10 plant-based, kid-friendly snacks for back-to-school season

You may have set a goal this school year to provide your kids with healthier snacks in their lunchboxes, or already stocked up for your children’s after-school snacks at home.

While this goal is honorable and wise, being a parent typically means being pressed for time, and finding quick and healthy snacks can be a challenge. An easy solution is batch prepping tasty plant-based snacks with minimal ingredients that can last the entire week ahead.

Thistle selected 10 vegan, nut-free, and kid-friendly snacks that are easy to pack as a new academic year is starting. Some don’t even require you to cook.

Providing your child with plant-based options can help improve health. According to one study on children’s eating habits, plant-based diets showed a reduced risk of obesity and cardiovascular disease, though children who are fully on vegan diets require well-planned meals so they are not deficient in vitamin B12 and iron, among other nutrients.

Here are 10 plant-based snacks to whip up for your kids right at home.

1. Easy chia pudding

Instead of fruit-flavored yogurt loaded with added sugars, these easy chia puddings can be made in all kinds of flavors such as chocolate, vanilla, berry, and peanut butter.

Bowls of chia pudding with mint leaves and blueberries on top.

Chia seed puddings work with any plant-based milk and can be made sweet with natural sugars like maple syrup, honey, coconut sugar, and agave nectar.

2. All-fruit bars

Chia seeds are a powerful source of omega-3 fatty acids, which is important for brain development and function, immunity, heart health, and weight management.Fruit bars wrapped in brown paper with red ties.

If you prefer to skip the packaged fruit bars full of added sugars and preservatives, you can easily make a batch with this homemade fruit bars recipe. These bars can be made in three variations—cranberry walnut, tropical with dried pineapple and mango, or chocolate mocha.

3. Thumbprint cookies

Each of these bars is naturally sweetened using dates, which have brain-boosting properties thanks to the various antioxidants in the fruit that reduce inflammation.Little cookies with red filling in the center on a baking rack.

These soft thumbprint cookies are so tasty, that you won’t believe they’re also gluten-free, refined sugar-free, vegan, and oil-free.

This recipe calls for aquafaba, the liquid typically drained from a can of chickpeas or a bowl of soaked chickpeas. Whip the aquafaba like a meringue, and fold it into the base cookie mixture, which includes oats for fiber and almond flour for vitamin E.

4. Berry pop tart

When the cookies are finished, fill them with the flavor your children enjoy best—strawberry, hazelnut chocolate, or salted caramel.Homemade pop-tarts with fruit filling and glaze on top.

Your child’s go-to after-school toaster pastry just got much healthier thanks to this Vegan Berry Pop Tart recipe. The recipe calls for seven ingredients and makes up to six tarts, making it an easy snack to batch prep for the busy week ahead.

While a typical Pop Tart contains around 15 grams of sugar—30 grams per serving, which is two pastries per package—each homemade tart only has 3.5 grams of sugar, naturally sweetened with frozen berries and a touch of raw sugar.

5. Crispy treats

The pastries are topped with a vanilla glaze, but you could skip it and just do an egg wash on top of each pastry with a light sugar dusting. Or leave it as is.A stack of rice krispie treats on a wooden cutting board.

These Vegan Rice Krispie Treats are a plant-based twist on a classic favorite. This recipe simply swaps out butter and marshmallows for plant-based versions, with a touch of vanilla extract for flavor, giving it that extra something special.

6. Nut-free, no-bake energy balls

Keep in mind that Rice Krispies are not vegan, so to truly make this a vegan dish, the recipe recommends using a vegan version of the cereal.A plate stacked with oat balls.

These nut-free, no-bake energy balls are perfect for busy parents. They require no actual cooking and call for minimal ingredients, yet make a large enough batch to last the rest of the week.

These energy balls are made with oats and flax meal, giving this snack a fiber boost which helps maintain a healthy gut microbiome.

7. Crispy roasted chickpeas

Most children are not allowed to bring nut-based products to school, so these balls are bound together with sunflower butter, which is a great source of iron, vitamin E, magnesium, phosphorus, zinc, and folate.Crispy roasted chickpeas.

These crispy roasted chickpeas are the perfect crunchy, salty snack to replace potato chips, which don’t provide any nutritional benefit.

8. Vegan protein mango bread

Chickpeas are a great source of protein, providing over 5 grams of satiating protein and almost 9 grams of fiber with a quarter cup. Roast these chickpeas with any flavor of your choice.Slices of mango bread next to mangos.

This vegan protein mango bread sneaks in an extra boost of protein thanks to the vegan vanilla protein powder in the recipe. Children need a sufficient amount of protein in their diet to help build and repair various parts of the body from muscles to nails.

9. Broccoli-cauliflower veggie tots

This bread only calls for five ingredients and is bursting with flavor thanks to the mango puree. It works well as a school snack, but can also serve as an easy breakfast in the morning before running off to school.A white plate full of veggie tots with salsa on the side and gold silverware.

These baked broccoli-cauliflower veggie tots are bound together with potato, giving this snack a boost of potassium, fiber, and vitamin C, which helps with building your child’s immune system and maintaining healthy bones and teeth.

10. Sweet and spicy tortilla chips

Pair these tots with a plant-based chive dip, which is blended up with cashews to make it creamy and thick.Homemade tortilla chips and a bowl of guacamole with garlic and avocado in the background.

If your kids really have a hankering for some chips, then these sweet and spicy tortilla chips should do the trick—plus, they pair well with vegetables and fruits.

These chips have a sprinkling of brown sugar, but also call for a touch of cayenne for something spicy. If your child doesn’t like spicy food, you can always reduce or cut out this ingredient.

These chips goes well with fruit salsa or even smashed avocado, which provides monounsaturated fats that benefit your child’s growth and development, while decreasing the risk of heart disease.

This story originally appeared on Thistle and was produced and distributed in partnership with Stacker Studio.

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