Smart snacking on the go
Trained at The Institute of Culinary Education, Becka Brown teaches cooking classes and has started Plate & Platter as a way to bring chef-prepared inspiration into your home through personalized weekly meals, dinner parties, and cooking classes.
It can be hard to keep your little ones healthy and happy when you’re on the go. If you don’t plan ahead, you’re left with whatever is convenient, which isn’t usually very nutritious. But with a little forethought and preparation, you can ensure your baby will have healthy snack options that won’t make you cringe at the thought of cleanup.
Prepare a small snack bag that always stays packed so you won’t have to worry about leaving anything crucial at home. The basics include:
- Disposable or waterproof bib – simply toss one or give the other a quick wipe
- Wet wipes – make for easy cleanup of baby, bib, utensils
- Hand sanitizer – an easy way to stay germ-free on the go
- Zip-top plastic bags – a good barrier between soiled or difficult-to-clean objects and your bag
- Snacks that don’t need refrigeration are ideal but not always possible. Bring an ice pack to keep things cool.
Keep reading for tips and recipes for babies 4-24 months!
As your baby first starts enjoying solids, it can be tricky to avoid messy purees. However, if you take a couple of steps to minimize the mess, these types of snacks on the go will make everyone happy. In addition to a wonderful immersion blender hybridized with a food processor, Sage Spoonfuls makes air-tight, leak-proof, freezer and dishwasher-safe containers. They have easy-to-use screw-on lids that keep purees in the container (instead of all over your bag). I also like the on-the-go version of the OXO Tot Feeding Spoon. It comes with a travel case so you can leave the cleanup for later.
Once your kids have moved on to finger foods, it opens up a whole new world of possibilities. Just because something like avocado or tofu can get messy, doesn’t mean you have to exclude it from snack time. Process some wheat germ or oats into a texture that suits your baby, and roll bite-sized pieces of soft, wet foods in the grains. This way, each piece isn’t so messy to eat with fingers and won’t stick together.
Baked veggie fries are another great option. Whether it be sweet potatoes, butternut squash, or zucchini, peel and toss fry-shaped lengths with a little bit of olive oil and ground spices (cinnamon, ginger, curry powder, chili powder) before baking in a 400 degree oven until soft and slightly browned. Let them cool before packing up for a delicious and nutritious on-the-go snack. Introducing new spices is a great way to add flavor to your baby’s diet without extra salt or sugar.
As a special treat, my guilt-free Banana Oat Cookies are always a hit (scroll down for the recipe!).
Now you hopefully have an adventurous little eater on your hands! To keep snack time interesting, set aside time one day to cook up a few things that will last throughout the week. Baked Chicken Fingers can be paired with dipping sauces at home or eaten on the go. Salmon Quinoa Cakes pack a nutritious punch and can be modified to include almost any kind of fish, shredded meat, or shredded veggie as the star. And one more way to sneak in some extra veggies and satisfy a sweet tooth – Morning Glory Mini Muffins.
Your youngster should be cleared for allergies to all ingredients in a recipe before trying something new. It’s also a good idea to try new snacks at home first to be sure your kiddo likes them; otherwise you may find that your intentions for a healthy, happy baby result in an unhappy mom!
Banana Oat Cookies
Makes about 20 cookies
- 2 ripe organic bananas
- 1 ¼ cups oats
- ⅓ cup flax seed meal
- ½ teaspoon cinnamon
- Toasted wheat germ (optional)
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Prepare a baking sheet with parchment paper.
Mash bananas well and add cinnamon.
Put oats in a food processor and process into a fine powder, about 2 minutes (texture may depend on your baby’s age).
Mix the oats with the flax seed meal and add mixture to the mashed bananas a handful at a time, until you reach the desired consistency of a slightly sticky cookie dough.
Shape dough into 1” balls and flatten to create cookies. Place on the prepared baking sheet and bake for about 10-12 minutes. Let cool completely before storing or eating.
For a crunchier exterior, coat in toasted wheat germ prior to baking.
Refrigerate in an airtight container for up to 3 days or freeze in a freezer bag for up to 3 months.
