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From Cheerios to goldfish, it seems the default snack in America today is the refined carbohydrate. Refined carbs quickly turn into sugar in the body, making them a poor choice for satiating hunger, creating balanced energy, or delivering much nutritional value. Furthermore, most refined crackers and breads contain gluten, which is known to irritate the nervous system.
In addition to gluten sensitivity, many children nowadays also have trouble with dairy products, which can crease inflammation in the body, excess congestion (like stuffy noses and ear infections), and constipation.
And as we’ve likely all noticed, high-sugar snacks like gummy chews and juice boxes can make kids hyperactive or irritable. (For more information on this check out our article How to improve your child’s behavior with blood sugar control.)
“So what on Earth do I feed my kid?” lots of parents ask me.
Here are some of my favorite gluten free, dairy free snacks – for both kids and adults:
Popcorn with Nutritional Yeast and Dill
It’s pretty easy to make popcorn at home. Heat a little oil in a covered pan and drop one kernel of popcorn into the pan. Once the kernel pops, you know the oil is hot enough. Add in more kernels and gentle slide the pan around on the burner to let the kernels heat up evenly and fill the pot.
Transfer the popped corn into a large bowl and sprinkle nutritional yeast, dill, and a little sea salt on top. Make sure the treat cools before serving, to avoid burning fingers and mouths. The cheesy flavor of the nutritional yeast is a hit with snackers of all ages.
Single Serving Almond Butter Packs
These come in a variety of flavors like plain, honey almond, maple almond, and even chocolate hazelnut. Use these to spice up veggie sticks, smear on an apple, or just eat straight out of the packet. I like the ones by Justin’s, as they’re guaranteed to be aflatoxin free.
Instant Miso Soup
Unlike other instant soups that come in Styrofoam containers and contain MSG, miso soup packets are responsibly packaged and free of chemical ingredients. Miso is made from fermented soy, making it a naturally probiotic-rich food.
I like this one from SanJ. Just dump the powder into a cup, add hot water, and stir.
Single-Serving Trail Mix Packets
Trader Joe’s has a variety of trail mixes that come in big bags of single-serving packets. My favorite is the Omega Trek Mix, as it isn’t too sugary and is a tastier alternative to the boring, peanut-heavy mixes you usually see elsewhere. I try to keep a few packets in every purse I own and in the glove compartment of my car, so I’m never caught without protein!
Meaty Snack Bars and Jerky
It’s like a power bar, but meaty!
…And Tanka bars are similar, but made from buffalo meat and studded with yummy cranberries.
It’s so hard to find gluten free jerky! Thankfully, the folks at Krave have heard our plea, offering a variety of options like black cherry pork jerky and lemon garlic turkey jerky, in addition to the expected beef varieties.
If you like a little treat during your day but have a hard time stopping yourself from devouring an entire chocolate bar, check out these single-serving wrapped chocolates.
Throw one or two in your lunch bag and leave the bigger bars for people with self-control around chocolate – as if they even exist.
Single-Serving Almond Milk
Drinks packaged in tetra-packs are shelf stable, and now companies are craftily making juice box sized almond milk. They’re handy for a packed lunch, picnic, or just to have on hand in the pantry.
Salty, crunchy, packed with iodine, these are strangely addictive and thankfully guilt-free. Don’t assume your kids won’t like this one: the paper thin sheets are surprisingly popular with kids.
These are a delicious and very satiating snack. They get a bad rep for being higher in fat than some other nuts, but they’re packed with the right kind of fat to help fill you up without causing weight gain.
Kale. Dehydrated. It tastes way better than it sounds. WAY better. Like oh-my-goodness-how-did-I-not-know-about-this good.
Choosing gluten free, dairy free, and low sugar snacks isn’t as hard as it may seem. Although there’s a learning curve at first, once you find a few treats that you and your kids like, you’ll be able to keep your pantry, purse, and car stocked, to ensure there’s always a healthy option on hand. Best of luck!