When your teen's friends are eating candy bars and chugging energy drinks, it can be a challenge to get your teen to choose healthier snack options. Nutritious snacks, such as crackers, cheese, yogurt and crunchy vegetables, often pale in comparison. However, not all healthy snacks have to be unappealing. Many natural and organic foods are also foods your teen will enjoy munching on for a snack.
Snacks for a Sweet Tooth
If your teen has a sweet tooth, he does not have to turn to cakes, cookies and candy bars. Often a piece of fruit will do. However, if your teen wants something a little more snack-like, try some of these healthful selections, many of which are simply better version of the things he already enjoys.
Most people think granola bars are healthy, but to get the healthy effect, you need to choose a brand that is not filled with sugar and fattening ingredients. Try some of these brands for a better granola bar:
- Kashi TLC Chewy Granola Bar
- Nature's Path Organic Granola Bars
- Clif Crunch Granola Bar
- Kind Bars
- Annie's Granola Bars
- Kraft Milk Bites
Try some dried fruit such as banana chips, dried strawberries, raisins, or dried cranberries. These can be as appetizing as candy. Fruit leather is another option for teens who want something sweet and candy-like. Some particularly enjoyable dried fruits and fruit leather include the following:
- Bare Fruit 100% Organic Bake-Dried Snacks
- Peeled Snacks Fruit Picks
- Sunmaid Raisins and other dried fruit
- Ocean Spray Craisins and other dried fruit
- Funky Monkey Fruit that Crunches
- Stretch Island Original Fruit Leathers
- Simply Fruit Fruit Rolls
Manufacturers are designing some types of packaged cookies to be good for you and taste good at the same time. These cookies and bars are often made with whole grains and come without all of the sugar. Try a few of these brands on your teen:
- Barbara's Bakery Snackimals Animal Cookies in six different flavors
- Special K Fruit Crisps and Bars
- Kashi TLC Cookies
- Caveman Cookies
A sorbet is a fruit-flavored frozen treat with a texture similar to ice cream. Sorbets still have a lot of sugar in them, but for a teen who regularly craves frozen treats, they're a healthier option. See if sorbet works for your teen by purchasing a few of these brands:
- Whole Fruit Sorbet
- Ciao Bella Sorbets
- Haagen-Dazs Sorbets
Frozen yogurt and gelato are other alternatives to traditional ice cream.
Not all chocolate is bad chocolate. In fact, dark chocolate has a lot of health benefits. When your teen needs her next chocolate fix, try some of these dark chocolate options:
- Hershey Kisses Special Dark
- Ghiardelli Intense Premium Dark Chocolate
- Brookside Dark Chocolate Covered Fruits
- Kind PLUS Dark Chocolate Bars
Chips and fried snacks are not the only ways to satisfy a craving for something salty. More nutritious options are often baked rather than fried and contain lower amounts of sodium. Keep in mind, however, that even though sodium levels are lower in these snacks, teens should still consume them in moderation to avoid problems such as high blood pressure or water retention. On the other hand, teens who are involved with sports will want to add more sodium to their diets to help replace electrolytes lost while sweating.
Chips are the go-to snack when a teen wants something salty, but they're also loaded with oils, fat, calories and preservatives. Since they have an addictive quality, it's easy to keep munching away. Instead of eating salty, fried chips, try some baked varieties or other healthy varieties, such as these varieties:
- Lay's Baked Potato Chips, Cheetos and Doritos
- Stacy's Pita Chips
- Garden of Eatin' Tortilla Chips
- Terra Vegetable Chips
- Sensible Portions Veggie Snacks
If your teen likes chips with dips, substitute salsa or hummus.
Crackers can be an alternative to chips and other salty snacks. Look for crackers that are baked and made of whole grains. Some varieties teens may enjoy include the following:
- Pepperidge Farm Goldfish
- Kashi Snack Crackers
- Mary's Gone Crackers
Popcorn is another favorite salty snack, but when loaded with salt and butter, it's anything but good for you. Opt for air-popped brands or those with controlled amounts of butter and salt, such as these options:
- Smartfood Popcorn
- Pop Secret 100-calorie Pop
- Orville Redenbacher's Smart Pop
- Jolly Time Healthy Pop
- Good Health Organic Popcorn
Beef jerky may seem extremely unhealthy and loaded with fat, salt and other preservatives, but when done right, it is also high in protein. Try some of these healthier varieties:
- JuJu Jerky
- Golden Valley Natural Organic Beef Jerky
- Caveman Beef Jerky
- Gourmet Natural Beef Jerky from Rain Crow Ranch
High Protein Snacks
Snacks that are high in protein will give teens a lot of energy and fill them with healthy fats and oils. Nuts, cheese, peanut butter and beef jerky are all snacks that are high in protein. Unlike sugary snacks, energy from protein is designed to last a lot longer. Protein bars are another snack loaded with protein to give a teen the energy he needs. A few varieties of protein bars include the following:
- Luna Protein Bars
- Clif Bar
- Odwalla Super Protein
- Kind PLUS
- Special K Protein Meal Bar
Keep in mind, however, that teens should still consume protein bars in moderation. Otherwise the fat and calories they contain could lead to weight gain. They're ideal for teens who need a filling snack without eating a lot or who have to go a long time between lunch and dinner and need something to tide them over.
Energy does not have to come from a Red Bull or Rock Star energy drink. Most raw fruits and vegetables will give teens the burst of energy they need. Foods that are high in protein will also give extra energy, and drinking water with lemon or coconut water can replace sugary energy drinks. However, if your teen still feels a need for that quick burst of energy, try some healthier energy drinks:
- FRS Healthy Energy
- Ex Drinks
Pre-packaged foods can be expensive. Try some of these healthful bites to save money and still give your teen delicious snack options.
Carrots, celery sticks and strips of peppers make great, nutritious bites for teens. Keep in mind that teens won't cut veggies up for themselves; they are way too busy. When hunger hits, it hits fast and furious. Have veggies already cut into sticks and stored in baggies, making them easier to grab on the run.
Keep plain yogurt and fresh or frozen fruit available to throw into the blender. Follow these steps to make a tasty smoothie:
- Place a cup of frozen fruit in the blender.
- Add 1/2 cup yogurt and 1/2 cup milk to a cup of frozen fruits.
- Add two teaspoons of sugar or sugar substitute.
- Blend together.
- Pour in a glass for a quick refreshing and filling frosty drink.
Consider making homemade granola for a sweet, healthy treat. To make the granola, just follow these steps:
- Mix a few cups of rolled oats and a cup or two of almonds in a bowl.
- Add 3/4 cup of oil and 1/2 cup of honey or maple syrup to the oats and nuts and mix thoroughly.
- Spread the mixture on a cookie sheet and bake in a 350-degree oven until it is golden brown, 30-45 minutes.
- Allow the granola to cool.
- Add your additional ingredients, such as mini chocolate chips, sunflower seeds, dried fruits, raisins or shredded coconut.
- Store in an airtight container.
Choosing Healthy Snacks
Help your teen understand the importance of choosing healthy snacks over snacks full of sugar, sodium or fat. Nutritious snacking options for teens who are active in sports and extracurricular activities are important to maintain energy levels. These kids may be eating on the run and not taking time to sit down for nutritious meals. Teens who drive may catch a meal or snack at the local drive-through, picking up things like french fries and burgers instead of healthier choices like yogurt and cheese. Teens who are more sedentary may be home for meals but also may be munching during video games, movies, or over a good book. Providing healthful bites at home and packing them for convenience will help your teen learn to make great snack choices.