Healthy snacks are an important part of any young athlete’s diet. Nutrient-rich, protein-packed snack options are important for on-the-go kids like yours. But if you don’t plan ahead, it will become too easy to stop by the drive-through of a fast food restaurant or grab an overly processed pre-packaged option at your local convenience store. In addition to these snacks that require refrigeration, we’re going to suggest a few that are easy to pack along for after practice or before the big competition — no cooler bag required.
Go a Little Nuts!
While you’ll want to go heavier on the fruits and lower on the nuts, nuts can definitely play a role in your young athlete’s diet. While they do contain fat, it’s a healthy fat that can be beneficial when eaten in moderation. As we discussed in an earlier post about healthy proteins, peanuts aren’t the best choice of nuts. But if your child likes the taste of salty peanuts, then roasted cashews with sea salt will be a definite win! Other nuts you might want to consider include almonds, walnuts, pecans, and macadamia nuts. While you can purchase pre-packaged snack-sized baggies of some varieties of nuts, you can save some money by packaging them yourself. Just add a fistfull to a snack baggie, and you’ve got easy-to-grab, healthy snacks ready for your athlete to take on the go.
Watch Out for Dried Fruit
Many varieties of dried fruit include sugar, and we already know that’s something you want to avoid as much as possible, especially when longer-lasting energy is needed, such as before sports practice or a game. So watch your labels! But many dried fruits, including freeze-dried apples and pears, can be a healthy addition to your young athlete’s arsenal of snacks. Simply put portion-sized handfuls in snack bags, just like you did for nuts. Feel free to mix dried fruits with nuts for homemade trail mix, too!
Of course, some fresh fruits don’t require refrigeration, so they can be good choices for on-the-go snacking: oranges, apples, and bananas are a few. To keep cut apples from oxidizing, you can go ahead and cut them and keep them intact with a rubber band. To keep bananas from getting crushed, you may want to purchase a banana keeper like this one at Bed Bath & Beyond.
DIY Energy Balls
While these DIY energy balls are a little more labor intensive than simply putting portions in baggies, they offer more interesting textures without the other stuff that comes with most baked goods. They work best with a food processor and are made in small batches, but you’ll be surprised at how just one or two will fuel your young athlete’s energy levels (thus the name). From unsweetened shredded coconut to nut butters and pitted dates, as long as you have the ingredients on hand, you can quickly whip up a batch of healthy energy balls in just a few minutes. Click on the links below to view the recipes.
• Chocolate Energy Balls
• Cashew Energy Balls
• Pumpkin Pie Energy Balls