Strawberry Swimmy Fish

We adapted this recipe from Travis’s latest Kiwi Crate, all about pond life. The original recipe called for Greek yogurt, but you can use non-dairy yogurt in a pinch to make these little fishies vegan!

To start, place graham crackers in a zip-top plastic bag and crush with a rolling pin. Pour the crumbs into a bowl.

Working with 1 strawberry at a time, dip in a little vanilla non-dairy yogurt, then roll in the graham cracker crumbs. Transfer to a plate and add a mini chocolate chip (such as Enjoy Life) as an eye.

Chances are this snack will go down swimmingly!

Fruit Dips

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Veronika doesn’t like to eat yogurt off a spoon, but here’s a fantastic way to introduce the flavor to little ones who might otherwise be hesitant: turn it into a dip!

In general, toddlers love to dip food and this snack plays right into that desire. I set out a plate for her with a variety of cut up fruits, including strawberries, nectarine, oranges, green grapes, apple, banana, and pineapple. I wasn’t aiming for a full rainbow (although you could!), but we did hit nearly every hue from ROYGBIV.

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Next, I cut plastic straws into short pieces and then poked a straw piece into each fruit cube. Spoon a little vanilla non-dairy yogurt directly into the center of the plate. Time to dip!

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Veronika loved that she was in charge of this snack. Sometimes she would dip a fruit piece in and eat fruit and yogurt together. Sometimes she used the fruit more like a spoon for the yogurt, scooping it up and licking off. Apple pieces were her favorite for this particular method.

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I had one very happy little snacker.

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Apple Smiles

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This is a cute snack to make either before or after a visit to the dentist; it helps make things silly and not scary for toddlers!

To prepare the apple smiles, spread a wedge of unpeeled red apple with a little peanut butter. Add 3 mini Dandies marshmallows, then spread a second wedge of apple with peanut butter and place on top.

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Not only do these make a tasty snack and a chance to point out those shiny white teeth, but you can do more with it than that! We had an extra toothbrush and Veronika loved “brushing” the apple smiles to help them get clean. The peanut butter really will make the marshmallows a bit mucky and stained, adding a touch of verisimilitude. “Let’s brush off all that peanut butter,” she said so proudly, helping the apple smile get clean and bright.

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So a snack plus a quick lesson! Just make sure you brush real teeth after eating those sugary marshmallows.

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Bread Roll Puppets

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Today, Travis had full permission to play with his food because we turned a bread roll into a puppet!

To start, I showed Travis how to make a “smile” in a French bread roll by cutting a slit in the middle like a mouth.

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Poke two additional holes above the mouth with a butter knife to be the eyes. We filled these with chocolate chips, although raisins might have worked better.

For a silly tongue, fold up your favorite meatless deli slice (like Tofurky), and insert into the mouth.

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Let the showtime begin! Travis immediately began both eating the puppet and being silly with it, squeezing so the mouth could move. The rolls were so delicious that the puppet didn’t last long! But if you manage to slow your hungry kids down, arrange the rolls on a plate with basil or lettuce leaves as hair for a cute photo-op first.

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Chocolate Pomegranate Dip

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Sneak a little pomegranate into your family’s repertoire with this yummy snack dip!

Ingredients:

  • 1 package dairy-free chocolate pudding mix
  • 1 and 1/2 cups oat milk
  • 1 cup non-dairy sour cream
  • 1/3 cup pomegranate juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon orange zest
  1. Combine the pudding mix and oat milk in the bowl of a stand mixer and beat until blended.
  2. Add the remaining ingredients and beat to combine. Transfer to a bowl, cover, and chill for 1 hour.

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We love this served with fresh fruit like orange segments for dipping! You can also dunk in slices of pound cake. Or just eat it up with a spoon!

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Reindeer Mix

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Really this is just an ordinary snack mix that you could make any time of year. But if you tell your kids it’s “Reindeer Mix”, all of a suddenly ordinary becomes extraordinary!

