You can almost see it happening in real time. Your kids are playing, engaged with what they're doing, and then they're face first in their coloring book, snoring away. It's not a surprise. After all, they had a granola bar with chocolate chips and chips for a snack — this is just the inevitable sugar crash. Unfortunately, you also know that your child is going to wake up with a crabby attitude and so hangry that getting them to settle for dinner will be nearly impossible. Maybe next time, try these low-sugar snacks to pack in your kid's backpack to avoid this venture into parenting hell. Because it's not about being perfect and getting it right all the time — it's about doing better.
When it comes to packing snacks for our kids, I will be the first one to admit that I've stocked up on store-bought granola bars and squeeze pouches of fruit and called it good. This has come back to bite me more than once. That's why I asked Mary Ellen Phipps, MPH, RDN, LD, mom, and owner of Milk & Honey Nutrition, to advise me on low-sugar snacks to pack in your kid's backpack, because honestly, we could all use the help.
1Peanut Butter With Apples
This is an oldie but a goodie, and it's the first thing Phipps suggests. With good reason, the combined fat and protein from the peanut butter, and all that great fiber from the apples work together to sustain an easy level of energy without the dips and spikes associated with other snacks.
It's all a matter of the recipe you choose to use to make the muffins. Sure, some are just cupcakes without frosting (arguably my favorite), but some are rich, delicious, low-sugar snacks that are the perfect addition to any kid's afternoon. Phipps suggests these strawberry muffins, which not only are low-sugar and energy dense, they're also gorgeous and use up the last of summer's berries.
3Whole Milk Yogurt With Frozen Fruit
Don't get it twisted. This isn't calling for you to push your trolley up to the yogurt aisle and grab some (delicious) fruit-on-the-bottom yogurt and throw in a handful of berries. This is plain whole milk yogurt mixed with frozen berries, notes Phipps. Honestly, I just had some of this as my morning snack, because I eat like a toddler, and it was pretty good. If you combine and freeze it in a Tupperware container before school, by the time snack rolls around, it's a delightfully perfect temperature.
4Cookie Dough Bites
Phipps is a Type 1 diabetic, and therefore has become a bit of a kitchen witch when it comes to churning out recipes that keep blood sugar stable and taste delicious. My cookie dough calls for a cup and a half of brown sugar, plus marshmallows, so I'm glad Phipps is here to set us straight. Her cookie dough bites use maple syrup and chickpeas. Wild, I know, but it goes back to the protein, fat, and fiber combo that works so well.
Phipps says that there are convenience foods that can and do make a good low-sugar snack. Foods like dried fruit and nuts combos, and natural peanut butter packs, work an absolute treat when it comes to feeding your kids on the go.
If you've ever had a Justin's vanilla almond butter pack, you will already know that the gods have shone down upon those packets of delight, imbuing them with all that is good and wonderful in this world. You'll also know that they're super easy for kids to open and squeeze onto some whole grain crackers, a banana, or straight into their mouths. I also have a bit of a love affair with their peanut butter cups, but that's a story for a different time.
When it comes to low-sugar snacks to pack in your kids backpack that won't make them crash, the theme is simple — balance. Have some fun, some maple syrup or chocolate chips, and balance it with fat, fiber, and protein to provide sustained energy and prevent your kids from turning into hangry demons at dinnertime.