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How many times have you fed your kid a snack, just to have them ask you for food? I know, this is super annoying! Plus, it seems to happen all of the time. We feed them some animal crackers or fishy crackers and next thing you know, they are asking for another snack!
Many “snacks” are full of carbohydrates. Which is awesome, that’s where kids get their energy. It’s quick energy though. Processed snacks like crackers are even quicker energy. The kids burn through them fast.
The key to decreasing constant hunger is by adding fat and protein foods for kids to their snack. The fat slows down the absorption of the carbohydrates and leads to feeling full for longer. The protein and fat both are long-lasting energy sources. Once you start offering all three at meals and snacks, you may find that your kids stop complaining about being hungry so much.
One of my favorite ways to make a filling snack is to pair the veggies or fruits from your Veggie Exposure Shopping List with a filling dip. Veggies and fruits are amazing and important, but they actually aren’t that filling. They are mostly carbohydrates (and fiber). That’s where dip comes in. If you add in a dip, it does 3 things. It adds:
- A fun element
Sometimes dips for kids alone can help them to try veggies! Sometimes kids just use their fruits and veggies as a spoon to lick off the dip. That’s okay too! At least they are touching the veggies. Which is a huge step toward trying them! Here are the 5 most filling dips to keep your kiddos fueled up.
1. Natural Peanut Butter or Sunflower Butter
I’m not going to lie, this is the go-to protein foods for kids in our house. Natural peanut butter, or really any nut or seed butter (sunflower, pepita, almond, cashew, you name it), is very filling and is great as a protein dip for kids. It’s got loads of healthy fats and protein. Here are some classic pairings. You sub in your favorite “butter” to these:
- Apples and peanut butter
- Celery and peanut butter
- Peanut butter and banana
And then there are these newer delicious and filling pairings:
- Peanut butter-filled dates
- Carrots and peanut butter
- Pears and peanut butter
Safety note: Big globs of nut butter are safe for kids around 4 years old. If you want to serve nut butters younger than that, it’s great spread thinly on bread to prevent choking.
Did you know you can make your own nut butters in a high speed blender? You can, which is amazing for making mixed nut butters and seed butters like pepita butter. It can be really tricky though! It was definitely the hardest thing I’ve made in the blender yet. I think if I practiced a lot I could get really good at it. As hard as it was, I still remember how delicious the cinnamon almond, pecan, walnut butter was. It is a really great addition on top of my pink pancake recipe!
Hummus is the easiest thing to buy and very easy to make as well and a great protein filled food for kids. Hummus is backed with protein from chickpeas and healthy fats from olive oil. It’s really filling and works great to fill out a carb-heavy snack. Plus, it’s something kids may see at parties, and serving it at home helps get them familiar with it.
Here are some hummus ideas:
- Hummus and raw broccoli and carrots (raw carrot sticks are safe for kids ages 4 and up, can serve lightly cooked below age 4)
- Hummus and whole grain crackers
- Hummus and cauliflower, jicama, and snap peas
If you want to make your own hummus, mix the following ingredients into a food processor (you can also try in a blender, but I haven’t had as much luck that way). Basically, you need chickpeas, lemon, sesame tahini, garlic, olive oil, and salt. The quantities are totally up to you! Here’s a starting place though.
1 can chickpeas
¼ cup lemon juice
¼ cup tahini
1 clove garlic (minced or smashed)
2 Tablespoons olive oil
Mix everything together in a food processor and process until it’s smooth. It may take a while. If it’s not quite smooth enough, you can add some water or more olive oil. Also, taste it and see if you want to add any more of anything. After you’ve made it a time or two, you can mix things up and keep trying until it’s perfect to your kiddo’s taste buds.
3. Greek Yogurt Dip
If your kid loves creamy dips, this is the way to go. Plain yogurt has a lot of protein in it. Greek yogurt has a TON of protein in it. Either is fine, but Greek yogurt will be more filling. I choose full-fat organic yogurt when I can. The full-fat part means that I’m adding fat to the snack.
Plain yogurt can be a good starting place. If you want to serve it plain, it’s best to pair it with a sweet fruit, so that the sweetness from the fruit adds some sweetness to the yogurt. Apples and sweet pears can sometimes balance out the sourness of the yogurt.
½ cup full-fat Greek yogurt
½ to 1 Tablespoon of Trader Joe’s Onion Salt (alternatives include Ranch dressing mix, onion salt, or a combination of onion powder and garlic powder)
This goes great with raw veggies like celery, carrots, broccoli, snap peas, and cauliflower. Basically any veggie that your kids might like raw. It also goes great with whole grain crackers, pita chips, and probably plantain chips (although I’ve not tried that yet).
When your kiddo isn’t into savory ranch-style dips, you can try a sweet dip!
½ cup full-fat Greek yogurt
Small splash of vanilla
1 tsp maple syrup or honey
Sprinkle of cinnamon
This sweet protein dip recipe for kids is perfect for apples, bananas, strawberries, blueberries, pears. Again, any type of fruit that your kiddo likes, but that you want to add more fat and calories to. Maybe your kid also likes vegetables with a touch of sweetness. I don’t ask questions about what pairings my kiddos make. Whatever makes them happy to eat their veggies.
4. Avocado Dip
The last dip is packed full of healthy fats, fiber and has a bit of protein. Avocado only has a bit of protein foods for kids, but you can increase it by adding hemp hearts to the dip. There are so many ways to make avocado dip. Here are a few of them.
Great for raw veggies and whole grain crackers and breads. There are a million recipes for guac out there. I have 1 easy guacamole recipe hack.
1 avocado, mashed
2-4 Tablespoons salsa or pico de gallo
Mix it up and you’re done. Not fancy, but eeeeeeeasy.
Here’s another guacamole kid’s dip recipe that’s delicious, and also a bit more work.
2 avocados, mashed
1-2 Tablespoons of small diced shallot
Juice of 1 lime
½ bunch of cilantro, chopped small
Salt to taste (optional)
Mix it up and enjoy. This one is really nice for things like fish, eggs, and other “grown up” pairings (food isn’t just about the kids, right?)
Avocado Ranch Dip
For those kiddos who don’t do dairy, avocado is a great alternative.
1 avocado, mashed
1-2 Tablespoons of Trader Joe’s Onion Salt (alternatives include Ranch dressing mix, onion salt, or a combination of onion powder and garlic powder)
Mix it up and serve it just like ranch dip. You can add some lemon, lime or water if you want the consistency to be thinner.
Which of these dips will your kiddo like? Are you having trouble getting your kiddo to eat veggies? If so, you may find my Veggie Exposure Shopping List & Menu Template useful!