Ingredients:

  • 3 tablespoons Earth Balance butter
  • 3 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon minced fresh thyme
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 cup almonds
  • 1 cup walnuts
  • 2 cups pretzel twists
  • 1 cup Puffins cereal
  • 1/2 cup dried cranberries
  • 1/2 cup vegan white chocolate chips
  1. Combine the butter, brown sugar, thyme, salt, and cinnamon in a small saucepan. Cook over low heat for about 3 minutes, just until the butter melts and the sugar dissolves.
  2. Arrange the almonds and walnuts on a baking sheet lined with foil and pour half of the brown sugar mixture over the nuts, tossing to coat. Bake at 375 degrees F for 7 minutes.
  3. Toss the pretzels with the remaining brown sugar mixture. Add to the baking sheet and bake for a final 3 minutes. Let cool for 30 minutes.
  4. Transfer the nut mixture to a large bowl and add the cereal, dried cranberries, and white chocolate, stirring to combine.

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Be sure to snack on this mix while you track the reindeer and Santa across the sky on Christmas Eve!

Candy-Less Canes

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Confession: we’ve probably eaten way too many sugary candy canes this holiday season. So it was time to put a healthier spin on this favorite holiday treat!

Over two afternoons, we had fun making faux candy canes with red-and-white foods. First up was a fruit version. I sliced strawberries and bananas and set them on a cutting board, then challenged Travis to arrange them like a candy cane (or as Veronika calls it, a “minty”).

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He quickly got the hang of it, and then both kids loved devouring this trompe l’oiel snack.

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Needless to say, the red stripes (a.k.a. strawberries) didn’t last long.

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The next day it was time for a savory spin on the treat! This time I set out piles of sliced tomato and vegan feta cheese. Travis again quickly figured out how to line them up like candy cane stripes.

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And the kids quickly polished it off for a snack! What foods would you use for a pretend candy cane? Please share in the comments!

Baked Pita Chips

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These easy homemade chips are a delicious alternative to store-bought ones, and perfect for dipping in hummus.

Ingredients:

  • 3 whole wheat pitas
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1/4 teaspoon garlic salt
  1. Brush the olive oil evenly over the pitas, coating both sides.
  2. Cut each pita into 8 wedges and transfer to a baking sheet. Sprinkle evenly with the garlic salt.
  3. Bake at 400 degrees F for 6 minutes, just until browned.

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Popcorn Reef

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If your kids like to play with their food, permission is granted with this fun food-art-meets-snack.

To start, pop 4 cups plain popcorn; set aside in a large bowl.

Meanwhile, melt 1 tablespoon Earth Balance butter in the microwave. Add 1 and 1/2 cups mini marshmallows (such as Dandies) to the bowl. Microwave for 1 minute until the marshmallows are melting, and whisk to combine.

Pour the marshmallow mixture over the plain popcorn. Add a few drops of food coloring for pink coral! Once the mixture cools enough to handle, turn out onto wax paper and shape into mini coral reefs. We had some big blobs that looked a bit like brain coral, and some that was more like branched coral!

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For fish, place an orange slice on each plate. Add slices of carrot for tail fins and a mouth, and blueberries for the fish’s eye (plus a few extra bubbles!).

Tricked-Out Treats

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There aren’t any neighborhood Halloween parties this year since big gatherings are a no-no, but that doesn’t mean you can’t surprise your little goblins with a party platter of tricked-out treats. To wit, we’re getting a little batty with our snacks as we get closer to Halloween. And ghosty, and spidery, and owlish, too!

For spiders, cut kiwi into rounds and arrange 8 pretzel pieces around each circle as legs.

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For ghosts, cut mini cucumbers in half lengthwise. Cut out small pieces of non-dairy cheddar slices for eyes and mouths.

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For vampire bats, spread water crackers with guacamole. Place each cracker over two blue corn tortilla chips for wings. Use additional corners of tortilla chip for fangs, and pieces of non-dairy cheddar for eyes.

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At dessert, it was time for some sweet-not-spooky owls!

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Trim rice crispy treats (such as Made Good) along one edge to form two triangles. Spread with your favorite vegan vanilla frosting, then add two creme-filled cookies (such as Newman O’s) as eyes. We had some sleepy owls and some that were wide awake! Add an almond for a beak, and your little owls are ready!

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No tricks here, just delicious treats that had the kids smiling.

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