52 Healthy, Packable Back-to-School and Work Snacks
Alisa Fleming ~ A recent twitter chat on healthy back-to-school and work snacks yielded an amazing amount of ideas. I rounded them up and merged them into this packed-full post of easy energy foods and recipes.
All of the following are dairy-free (though you don’t have to be dairy-free to enjoy them!), and there are many snack options for vegan, gluten-free, paleo, and multiple food allergies, too. Even if you don’t have any food restrictions, you will still find some great back-to-school and work snacks to choose from. Plus, it never hurts to be prepared for any milk-, nut-, or peanut-free policies!
Simple, Healthy and Pre-packaged School & Work Snacks
- Whole Fruit – Known as nature’s original pre-packaged snack, you can’t beat fruit for its portability, nutrients, and wonderful sweet taste. The following fruits were mentioned as favorites for school and work snacks: Bananas, Apples (if sliced, dip in citrus to prevent browning), Peaches, Nectarines, Plums, Grapes, Blueberries, and Raspberries.
- Chopped Fresh Fruit Salad – It will keep for a few hours in your lunch sack, but if you have refrigeration available, even better. Put any of the following in some portable containers: Diced Mango, Pineapple Chunks, Melon Balls (watermelon, honeydew, or cantaloupe), and Kiwi.
- Dried or Dehydrated Fruit – When you need some energy foods with a longer shelf-life, dried fruit comes in very handy. For straight-up snacking, these were the top picks: Blueberries, Raisins, Cranberries, Apricots, and Mulberries.
- All-Natural Bars – For shelf-stable convenience, stash a few of these bars for work snacks: Larabars, Kit’s Organic Bars, Clif Mojo Bars, LUNAbars, and Kind Bars (note that a few flavors of Kind do contain dairy).
- Peanut Butter & Pretzels – You can keep this allergen-free with SunButter and Ener-G pretzels.
- Nut or Seed Butter with Sliced Apples – To up the flavor factor, stir a little cinnamon and/or vanilla into the nut butter. If you’re bored with peanut butter and almond butter, then make your own nut butter with your favorite nuts and/or seeds.
- Hummus with Cut Veggies – Our group voted for baby carrots, celery, and sliced red bell peppers.
- Hummus with Olives and Crackers or Pita Chips – For gluten-free, Mary’s Gone Crackers was a dipping favorite.
- Smashed Avocado with Baby Carrots – To keep the avocado from browning, mash in some lemon or lime juice. You can even season to taste with salt and spices for a quick guacamole-to-go!
- Canned Wild Salmon Salad with Crackers or Lettuce Wraps – Tuna works well, too, but our group liked the salmon for the extra omega-3’s. A couple mentioned enjoying it straight from the can with whole grain crackers, but you might like the salmon salad recipe below instead.
- Hard-Boiled Eggs – Sprinkle with a little salt, pepper, and paprika for a tasty twist.
- Grilled Chicken Breast – Yes, at only 110 calories, 1.5 grams of fat, and with 25 grams of protein, this is one low calorie, protein-packed snack!
- Jerky – Seek out organic and all-natural options if possible. And yes, there is vegan / vegetarian jerky, but see below for a healthier, homemade recipe.
- Trail Mix – It doesn’t get much easier than trail mix. Toss your favorite dried fruits, nuts, and other tasty items (dairy-free chocolate chips anyone?) into some Ziploc baggies and away you go.
- Dates Stuffed with Almonds – I popular Larabar-like snack.
- Figs Stuffed with Hazelnuts – Why should dates have all the fun?
- Yogurt or Kefir – There are now so many dairy-free varieties available! You can even find “Greek” non-dairy yogurt and kefir from companies like So Delicious Dairy Free. For more on dairy-free and vegan yogurt, see my post on How to Substitute Yogurt. Top the yogurt with diced fruit, whole grain cereal, chopped nuts, chia seeds, or ground flax for an extra flavor and nutrition boost.
- Protein Powder – Keep a stash of packets or baggies to mix into water or juice when on-the-go. Brands like My Vega are dairy-free and come in a variety of flavors.
- Graham Crackers – Great for noshing on their own, or you can make cracker-style PB&J sandwiches. Graham Crackers are really tasty and you don’t have to worry about smooshed bread!
- Frozen Mini-Muffins – Pop them in your bag or purse, and they will defrost just in time for the munchies. See below for some healthy mini-muffin recips.
- Dark Chocolate – Enjoy a square or three – it’s healthier than donuts! Recommended brands from the chat included attune probiotic dark chocolate bars and Enjoy Life chocolate chunks, but you can find an abundance of brands in the No Dairy Product Lists.
