creative kid snacks

The other day Dave and I were wrangling Lucy at the drug store.

Daddy, look at THIS! I want it!” 

“Mommy, it’s pink! It’s CINDERELLA SHAMPOO! Can I drink it?” 


Dave looks at me. “Why is marketing so damn effective for kids? They are the biggest suckers for advertising EVER.”

It’s true. If you want to see a toddler meltdown, tell them they can’t have that Thomas the Train frisbee. As parents, it’s incredibly frustrating. Sometimes I feel like the companies responsible are suckering me out of my money because they know a pink princess potty will work for toilet training. They know a Dora water bottle will get Little Miss Picky to drink more liquids. They know a Hello Kitty Band Aid will calm the crying after a scraped knee. And even if your kid has never watched television, they somehow know who all these cartoon characters are. Gah!

But what I’ve come to realize is that gimmicks work because kids just don’t want things to be boring. They want something they can identify with, something that’s fun. So as parents, we can totally use this to our advantage.

Take snacking, for example. I have a heck of a time getting Lucy to snack healthy. I’ve tried every trick in the book and she still whines for granola bars and goldfish. But if I make snacks fun—give her an activity within the snack—it works like a charm.

I give you the Peanut Butter Fishin’ Hole. Stick pretzels in a lake of peanut butter (hippie peanut butter—natural with no added sugar), surrounded by dried blueberries.

The sticky peanut butter allows your little one to “fish” for blueberries. I guarantee you’ll hear “Mom! I got one!” over and over. Lucy even asks for this one for breakfast.

Her other favorite? The Hummus Hut. Get architectural with some thick hummus, a few baby carrots and some snap peas.

If your kid’s imagination is anything like Lucy’s, they’ll be making up stories about who lives in the house (for her, it’s a monkey and a sock), how they water the garden, where they park the car, what they eat for dinner…and then their humble abode will be munched to pieces. Poor little hut dwellers.

It’s also fun to make hummus cars using olives or grape tomatoes as wheels. Zoom, zoom.

And the last member of my creative snack arsenal is Nutella Builders. Cut up fruit into different shapes and sizes, add a dollop of Nutella and break apart a few graham crackers.

Give your tiny snacker a child-safe knife for spreading the Nutella (or let them use their fingers if you like) and then watch them get creative with the fruit. Clearly I’m not as inspired as my toddler because I made a happy face. Lucy has been known to create puppies, hospitals and motorcycles. If you don’t have Nutella it’s easy to substitute cream cheese, peanut butter, or even hummus with crackers and chopped veggies.

Your little one doesn’t want anything to be dull, so let them use a little creative energy during snack time. You might even be able to steer them toward healthier, whole foods. Steering them away from that Disney Princess Halloween costume, however? Sorry. Can’t help you there.

What are your tricks to get kids to snack healthy?


peanut butter chocolate chip blondies

Normally there is only one blondie in my life.

Her name is Lucy. She enjoys Play Doh, sunglasses, and tacos. Combs? Not so much.

But recently another blond has come into my life.

And these gooey peanut butter chocolate chip blondies are just as sweet as my walking (read: running), talking (read: broken record), taco-eating tot. The difference is, these you can have for yourself. Lucy is all mine.

To make them for yourself, gather some flour and salt, an egg, one stick of butter, vanilla extract, brown sugar, peanut butter chips and chocolate chips.

Begin by melting the butter in a large bowl. Short bursts in the microwave work just fine.

Once the butter has cooled slightly (too warm and it will cook the egg—no good), add the egg, the vanilla…

…and the brown sugar. Mix until smooth.

Stir in the flour and salt…

…and fold in the chips.

Spread into a 9×9″ pan that’s been greased with butter or sprayed with non-stick cooking spray.

Bake at 350F for about 20 minutes, until slightly browned around the edges but still pale in the center. Let cool completely before slicing (I know, I know. But trust me).

Can a blondie be fudgy? Because that’s exactly the word to describe these gooey, peanut-buttery, chocolately treats that are ready in no time. You must have this blondie in your life. Plus, they require a lot less cleanup than my towheaded toddler.


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Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Blondies

Yield: one 9×9″ pan

Prep Time: 10 minutes Bake Time: 20 minutes

  • 1/2 c (1 stick) butter
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 c brown sugar
  • 1 c flour
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 3/4 c peanut butter chips
  • 3/4 c chocolate chips

1. Preheat oven to 350F.
2. Melt butter and let cool slightly. Stir in the egg, vanilla, and brown sugar and mix until smooth. Stir in the flour and salt. Fold in the chips.
3. Spread into a greased 9×9″ baking pan. Bake for 20-22 minutes until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean (blondies will be slightly brown around the edges but still pale in the center). Let cool completely before slicing.