6 Brain-Healthy Snacks for Kids On the Go

It’s a simple equation: Busy schedules plus picky young eaters plus a lack of preplanning can equal a disaster when it comes to your kids’ snacking habits. Many parents, weighed down by endless to-dos, don’t prioritize healthy snacks for their children. But when you stock several options that can be easily enjoyed on the go, there’s no excuse for not eating right, even between meals.

With childhood obesity, a decrease in physical activity, and the easy availability of ultra-processed foods now affecting our youth, this topic is more important than ever. Stuffing kids with sweets like donuts and pastries, or salty, unsatisfying choices like chips, harms instead of nourishes their health. Here, I’ll share some of my favorite kid-friendly snacks, as well as my top snack-planning tips for busy parents.

6 Healthy Snacks for Kids On the Go

Best Healthy Snacks for Kids-On-the-Go | BrainMD


Snacking is a healthy part of our eating routine—but only when we make the right choices. A quality snack will fight fatigue and fuel energy so your kids can do their best at school or on homework. It will also keep them from being so hungry that they overeat at meals or reach for junk foods.

In general, a mix of protein, healthy fats, and complex carbohydrates (such as raw veggies) are the building blocks of a well-balanced snack. These are best served in the mid-morning, mid-afternoon and/or later afternoon to keep their metabolism going strong throughout the day. Here are some ideas for kid-approved snacks that they can eat even if time is limited:

 1. Stay Sharp Pizza Snacks

Kids notoriously love pizza. But they can be less than enthusiastic about eating their veggies. The Stay Sharp Pizza Snack is a way to combine both—I call it a gateway to healthy eating. Plus, you can endlessly customize this recipe to fit your needs.

For a more traditional take, you could use a gluten-free pizza crust or gluten-free bread as the base, but I like sneaking in veggies by using a halved zucchini or squash as the pizza “crust.” You simply top it with tomato sauce and other heart-healthy ingredients (think dairy-free cheese, lean proteins, and veggies), then bake in the oven. It’s a fun finger food for before a homework session, or to serve when your child’s friends are visiting.

 2. Go-Well Trail Mix

Trail mix offers that ideal combo I mentioned above: protein, fat, and carbohydrates. Plus, you can make a big batch and grab it on the go, saving your kids from the school vending machine or a drive-thru window. I love my Go-Well Trail Mix specifically for its brain-healthy omega-3 fatty acids and delicious fruit combination (berries and coconut—yum).

Simply mix ¼ cup each of raw cashews, raw slivered almonds, raw walnuts, and raw cacao nibs, plus 2 tablespoons each of goji berries, dried mulberries, dried blueberries, and shaved coconut (all unsweetened). You can adjust this recipe to the amount you need and simply separate it into small containers to keep portion size on track.

 3. Fruit and Nuts

I love this combination because it can be customized in so many ways—and can even mimic a decadent dessert. For example, get all of the comfort of homemade apple pie (without the sugar and simple carbs) by slicing up a half or whole green or red apple, then sprinkling it with cinnamon. Warm it up in the oven at 350 degrees for about 10 minutes, and serve with 1 tablespoon of almond butter for dipping. (Just make sure the apple has cooled if your kids are taking this snack on the go.)

If you don’t have an oven handy or time to spare, no problem—grab a small piece of raw fruit and about 10 whole nuts, such as macadamia nuts, or 1 tablespoon of nut butter. I avoid peanut butter—peanuts are in the legume family and high in omega-6 fatty acids—in favor of almond butter and cashew butter.

 4. Fun Dips

Who doesn’t love a tasty dip to liven up their snacks? One super-portable snack I love consists of a hard-boiled egg, 2 cups of raw veggies, and 2 tablespoons of guacamole, salsa, or hummus for dipping. You can also serve celery sticks or other veggies with 1 to 2 tablespoons of raw almond butter.

Dips give kids an interactive eating experience, allowing them to play with their food in a parent-approved way. Chances are, they’ll enjoy their veggies more with a little extra fun on the side.

 5. Quick Wraps

One of my favorite lunches, which can also be portioned out in a snack size, is the Tasty Turkey Wrap. It’s a great choice for kids on the go, because the healthy fillings are all wrapped up in a tortilla or lettuce leaf, making it a no-mess, no-fuss, handheld option.

To prepare, simply make a light salad with mixed baby greens and a little olive oil, lime juice, cilantro, salt and pepper. Put a snack-size portion of turkey breast in a tortilla or lettuce leaf, top with the greens and some avocado and tomato, and fold it up and slice in half. Voilà—this wrap is ready to roll.

Brain Boost Bar | Health Protein Bar | BrainMD6. Protein Bars

I love protein bars as a great brain-healthy snack for kids on the go, but you need to be careful with your selection or make them yourself, from scratch. If you’re buying pre-made, go for a bar that is grain-free and gluten-free, and scan the label for sugar counts. My favorite pre-made choice is BrainMD’s Brain Boost Bar.

If you’re making your own, try my Superfood Protein Bars in The Omni Diet book. They combine healthy ingredients like cacao butter, raw cashews, raw almonds, hemp seeds or flax seeds, yummy spices like cinnamon, a little honey, and other delicious add-ins that blend together beautifully for a snack that’s a grab-and-go no-brainer.

How to Encourage Healthy Snacking for Your Kids

Here are a few of my best strategies for encouraging healthier habits—and for making your job as a parent easier, too.

  • Be a healthy role model. What habits are you modeling for your kids? Expose your children early and often to healthy ways of eating. Stock the kitchen with whole foods—kids can’t reach for junk-food snacks when they’re not around. And educate them on how food makes them feel, and how it affects the body.
  • Jazz it up! When kids are less than enthusiastic about eating their veggies, boost your snacks’ flavor through the use of herbs and spices. They offer added nutrition and make everything taste better.
  • Get your kids involved. If you want your kids to eat healthier, recruit them in the process. They’ll love topping their own Stay Sharp Pizza Snacks (above) or stirring up the next batch of trail mix. They’ll also be more likely to enjoy the fruits of their labor.
  • Rethink old favorites. Frozen treats, chocolate, and ice cream—off the list forever? Not if you make better choices. Replace ice cream with avocado gelato. Eat frozen bananas instead of ice pops. Add a small piece of 70-percent cocoa dark chocolate to your snack, which contains antioxidants instead of sky-high sugar counts. Dip veggie sticks instead of chips.
  • Plan ahead. When hunger strikes, you want to be prepared. Bring healthy snacks to outings like amusement parks or the movies. Keep healthy foods (like veggies, hummus, nuts, and seeds) in snack-size portions. Do your menu planning, shopping, and food preparation in advance.

Parents, it’s time to take back our snack foods. Let’s ditch the salty, sugary, processed choices that are so often associated with between-meal bites and choose foods that truly fuel the brain and body. With just a little preparation and forethought, healthy snacks for kids and parents on the go can be a breeze.

Remember, healthy snacking for your kids starts with you.

Tana Amen, BSN, RN