Try these natural alternatives packed with nutritious ingredients.
Agave popcorn balls
Makes 16-20 / No toy surprise with these healthy Cracker Jack imitations — the reward comes from a deliciously sweet treat with no refined sugar, butter, or artificial ingredients. Because they contain no granulated sugar, these are softer than caramel corn. View recipe.
Gluten-free walnut brownie energy bites
Makes 12 / Decadent and rich, these are made with good-fat almonds and antioxidant-laden cacao and sweetened with fiber-rich Medjool dates. They provide whole-food nutrition, so enjoy as a snack or treat. These can be kept at room temperature for a couple of days or will keep for at least a week refrigerated. Ingredient tips: Bob’s Red Mill makes almond meal (flour), but if you can’t find it, just use whole raw almonds and process them into a powder using your food processor. Prep tip: Keep batter from sticking to your hands by lightly coating them with coconut oil, olive oil, or even water. View recipe.
No-bake apple-butter pecan balls
Makes about 20 / Rich in protein, fiber, and complex carbs, these take-along treats are even healthy enough for breakfast. Ingredient tip: Find oat flour in the bulk or baking section of natural foods markets. View recipe.
Amaranth-nut energy bars
Makes 20-24 / Loaded with good stuff for lasting energy. Molasses makes a nutritious but earthy sweetener; if you like more sweetness, experiment with a combination of molasses and honey or agave nectar. View recipe.
Soy nut trail mix
Makes 5 cups / This tasty snack can be mixed ahead of time and munched on for several weeks. If you’re sensitive to soy, substitute raw almonds for the soy nuts. View recipe.
Serves 8 / These mineral-rich, pop-in-your-mouth crunchies are a low-carb alternative to popcorn, potato chips, or french fries. The winning formula? Salty, sour, and sweet. View recipe.
Lemony hummus with seasoned pita chips
Makes about 1-1/2 cups / This well-known dip is a combination of chickpeas (a staple of Israeli food) and tahini, ground sesame-seed paste available at ethnic and natural foods stores. To avoid a strong raw garlic taste, gently sauté the garlic and onion in olive oil. Serve with Seasoned Pita Chips or carrot and cucumber rounds. I make my hummus extra lemony for my husband. View recipe.
Serves 2 What four words describe your child's perfect snack? "Ready in a minute!" Nachos are fast food that all kids can learn to make. And the good news is that it's a lot healthier than any drive-thru fast food, too. View recipe.
Oat and fig squares
Makes 16 / Figs are rich in antioxidants, but in processed cookies they are commonly smothered in refined flour and sugar. This recipe incorporates these healthy fruits, fiber-filled oats, and honey to make a treat with much less sugar than a standard energy bar or cookie. View recipe.
Cumin-scented bagel chips
Cumin-Scented Bagel Chips Serves 4 to 6 Who can resist a basket full of savory, crunchy bagel chips? Spelt or kamut bagel chips make wonderful treats for the wheat-sensitive people on your holiday gift list. View recipe.
Serves 15 / A staple on Sundance breakfast tables, this sweet, crunchy granola also makes a great snack. Stir regularly while baking in the oven to prevent sticking or burning. Prep time: 5 minutes Cooking time: 1 hour. View recipe.
Apple Walnut Oat Muffins
Makes 12 / These tender little muffins are light on fat and heavy on flavor, and they contain cholesterol-lowering apples and walnuts. View recipe.
Nutty oatmeal-chocolate bars
Makes 24 / Although it would be great if we reached for broccoli instead of sweets when we’re stressed, there’s no need to feel guilty with these treats. Oats have a calming effect, and chocolate contains magnesium, believed to help ease anxiety. To make cookies instead of bars, drop tablespoons of dough onto a prepared cookie sheet and bake for about 10 minutes. View recipe.
Three-minute sushi rolls
Makes 12 / Both kids and adults love these simple rolls that can be made in minutes. Ingredient tip: Look for seaweed sheets in the Asian section of your natural foods market. View recipe.
Quick spinach quesadillas
Serves 6 / Prep tip: These are ideally cooked in a “tawa,” an Indian concave pan used to make chapatis. A large wok is second best, followed by a nonstick pan roughly the diameter of the tortillas. View recipe.
Makes 12 / What kid doesn’t love peanut butter and jelly? It’s a parent-approved combination, providing protein, vitamins, and healthy fats. These kid-friendly muffins also pack in nutrients with whole-wheat flour, carrots, and zucchini—nutritional bonuses your picky eater won’t even notice. View recipe.
White bean dip with pita crisps
Serves 4/ An alternative to hummus, this dip is a fast, easy and tasty snack. View recipe.
Easy agave treats
Simple, tasty, and nutritious, the whole family with love them! View recipe.
Roasted jicama sticks with tofu-basil dip
Serves 4 / Slices of roasted jicama, a crunchy white root vegetable usually eaten raw, make a sublime match for this luscious, protein-packed dip. View recipes.
Baked Fish Sticks
Serves 4 / This recipe is much more healthful than most commercially-made versions. I used fresh cod and free-range organic chicken, and my food critics loved 'em. Prep time: 10 minutes Cooking time: 12-15 minutes. View recipe.