Summer Snacks to Pack for You and Your Kids

Keeping your kids happy – and their bellies full – over summer break is a tall order. Whether you’re spending a day at the beach or just lounging in the backyard pool, you need summer snacks that will make them smile, without ruining their dinner. And if you can come up with munchies that grown-ups like to eat too? Well, that’s just a bonus. Here are seven summer snacks that both you and your kids will love.

1. Homemade Microwave Popcorn

freshly popped popcorn

Bowl of popcorn on a checkered table | iStock.com

Microwave popcorn may be convenient, but it just doesn’t taste as good as the homemade variety. If you’ve been reluctant to give up on the convenience of nuked kernels, try this DIY microwave popcorn you make in a brown paper bag. It’s easy enough for kids to make on their own, and way more wholesome than the packaged stuff. Pop a few bags of this the next time you’re hosting DVD night or heading out for a movie in the park. Recipe from Bigger Bolder Baking.

Ingredients:

  • ⅓ cup (60 grams/2 ounces) popcorn kernels
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 3 tablespoons (45 grams/1½ ounces) butter, melted

Directions: Place the popcorn kernels in a medium-size brown paper bag. Roll the bag closed, making sure it’s tightly shut.

Place the bag upright in the microwave. Microwave for about 1 minute and 40 seconds. When there’s more than 1 second between pops, the popcorn is done. (Cooking times will vary depending on your microwave’s power.)

Add the melted butter and salt to the brown paper bag. Shake to combine. Serve.

2. Kid-Friendly Hummus

Hummus with pita and veggies

Hummus with pita and veggies | iStock.com

Pint-sized snackers will enjoy dunking pita, chips, and even veggies into this tasty, protein-packed chickpea dip. This recipe from PBS was created with kids in mind, and with a little help from their parents, they should be able to prepare this healthy hummus snack on their own.

Ingredients:

  • 3 cups canned chickpeas (1 28-ounce can) drained and rinsed
  • 2 large cloves of garlic peeled and crushed
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon pepper
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • ¼ cup lemon juice
  • ¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • ½ cup water
  • Pinch of chili pepper (optional)
  • 1 teaspoon paprika

Directions: Place all the ingredients except the water and the paprika in a blender. Puree until everything is smooth and creamy. If the hummus is too thick, turn off the blender and drizzle in a little water (no more than ½ a cup). Continue to puree until the mixture reaches the desired consistency.

Turn off blender, then scrape the contents into a bowl. Drizzle hummus with a little olive oil and sprinkle with paprika. Serve with pita wedges, crackers, chips, or cut veggies like carrots or bell pepper.

3. Homemade Energy Bars

energy bars on display

Homemade energy bars | iStock.com

Homemade energy bars will help both kids and grown-ups keep their energy up on summer afternoon hikes. These portable summer snacks have only four ingredients, don’t need to be baked, and are grain-free. Recipe from 100 Days of Real Food. Makes 12 bars.

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup Medjool dates, pitted
  • 1 cup raw cashews
  • ¼ cup peanut butter
  • 1 tablespoon water

Directions: Add the dates, cashews, peanut butter, and water to a food processor. Puree until everything is combined and the mixture begins to stick together. If necessary, add a little more water.

Place a piece of wax paper on a cutting board. Remove date mixture from the food processor and form into a ball with your hands. Place on wax paper and shape into a rectangle. Slice into 12 squares. Store bars in a covered container in the refrigerator until ready to eat (bars can also be kept at room temperature).

4. Baked Banana Chips

sliced bananas

Sliced bananas for banana chips | iStock.com

Making banana chips at home is so easy you’ll wonder why you ever paid $3 a bag for this snack. Not only is this recipe from Rainy Day Gal a healthier alternative to greasy potato chips, it’s also a great way to use up extra bananas.

Ingredients:

  • 2 overripe bananas
  • Non-stick cooking spray
  • 1 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon water
  • Cinnamon
  • Kosher salt

Directions: Preheat oven to 200 degrees Fahrenheit. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and coat with non-stick cooking spray. Thinly slice bananas (they should be between 1/8- and 1/4-inch thick) and transfer to the prepared baking sheet.

Combine the lemon juice and water in a small bowl. Brush onto banana slices. Sprinkle with cinnamon. Turn slices over and repeat process. Bake in oven for 90 minutes. Turn banana slices over and bake for 30 minutes more. Remove from oven and let cool. (Banana chips will get crispier as they cool.) Store in an airtight container until ready to eat.

5. Fruit and Cheese Kabobs

three fruit skewer in white plate

Fruit and cheese kabobs | iStock.com

Fruit and cheese kabobs are simple enough to please even the pickiest of eaters yet sophisticated enough to look right at home on appetizer plates at your next party. Plus, you can even put your kids to work making these easy-to-assemble treats. This recipe from The Lemon Bowl calls for ingredients like cheddar cheese, blackberries, and pineapple, but you can substitute whatever fruit or cheese you have on hand. Makes 8 skewers.

Ingredients:

  • ½ green apple, cut in bite-sized pieces
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice
  • 4 ounces mild cheddar cheese, cubed then quartered
  • 8 blackberries
  • 8 red grapes
  • ½ cup diced pineapple
  • 8 (4-inch) wooden skewers

Directions: Add apple pieces to a small bowl and toss with the lemon juice to prevent browning.

Thread one blackberry, one cheddar cheese cube, one grape, another piece of cheese, and the pineapple onto a wooden skewer. Repeat until all the skewers are full. Serve immediately or store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.

6. Zu-Canoes

pile of zucchinis

Zucchini | iStock.com

Not sure what to do with all that zucchini from your garden or CSA box? Take advantage of fresh summer produce with this recipe for zucchini stuffed with tomatoes, mozzarella, and basil. Even kids who usually turn their noses up at veggies will enjoy the creative presentation of this dish, which can even double as a light dinner. This recipe from Eating Well makes 4 servings.

Ingredients:

  • 2 medium, 2-inch-wide zucchini
  • ½ teaspoon salt, divided
  • ½ teaspoon freshly ground pepper, divided
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon white-wine vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon minced shallot
  • 1 cup quartered grape tomatoes
  • ½ cup diced mozzarella cheese, preferably fresh
  • ¼ cup thinly sliced fresh basil

Directions: Trim both ends off zucchini; cut in half lengthwise. Cut a thin slice off the backs so each half sits flat. Scoop out the pulp, leaving a ¼-inch shell. Finely chop the pulp; set aside.

Place the zucchini halves in a microwave-safe dish. Sprinkle with ¼ teaspoon each salt and pepper. Cover and microwave on high until tender-crisp, 3 to 4 minutes. (Alternatively, steam in a steamer basket over 1 inch of boiling water in a large skillet or pot.)

Whisk oil, vinegar, shallot and the remaining ¼ teaspoon each salt and pepper in a medium bowl. Add tomatoes, cheese, basil and the reserved zucchini pulp; toss to combine. Divide the filling among the zu-canoes.

7. Frozen Grapes and Kiwi

fruit grapes and kiwi

Grapes and kiwi | iStock.com

Ice cream isn’t the only way to beat the heat on sweltering summer days. When the temperatures hit the triple digits, reach for bag of frozen grapes and kiwi for a quick, healthy cool down. You can prep this simple snack recipe in advance, so you have a no-fuss solution when it’s too hot to do anything but dream about snow. Recipe from Martha Stewart.

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup grapes
  • 1 kiwi, peeled and cut into 1-inch pieces

Directions: Freeze grapes and kiwi on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Transfer to an airtight container to store.

Follow Megan on Twitter @MeganE_CS

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