Does anyone else’s child wake up famished from their afternoon nap? I don’t know if she is running a marathon or fighting dragons in that one and a half hour, but my daughter mostly wakes up talking about food and the first thing she wants to do is head into the “Chicken” (kitchen, obviously) and see what she can find that is worth eating. That is the reason I am always searching for snack ideas for her that are healthy and fun. Fun for her is measured by the Mess Making Potential or MMP of any dish. I have noticed that the larger the MMP (measured from 0 to 10) of the meal, the greater the chances of her finishing most of what’s on her plate. So even though I want to tear out my hair at the state of her face and clothes and the entirety of the area where she ate, the smile on her face and the satisfaction that she ate a nutritious, wholesome snack are compensation enough. Here are a few simple snack ideas that are tried, tested and toddler approved.
Pasta Salad (MMP – 3)
This salad is very popular in our family for a number of reasons. I love that it takes only a couple of minutes to put together if you have leftover boiled pasta in the fridge, it includes my daughter’s fruit and vegetable requirement for the day, it is a great meal to take along if you are going outside and the mess making potential of this is very limited. My daughter loves that it has pasta and olives, her two favorites, and she can eat it with her hands wherever she may be. You can just about put anything in it and it will still taste good and have a substantial nutritional value. Here is how I make it.
- Pasta – 1 cup, boiled
- Apple – 1, diced into bite size pieces
- Cucumber – 1, diced into bite size pieces
- Broccoli – A few florets, blanched, grilled or raw
- Cherry tomatoes – 8 to 10, cut into quarters
- Lettuce leaves – a few, torn into small pieces
- Salt and Pepper – as needed
- Olive oil – as needed
Mix all the fruits and vegetables with the pasta and keep in the fridge until ready to serve. Season with salt, pepper and olive oil right before eating.
Zucchini Chips (MMP – 5)
Zucchini is one of my daughter’s favorite vegetables, I suppose because of its mild, nothing really taste. She loves it in a gravy of onions and tomatoes for lunch and also grilled, in salads. Once, when I had a leftover zucchini in the fridge, I decided to make it into chips in the airfryer as a healthy snack option for her and it went down surprisingly well with her as well as The Husband. This is a simple snack that does not require a lot of planning ahead and can be ready within a few minutes. You can make it more interesting for your toddler by serving it with some kind of a dipping sauce, which according to my observation, is the kind of thing that toddlers live for. My daughter has lately discovered tomato ketchup and I don’t really mind giving her a tablespoon of it with these chips.
- Zucchini – 1 medium sized, cut into thin slices
- Egg – 1, beaten
- Parmesan cheese – Grated, 4 tablespoons
- Bread crumbs – 3 tablespoons
- Salt and Pepper – To taste
- Preheat your airfryer to 180⁰C.
- Mix the parmesan cheese, breadcrumbs, salt and pepper in a shallow dish.
- Dip the zucchini slices in the beaten egg and then coat lightly with the cheese and crumb mixture.
- Place the coated zucchini slices in the airfryer in a single layer and cook for 8 to 10 minutes.
- Serve warm with a dip.
Banana-Nutella Puffs (MMP – 7)
Banana? Good! Nutella? Good! Puff pastry? Gooood! (Joey from Friends reference. Anybody?) This snack idea is based on my undying love for Nutella and the opportunity to introduce my daughter to it. I am not proud of what I have done, but I bury my shame inside the oozing chocolatey and banana goodness of these puffs. Besides the smile on my daughter’s face is totally worth it.
- Frozen Puff Pastry squares – as needed, thawed for 10 minutes
- Banana – as needed, cut into slices
- Nutella – 1 heaped teaspoon for each square, kept out of the fridge for at least 30 minutes
- Egg – 1, beaten and mixed with 1 tablespoon of water
- Nuts – Chopped, as needed
- Preheat your airfryer to 180⁰C.
- Spread Nutella generously on the puff pastry squares leaving almost an inch around the borders.
- Place banana slices on one half of the puff pastry square.
- Sprinkle chopped nuts on the bananas and fold the puff pastry into a rectangle.
- Brush the egg wash on the puffs and put them in the airfryer in a single layer.
- Bake for around 10 minutes and serve warm.
Salt and Pepper Broccoli (MMP – 6)
Broccoli is a food that our daughter introduced to us in a way. Both me and The Husband never really cared about broccoli up until a year ago when on a casual dinner in a steak restaurant, our daughter, then one year old, gobbled up all the broccoli in our plates and gave us huge smiles. Seeing that and knowing about its high nutritional value, we decided to give broccoli a chance. I blanched it and served it to my daughter a few times but she didn’t enjoy it as much as she did in the restaurant. On our next visit, I suspiciously tasted the broccoli myself and discovered that it was cooked in butter and seasoned with salt and pepper. It was delicious! I recreated it at home, replacing the butter with olive oil and also used lemon juice for additional flavor. Long story short, all of us love broccoli cooked this way. It is an essential element of our salads now and my daughter frequently snacks on it happily.
- Broccoli – 1 head, broken into florets
- Olive oil – 2 tablespoons
- Salt and pepper – as needed
- Lemon juice – 1 tablespoon
- Wash the broccoli florets well and pat dry with a kitchen towel.
- Sprinkle with salt and pepper, drizzle olive oil and mix to coat all the florets.
- Place broccoli in the airfryer basket and cook for 6 to 7 minutes at 180⁰C, taking out the basket half way and shaking to avoid over browning.
- Pour lemon juice on the broccoli as soon as it is out of the airfryer.
- Serve warm with a dip. My kid likes this dip of yogurt, garlic, salt and pepper.
Fruit Smoothies (MMP – Varies from 1 to 10)
This is possibly the easiest snack for a mom to put together but has a very high satisfaction value. I am happiest when I know that my daughter has put good quality, nutritious food in her body all day and nothing beats a delicious fruit smoothie at snack time. My daughter still thinks of it as juice so she is as pleased with it as I am. And she loves it even more if she manages to open the lid of her drinking cup, hence the variable MMP.
- Fruit of your choice – handful of fresh or frozen berries/half a banana/half a peach
- Milk – ½ cup
- Yogurt – 1 tablespoon
- Ice – 2 to 3 cubes
- Sweetener of your choice – sugar/honey/maple syrup
Mix all the ingredients in a blender and serve with a wide straw.
Pita Chips and Vegetable Sticks with Hummus (MMP – 7)
The love of hummus is very strong in our family. So this is mine and my daughter’s favorite snack for the days that we have left over hummus in the fridge from last night’s Lebanese take out. The pita chips were an accidental creation to use up the day old last slice that no one wants to eat. Together with the vegetables, this makes a yummy snack that is super healthy and has great mess making potential for my child.
- Pita bread – 1 slice, cut into small pieces
- Olive oil – 2 tablespoons and as needed
- Vegetables – Cucumber, carrots, celery
- Hummus – As needed
- Place the pita bread pieces in a bowl, pour olive oil on them and mix well to ensure that all pieces are coated.
- Put the pita bread pieces in the airfryer basket and cook for 4 to 5 minutes at 180⁰C, checking regularly to avoid over browning.
- Serve the warm pita bread chips and vegetable sticks with hummus and a drizzle of olive oil.
I realize that I have mentioned the airfryer in most of my snack ideas. And truth be told, we really do love our airfryer and it is easily one of the most used appliance in our kitchen. It works like a tiny oven but without the hassle of preheating and tough cleaning. Even though I strongly recommend that every household have an airfryer in their kitchen, obviously these recipes can easily be recreated in a regular oven. I hope you and your kids enjoy them as much as we do. Thanks for reading.