksgiving, send in pumpkin muffins or turkey sandwiches. Or mix dried cranberries into your popcorn.

          I would stick with water for drinks. As a teacher, that's what I WANTED parents to send in, even though I allowed juice boxes and such.
          Finally, remember that you will never be able to please all the kids (or parents!). Do what you can that won't stress you out. Yay for preschool :)

          1. s
            schrutefarms Sep 17, 2013 10:31 PM

            Take a few whole wheat tortillas, spread with cream cheese, and layer in some baby spinach, pico di gallo and chopped or shredded chicken...roll, chill, slice and serve! You can make them the night before. You could also do ones with cream cheese, hummus, sun dried tomatoes and spinach, in case there are kids who don't eat meat. Takes no time. Sliced apples with a greek yogurt/honey dip is good too!

            1. j
              JudiAU Sep 7, 2013 07:48 PM

              First, gift the school 2 or 3 of these. http://www.forsmallhands.com/glass-pi... Then pick up some some juice glasses from Smart and Final or a restaurant supply store.

              A preschooler should be pouring their own water and there is no reason to serve anything but water.

              And there should be no trash waste at the end of the meal. No single serving, etc.

              Second, many of the suggested snacks have too much sugar and empty calories for a snack. Preschoolers do not need a meal at snack time and they don't need a treat every day. There is no way standard muffins or a nutrigrain bar should qualify as an everyday snack for a preschooler

              Fresh fruit + protein + a small amount of carb

              whole milk yogurt parfaits with unsweetened yogurt
              fruit + almond or sunbutter and whole wheat pita
              fruit + tofu skewers with a little dipping sauce + crispy seaweed
              fruit + onigiri + miso soup
              fruit + cheese + crackers
              fruit + oatmeal
              etc.

              very healthy muffins such as variations on weelicious
              whole grain pancakes with fruit inside, no topping
              black bean dip + unsalted tortilla chips
              guacamole + unsalted tortilla chips

              5 Replies
              1. re: JudiAU
                chowser Sep 7, 2013 08:10 PM

                Fresh fruit=large amount of carbs, mostly simple

                why the need to add more?

                1. re: JudiAU
                  MidwesternerTT Sep 17, 2013 07:32 PM

                  I'm glad I grew up in the early 60's when kids (and Mom's) were allowed to just enjoy their food. And have snacks every day.

                  1. re: MidwesternerTT
                    chartreauxx Sep 19, 2013 07:21 AM

                    and when nobody was carb-counting for preschoolers.

                    1. re: chartreauxx
                      mcf Sep 19, 2013 08:13 AM

                      If we hadn't been feeding them like feedlot heifers on grains and restricted protein or fat for decades, we wouldn't have to do it now, either.

                      But look at the results. "Adult onset diabetes" transformed into a pediatric disease within a single generation.

                      We weren't going home to meals of pizza and pasta, protein and dairy were emphasized in the food groups.

                  2. re: JudiAU
                    mcf Sep 18, 2013 09:16 AM

                    "Fresh fruit + protein + a small amount of carb"

                    Fresh fruit is a carb, sugar mostly. Why the redundancy of adding another carby food?

                  3. Kajikit Sep 7, 2013 01:45 PM

                    String cheese and grapes. 'Juice' has more sugar in it than the baked goods they're discouraging. They can drink water.

                    1. t
                      Tam38 Sep 7, 2013 01:32 AM

                      Fruit salsa (really a small cut fruit salad with a bit of lemon juice and a few tbl of jam added for consistency) with cinnamon/sugar tortilla 'chips' (flour tortillas cut into triangles, dash of cinnamon/sugar, and baked until hard).

                      ants on a log (cream cheese or greek yogurt instead of peanut butter)

                      cheese sticks/whole grain crackers

                      natural applesauce

                      sesame or pumpkin seeds

                      1. greygarious Sep 5, 2013 10:34 AM

                        Nikki's Healthy Cookies is a recipe you can google. It's vegan (stay with me now - I'm NOT vegan!) but I add one egg to make them a bit sturdier. They are not overly sweet, and have enough protein that they really take the edge off hunger pangs.

                        Horn-tooting here: CHOW recipes contains mine for Healthy Hummingbird Muffins, which was one of 3 finalists in this site's contest. They can be made in mini-size - that's the way I usually do them.

                        If you are considering giving the kidlets juice, I recommend diluting it with water or club soda, by close to a half. It will still have flavor, but less sugar per servig.

                        1. c
                          cheesymama Sep 5, 2013 09:56 AM

                          Mini bagels and cream cheese, grapes, strawberries, mini bananas, carrots, celery sticks, mini pita and dip , cheese cubes, graham crackers. Banana bread or mini muffins, Paula Deen has an apple muffin recipe that isn't low in sugar but all of the kids I feed really like.
                          I too would stick with water for the beverage.

                          1. t
                            truman Sep 5, 2013 09:43 AM

                            Faux Chex mix - mix some Chex or Crispix, small pretzels, goldfish crackers, etc., hold the peanuts and seasonings.

                            A big tub of vanilla yogurt with granola (cereal) and berries (send a couple pints of blueberries, no slicing required)

                            No work required beyond purchasing:
                            Honey-wheat pretzels
                            Veggie Stix
                            Nutri-Grain bars
                            Cheese sticks or bars

                            My 3yo is a big fan of cereal as a snack... Life, Puffins, Kix, some of the flavored Cheerios...