- Cereal – For super easy kid-friendly and work snacks, pack up to-go containers of your favorite munchable cereals. Have a nice assortment to fit changing appetites. There are many dairy-free and gluten-free cereals available, in addition to granolas and tasty whole grain cereal options.
- Baked or Low Fat Tortilla Chips & Salsa – Did you know there are even gluten-free, fiber-rich bean-based tortilla chips out there?
- Green Smoothies – Grab a thermos, and fill it with a nutrient-dense juice or smoothie. A good quality thermos will keep beverages cool and soups hot for hours.
- Homemade or Store-Bought “Chips” – Apples, bananas, sweet potatoes, beets, even eggplants can be lightly seasoned and dehydrated, baked, or pan-fried into chip form. If you lack the resources, check the snack section in the natural food aisle for some great, healthy varieties.
- Roasted Nuts or Seeds – So easy to make that there’s no point in buying them! Spread 1 lb of your favorite nuts or seeds on a baking sheet and toast them in the oven at 350ºF for 8 to 12 minutes. Remove them from the oven, sprinkle with 1 teaspoon of salt (or season to taste), and let them cool before packing up.
Easy Healthy Recipes for School & Work Snacks
- Mocha Fudge Bites – This is a no sugar added, vegan treat like snack with some get up and go!
- Crispy Kale Chips – This is the basic recipe, but you can spice them up with the flavors of your choice.
- Cheesy Vegan Popcorn – I love leftover popcorn, especially during the dry winter months. You an season it simply with coconut oil and salt, or enjoy this dressed up variation.
- Mint Chocolate Protein Bars – Vegan, wholesome, and sweetened with dates and stevia.
- Sun-Dried Tomato & Thyme Rice Crackers – Why not make your own healthy crackers? It’s easier than you think!
- Mini Sweet Potato & Chocolate Chip Muffins – Naturally vegan and whole grain.
- Healthy Almond Crunch Granola – Just 6 wholesome ingredients in this easy recipe.
- Maple Cereal Clusters – This hearty yet sweet snack is chocolate-free, making it great for packing along on hot days. It is also optionally nut-free.
- Trail Mix Oat Snack Cookies – Heartier and lower in sugar than your average cookie. Can be vegan, gluten-free, and top 8 allergen-free.
- Chocolate Peanut Power Bars – Vegan, and even better than Larabars.
- Sweet & Spicy Roasted Chickpeas – Chickpeas turn into a delicious corn nut-like snack after 30 minutes or so in the oven.
- “Cheesecake” Grahamwiches – A creamy vegan spread to make those graham crackers even more enticing.
- Fabulous Curried Salmon Salad – This is so yummy! Freeze extras into cubes. Pop a few cubes into your lunch sack – they will defrost later, when you’re hungry.
- Trail Mix Mini-Muffins – Another great mini-muffin recipe for freezing and packing along.
- Chocolate Sunbutter Cups – So easy, so tasty, and made for sharing (peanut-free policy-friendly!)
- Coconut Crispy Bars – Think crispy treat meets granola bar.
- Not My Mama’s Chocolate Pudding – The healthiest get up and go chocolate pudding recipe you’ve ever seen. Pack it in a thermos, or freeze it into cubes and pack in tupperware for snacking on later in the day.
- Grapes in a Celery Canoe – Keep snacking fun!
- Dehydrated Seedy Squares – Just fruit, seeds, and so much flavor.
- Spicy Chickpea Dip – Can’t find tahini to make hummus? Skip it with this everyday dip.
- Breakfast-Worthy Banana Bread – Naturally sweetened with no added sugars!
- Colorful Kale Pinwheels – Tortilla roll-ups are another great snack option; this one even packs in some dairy-free, bone-building greens.
- Chocolate-Glazed Strawberry Donuts – Low carb, relativly high in protein, and pretty darn tasty. These will keep you going much longer than the dunkin variety.
- Practically Healthy Doughnuts – Another gluten-free, low sugar snacking donut.
- Veggie-Based “Beef” Jerky – This vegan recipe is surpisingly soy-free and gluten-free.
- Flourless Almond Butter Cookies – A healthier twist on traditional cookies that will satisfy your sweet tooth. You can customize them with add-ins like dried fruit, nuts, or dark chocolate chunks.
For more healthy recipes for back-to-school and work snacks, download the free eCookbook, Smart School Time Recipes.
Thanks to the following foodies for sharing many of these great snack ideas at the #attune twitter chat:
What are your favorite healthy, dairy-free snacks? Do you have any convenient products that you love? Please feel free share your ideas in the comments …