Interviews by Vinayagamoorthy
As mindful parents, we want our kids to consume healthy foods—foods that will help establish excellent lifelong eating habits. As stressed-out human beings, however, sometimes we just need our kids to eat something without complaint. But while that bag of Doritos may avoid a headache in the moment, it causes a bellyache in the long run. That’s why the hunt for healthy-yet-flavorful kid snacks
is a never-ending fruity quest—especially during back-to-school season, when a return to routine can leave a bad taste in your mouth.
Eat This, Not That! rounded up healthy, new-to-the-market, prepackaged snacks that we thought would be perfect for kids — and that grownups will love too. To test our theories, we went to the experts: seven outspoken taste testers, ages 5 to 9.
William Lareti, 9
Mason and Piper Mercier, 9 and 5
Renee and Sophia Gonzalez, 7 and 6
Ben Hammond, 6
Zoë Perrine, 7
Which picks got a thumbs-ups? Let our experts speak:
260 calories, 11 g fat, 5 g saturated, 440 mg sodium, 2 g fiber, 13 g sugar
These bento-like boxes have far less sodium than their competitors, and zero health-harming trans fat.
310 calories, 6 g fat, 0 g saturated, 430 mg sodium, 2 g fiber, 14 g sugar
250 calories, 5.5 g fat, 2.5 g saturated, 510 mg sodium, 4.5 g fiber, 12 g sugar
William: It’s a lot like Lunchables, but I’m not supposed to eat that stuff (even though I trade for it a lot at school). It was really yummy! The cheese pizza was cheesy but there wasn’t any Cheez Whiz. I don’t like fake cheese; you’ve gotta respect the cheese, man! When I eat, I don’t care about the health; I care about the tongue.
Piper: I don’t like chicken nuggets so I ate the pretzels and the Twizzlers [which was actually a CLIF Kid Zfruit organic fruit snack]. I really liked the Twizzlers! I take little bites and go chomp, chomp, chomp. It was better than the cafeteria food at school.
360 calories, 16 g fat, 7 g saturated 730 mg sodium, 2 g fiber, 17 g sugar
The one-two punch of healthy fat and protein will keep your little one full and focused through afternoon classes.
(1 package) 100 calories, 2.5 g fat, 2 g saturated, 10 mg sodium, 2 g fiber, 15 g sugar
Sweetened naturally by its main ingredient, banana puree, it’s how fruit snacks should be done.
William: Oh my God, these are awesome! I want to eat the whole box. The banana and coconut complicate [sic] each other. I asked where I could buy it ’cause I want my mom to get it for me.
60 calories, 0 g fat, 0 g saturated, 15 mg sodium, 2 g fiber, 11 g sugar
Apple and a bounty of berries mask health-boosting carrot in this low-sugar, grab-and-go pouch.
(Everyone grabbed for these pouches)
Mason: I like this flavor better than any other GoGo Squeez flavor! Except maybe cherry.
William: Why’s it called Boulder Berry if it has carrots?
Mason: I don’t know, but I don’t taste the carrots, anyway.
Ben: I think it’s kind of yucky, like sour pickles.
(½ bag) 120 calories, 0 g fat, 0 g saturated, 0 mg sodium, 2 g fiber, 20 g sugar
Other brands dose their dried fruit with added sugar, this one glorifies naturally sweet mango by making it the only ingredient.
Piper: I like dry things and the mangos were dry. This was really tasty. My favorite way to have fruit!
60 calories, 0 g fat, 0 g saturated, 0 mg sodium, 1 g fiber, 11 g sugar
With apple and mango running the show, your kids will never know they’re eating kale.
Renee: I would definitely eat it again! It had vegetables in it and I only like them a little, but they were good here. I thought it would be more like apple, but then it tasted more like mango.
Sophia: I didn’t like my flavor. I only tasted the kiwi, and I don’t like that. I ate it, but I wanted to spit it out. I wish I had the one my sister had.
(1 small bar) 70 calories, 3 g fat, 1 g saturated, 0 mg sodium, 2 g fiber, 4 g sugar
Sweetened with fruits and dates, this bar takes a classic comfort food and supercharges it with nutrition.
Mason: I love bananas, it’s my favorite fruit, but I don’t like things that taste bananas, like banana flavoring. This was gross. It felt weird in my mouth, and I almost threw up and everybody was laughing so hard.
William: I like it! It was like those banana squares I tasted earlier [Matt’s Munchies Banana Coconut]. I think I might be in the mood for bananas.
Renee: It’s good, it tastes like real banana. My sister liked it too. We shared it because that’s more fun.
PROTEIN, PEANUT BUTTER CHOCOLATE
140 calories, 4 g fat, 1.5 g saturated, 95 mg sodium, 22 g carbs, 3 g fiber, 8 g sugar
Clif Bar earns points for keeping sugar low and packing protein in.
Renee: I like chocolate and I like peanut butter a little bit, so mixed together I liked it. Sometimes my mom makes me chocolate and peanut butter sandwiches, and these were that good. I would have these for a snack anytime.
230 calories, 17 g fat, 2.5 g saturated, 125 mg sodium, 3 g fiber, 6 g sugar
With a solid nutritional profile, this snack bar earns a permanent place in the glove compartment.
(12 chips) 140 calories, 7 g fat (1 g saturated), 140 mg sodium, 6 g fiber, 0 g sugar
Protein and a hefty dose of fiber sneak their way into these Doritos-like chips.
Piper: They tasted like French fries, which was so good! It was like a chip-fry! I kept sticking my hand to the bottom to see if there were fries down there.
RED PEPPER HUMMUS AND LENTIL CHIPS
240 calories, 12 g fat, 2.5 g saturated, 390 mg sodium, 4 g fiber, 6 g sugar
Fiber in the chickpeas helps little ones (and adults) feel fuller for longer.
William: It was really good, not too spicy. It comes with a hummus packet and chips, which is a lot more efficient than Sabra. I’ll eat hummus if it’s a choice even though I like to eat stuff like pretzels and bacon cheeseburgers, but we usually eat really healthy at home.
(1 oz) 120 calories, 5 g fat, 1 g saturated fat, 190 mg sodium, 1 g fiber, 2 g sugar
KeenWah Puffs are free of scary neon dyes, low in sodium, and packing a respectable amount of protein for a processed snack.
Zoë: I did not like them! The flavor is really bad, I don’t like how they smell, everything is gross.
William: Actually, I like it. It’s cheesy, what’s not to like?
Ben: It’s like crunchy, cheesy cereal!
(3 Tbsp) 70 calories, 2 g fat, 0 g saturated, 0 mg sodium, 2 g fiber, 1 g sugar
Boost protein without added sugar with this spoonable powder that can be added to cakes, cookies, and other baked goods.
William: It was disgusting! It tasted like spinach—or maybe it was just as bad as spinach. You mix it with water and it’s supposed to be like peanut butter, but it didn’t taste like peanut butter. I kept stirring it again and again but, nada, zip, it didn’t get better.
This flavored yogurt keeps sugar and protein close to a 1:1 ratio, which is key for keeping kids fueled and free of a sugar high.
The blueberry in these tubes comes from the fruit itself, and your kids will get enough protein to see them through gym class.
Peelable and organic, Horizon gives your kids the green light to play with their food.
Just as convenient as pudding, but with a fraction of the sugar and packed with healthy omega-3s.
Dairy products, like this just-sweet-enough yogurt, fortified with vitamin D, help the body absorb bone-protecting calcium.