For many of us, childhood snacks are synonymous with childhood itself. They have the ability to take us back to a simpler time and place. And yet, as nostalgic as Gushers and Dunkaroos are (am I dating myself as a ’90s kid?), they aren’t exactly at the top of my list for day-to-day staples. Creating these healthier versions of classic childhood snacks felt as satisfying as popping in a VHS tape to revisit a favorite movie. So, whether you’re planning on using these recipes for a #TBT post or actual children, I hope you enjoy eating them as much as I did making them!
“Dirt” Pudding + Gummy Worms
To me, creative treats like “dirt” pudding capture some of the magic of being a kid. Sure, it’s beyond silly (the word dirt isn’t exactly appetizing), but there’s no denying how delicious it is. And not to get ahead of myself, but perhaps an opportunity to get kids excited about gardening?
1 whole avocado
1 tablespoon maple syrup
¼ cup raw, unsweetened cacao powder
½ cup unsweetened, full-fat coconut milk
Place everything up to the crushed nuts into a food processor and blend until just combined to make one serving (or two depending on if it’s for the little ones!) of avocado mousse.
Spoon into a cleaned, food-safe small pot (or bowl that resembles a planter), then sprinkle with crushed nuts and add gummy worms as garnish. Serve cold or at room temperature, but don’t let it sit out for too long before serving.
Zucchini Pizza Bites
These zucchini pizza bites are a play on one of my all-time favorite childhood snacks: mini pizza bagels. There are plenty of ways to make healthier pizza bagels—like using whole wheat pita, for example—but this option sneaks in some veggies. The best part about this recipe? It’s ridiculously easy and time-efficient.
1 large zucchini, sliced into ¼-inch thick rounds
1 cup unsweetened tomato sauce
6 ounces yogurt cheese, sliced into thin strips
Fresh basil, sliced into thin strips (optional)
Preheat oven to broil, or 400° F.
Place zucchini rounds on a parchment-lined baking sheet.
Divide tomato sauce and cheese evenly across zucchini round.
Place on your highest oven shelf and bake for about 1 to 2 minutes, or until cheese has melted.
Top with basil, to taste and serve—no utensils needed.
Just to be clear, there’s nothing wrong with a classic PB&J, but it was hard to resist making an updated version that was fun to make and to look at. So many of the favorite childhood snacks had a playful element, whether it was the packaging, the colors, or the shapes. In terms of nutrition, I like the idea of swapping in fresh fruit for jelly or jam to cut out added sugar. And the rice cakes add a nice crunch.
Brown rice cakes
Unsweetened nut butter
Shredded coconut (optional)
Evenly coat 2 tablespoons nut butter over each rice cake.
Add fresh fruit in whimsical patterns. (Pro tip: Shredded coconut makes for great whiskers.)
Legit Lunch Snack Pack
Let’s face it: Coming up with a healthier lunch snack pack situation is not rocket science. In fact, the packs of my childhood were pretty much crackers, meat, and cheese. So why were they so popular? Granted crackers, along with meat and cheese are delicious, especially together (sorry to my veggie and vegan homies!), but I think a lot had to do with the presentation: A lunch that looked a little bit like a present with compartments to unpack. There are no veggies in here, but what can I say? I was trying to keep it classic!
Nitrate-free turkey slices
Place ingredients in separate compartments, as desired.