Baked Chicken Fingers
Makes about 14-18 pieces
- 1 Tablespoon melted organic butter
- 6 ounces plain organic whole-milk yogurt
- 2 Tablespoons Dijon mustard
- 1 Tablespoon lemon juice
- 1 pound boneless, skinless organic chicken breast
- 1 ½ cups panko bread crumbs
Preheat oven to 400°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
If the chicken breasts are thick, place them between 2 sheets of plastic wrap and using the flat side of a meat pounder, gently pound to an even thickness of about ¾”. Repeat with all the chicken. Cut each chicken breast into strips about ½” wide.
In a shallow bowl, mix the bread crumbs and melted butter.
In a separate bowl, mix the yogurt, Dijon and lemon juice. Dip the chicken strips in the yogurt mixture and then in the bread crumbs, turning to coat evenly. Arrange on the prepared baking sheet.
Bake until the bread crumbs are golden brown and the chicken is cooked through and no longer pink in the center, about 15-20 minutes. Let cool slightly, then serve.
Refrigerate for up to 4 days or freeze for up to 1 month.
Salmon Quinoa Cakes
Makes eight 3” cakes
- ½ cup prepared quinoa
- 10 ounces skinless, boneless wild salmon, finely chopped
- 1 Tablespoon chives, minced
- 1 Tablespoon fresh orange juice
- 1 large egg, lightly beaten
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt
- Canola oil
In a medium bowl, combine the quinoa, salmon, chives, lemon juice, egg, and salt.
Separate into eight portions, and pat each portion into a small cake. (These will seem wet and runny but they’ll firm up a bit in the refrigerator.) Place the salmon cakes on a plate, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for about 10 minutes to set.
In a large frying pan over medium heat, warm 1 Tablespoon oil. Gently add the salmon cakes and cook until golden brown on the first side, about 3 minutes. Turn, adding more oil to the pan if needed to prevent sticking, and cook until the cakes are golden brown on the other side, springy to the touch, and are cooked through in the center, about 2 minutes longer. Let cool slightly, then serve.
Refrigerate for up to 4 days or freeze for up to 1 month.
Morning Glory Mini Muffins
Makes 24 mini muffins
- 1 cup coconut palm sugar, packed
- 1 to 1 1/2 cups white whole wheat flour*
- 1 cup bran flour
- 1 cup oats
- 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon chai spice (optional)
- 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
- 2 teaspoons baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- Zest of one orange
- 1/2 cup shredded coconut
- 3/4 cup raisins
- 1 large granny smith apple, cored and grated (do not peel)
- 1 cup crushed pineapple
- 1 cup peeled, grated carrots
- 1 cup grated zucchini (do not peel)
- 3 large eggs
- ⅓ cup coconut oil
- 1/2 cup canned (plain) pumpkin
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
*King Arthur makes this type of flour, and it is available at most grocery stores.
Preheat the oven to 350°F. Grease a 24-cup mini muffin tin.
In a small bowl, cover the raisins with hot water, and set them aside to soak while you assemble the rest of the recipe.
Using the grater of a food processor, grate and then measure one at a time: zucchini, carrots, apple, and pineapple. Add each to a medium bowl lined with a kitchen towel. When finished grating, gather up the corners of the towel and twist, squeezing out all of the excess liquid into the bowl. Reserve liquid and drained grated ingredients for later.
In a large bowl, whisk together the flours, sugar, baking soda, spices, orange zest, and salt. Stir in the grated ingredients and coconut.
In a separate bowl, beat together the eggs, oil, vanilla, and pumpkin. Add to the flour mixture, and stir until evenly moistened. Drain the raisins and gently stir them in. Depending on the moisture level in the grated ingredients, the batter may be a bit too wet or a bit too dry. Add a bit more flour or a bit of the reserved juices as needed to get the right consistency. Then drink the rest of that yummy juice!
Divide the batter among the wells of the prepared pan. Bake for 18-22 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.
Store in an airtight container for up to 4 days or freeze for up to 2 months.