                            1. pinehurst Sep 5, 2013 07:16 AM

                              Kid size bottles of water (right on Ttrockwood)
                              A tray of baby carrots and dip
                              I'm with tcamp on the string cheese!
                              A good yogurt with not a lot of added junk (vanilla works)
                              A little cold cut tray with rolled up ham, turkey, cheese
                              Little unsweetened applesauce containers

                              1. MidwesternerTT Sep 5, 2013 07:04 AM

                                Bring sugar-y snacks every time so you get dropped from the rotation? (just kidding, I think...)

                                Pear half (optionally with cottage cheese). Dip in lemon juice to keep cut side from browning.

                                Popcorn

                                Diploma sandwich- white bread, crust cut off, spread with softened cream cheese and rolled up.

                                Round cracker or party rye bread square, spread with cream cheese/ranch dressing mix, top with a cucumber slice.

                                Water served in cups, with shaped iced cubes.

                                Water from jug, chilled with fruit or cucumber slices to flavor the water.

                                1 Reply
                                1. re: MidwesternerTT
                                  LaLa Sep 5, 2013 09:44 AM

                                  Tortilla roll ups...like the diploma roll up above is good too.
                                  Goldfish crackers are a fave
                                  Animal crackers

                                2. Berheenia Sep 5, 2013 07:00 AM

                                  I made a nut free recipe from AllRecipes for mini toddler muffins. It was easy peasy and they were delicious. I made a dozen mini and six regular but you could double the recipe for 36 mini and still get 6 regular for adults. The sugar was minimal but just enough. I used a scant 1/2 cup of turbanado, not the packed half cup of dark brown sugar in the recipe and I used oatmeal in place of oat bran. They do pack a lot of fiber.

                                  http://allrecipes.com/Recipe/Toddler-...

                                  1. r
                                    rockycat Sep 5, 2013 05:34 AM

                                    When my kid was that age, parents also had to provide snack but it was for a whole week at a time. The school was smart. The classes had a pre-printed list of what was acceptable/desired and the teacher would send the sheet home with the requested items and their quantities checked off. It made things so much easier.

                                    But all the suggestions so far have been good - yogurt, cheese cubes, fresh fruit, crackers and jam, hummus, juice, etc.

                                    1. tcamp Sep 5, 2013 05:05 AM

                                      Finger foods that don't crumble all over the place. Grapes, string cheese, and water.

                                      1. chowser Sep 5, 2013 04:51 AM

                                        Make little frico cups and fill w/ chopped apple/pear/grape salad.

                                        Prosciutto parmesan grissini:

                                        http://rhubarbandhoney.com/2012/02/24...

                                        Black bean brownies (these are sweet but healthy enough for preschoolers)--there are different versions, some w/ flour, some gluten free

                                        If you don't want to cook, cut cheese shaped w/ tiny cookie cutters and serve on crackers or apple slices

                                        1. s
                                          sleepingypsy Sep 5, 2013 04:25 AM

                                          Frozen bananas! (Or 1/2 a frozen banana) on a popsicle stick... make mine organic. :-)

                                          1. chartreauxx Sep 4, 2013 11:00 PM

                                            would a non-peanut nut butter be acceptable? if so, you could do almond- or hazelnut-butter and jam/jelly sandwiches cut into appropriate sizes/cute shapes. otherwise, maybe fruit snacks, oatmeal-raisin cookies, pumpkin zucchini or banana bread, celery filled with cream cheese and raisins, yogurts, string cheese, homemade (non-peanut) cereal+raisin+nut(?)+M&M(sparing) snack mix (honey nut chex, multigrain cheerios, cashews, roasted salted almonds, dried cranberry, and white chocolate chips are popular), apple slices, mandarin/"cuties" oranges, bananas, cut/baby veg with dip (ranch, hummus, etc), or for the more adventurous set, japanese rice balls (onigiri) - may go over better if you use "cute" shape molds available on amazon. all the above have the benefit of being vegetarian, too, in case any kids/parents in your class adhere to a veggie lifestyle. good luck!

                                            1. boogiebaby Sep 4, 2013 10:55 PM

                                              Apple slices
                                              Pita bread/chips with hummus
                                              Baby carrots with ranch
                                              Fruit salad
                                              Mini bagels with cream cheese
                                              Cheese cubes and grapes (cut in half if too big)

                                              Our elementary discourages homemade snacks like muffins for class snacks/birthdays as there is no way to ensure there is no cross contamination. They prefer things like fruit or prepackaged items with a visible ingredient list. Luckily my kids are in the upper grades now and I don't have to send class snacks anymore, just their own!

                                              1. t
                                                Ttrockwood Sep 4, 2013 10:13 PM

                                                Mini water bottles for beverage- my personal feelings are that kids need to learn young to just. Drink. Water.

                                                Fruit and crackers or pretzels:
                                                I.e. cut bunches of grapes, mandarin oranges (easy to peel), bananas, plus graham crackers, mini pretzels, pita chips etc

                                                If it is still warm weather, all fruit juice popscicles

                                                String cheeses, trail mix of raisins, pretzels, choco chips, cereal.

                                                Make mini muffins (blueberry or something common)

                                                Aaaaaannnnnddddd- hope you're not first and see what other people bring and get feedback from your kid what snacks everyone liked :)

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