Interviews by Raven Snook
As mindful parents, we want our kids to consume healthy foods—foods that will help establish excellent lifelong eating habits. As stressed-out human beings, however, sometimes we just need our kids to eat something without complaint. But while that bag of Doritos may avoid a headache in the moment, it causes a bellyache in the long run. That’s why the hunt for healthy-yet-flavorful kid snacks is a never-ending fruity quest—especially during back-to-school season, when a return to routine can leave a bad taste in your mouth.
Eat This, Not That! rounded up healthy, new-to-the-market, prepackaged snacks that we thought would be perfect for kids — and that grownups will love too. To test our theories, we went to the experts: seven outspoken taste testers, ages 5 to 9.
William Lareti, 9
Mason and Piper Mercier, 9 and 5
Renee and Sophia Gonzalez, 7 and 6
Ben Hammond, 6
Zoë Perrine, 7
Which picks got a thumbs-ups? Let our experts speak:
Revolution Foods Jet Pack On-the-Go Lunchbox Turkey and Cheddar
260 calories, 11 g fat, 5 g saturated, 440 mg sodium, 2 g fiber, 13 g sugar
These bento-like boxes have far less sodium than their competitors, and zero health-harming trans fat.
Revolution Foods Jet Pack On-the-Go Lunchbox Popcorn Chicken
310 calories, 6 g fat, 0 g saturated, 430 mg sodium, 2 g fiber, 14 g sugar
Revolution Foods Jet Pack On-the-Go Lunchbox Cheese Pizza
250 calories, 5.5 g fat, 2.5 g saturated, 510 mg sodium, 4.5 g fiber, 12 g sugar
William: It’s a lot like Lunchables, but I’m not supposed to eat that stuff (even though I trade for it a lot at school). It was really yummy! The cheese pizza was cheesy but there wasn’t any Cheez Whiz. I don’t like fake cheese; you’ve gotta respect the cheese, man! When I eat, I don’t care about the health; I care about the tongue.
Piper: I don’t like chicken nuggets so I ate the pretzels and the Twizzlers [which was actually a CLIF Kid Zfruit organic fruit snack]. I really liked the Twizzlers! I take little bites and go chomp, chomp, chomp. It was better than the cafeteria food at school.
Applegate Half Time Ham and Cheese Box
360 calories, 16 g fat, 7 g saturated 730 mg sodium, 2 g fiber, 17 g sugar
The one-two punch of healthy fat and protein will keep your little one full and focused through afternoon classes.
Matt’s Munchies Banana Coconut
(1 package) 100 calories, 2.5 g fat, 2 g saturated, 10 mg sodium, 2 g fiber, 15 g sugar
Sweetened naturally by its main ingredient, banana puree, it’s how fruit snacks should be done.
William: Oh my God, these are awesome! I want to eat the whole box. The banana and coconut complicate [sic] each other. I asked where I could buy it ’cause I want my mom to get it for me.
GoGo Squeez, Boulder Berry
60 calories, 0 g fat, 0 g saturated, 15 mg sodium, 2 g fiber, 11 g sugar
Apple and a bounty of berries mask health-boosting carrot in this low-sugar, grab-and-go pouch.
(Everyone grabbed for these pouches)
Mason: I like this flavor better than any other GoGo Squeez flavor! Except maybe cherry.
William: Why’s it called Boulder Berry if it has carrots?
Mason: I don’t know, but I don’t taste the carrots, anyway.
Ben: I think it’s kind of yucky, like sour pickles.
Peeled Snacks Much-Ado-About- Mango
(½ bag) 120 calories, 0 g fat, 0 g saturated, 0 mg sodium, 2 g fiber, 20 g sugar
Other brands dose their dried fruit with added sugar, this one glorifies naturally sweet mango by making it the only ingredient.
Piper: I like dry things and the mangos were dry. This was really tasty. My favorite way to have fruit!
Happy Squeeze Twist Apple, Kale and Mango
60 calories, 0 g fat, 0 g saturated, 0 mg sodium, 1 g fiber, 11 g sugar
With apple and mango running the show, your kids will never know they’re eating kale.
Renee: I would definitely eat it again! It had vegetables in it and I only like them a little, but they were good here. I thought it would be more like apple, but then it tasted more like mango.
Sophia: I didn’t like my flavor. I only tasted the kiwi, and I don’t like that. I ate it, but I wanted to spit it out. I wish I had the one my sister had.
Go Raw Banana Bread Flax Bar
(1 small bar) 70 calories, 3 g fat, 1 g saturated, 0 mg sodium, 2 g fiber, 4 g sugar
Sweetened with fruits and dates, this bar takes a classic comfort food and supercharges it with nutrition.
Mason: I love bananas, it’s my favorite fruit, but I don’t like things that taste bananas, like banana flavoring. This was gross. It felt weird in my mouth, and I almost threw up and everybody was laughing so hard.
William: I like it! It was like those banana squares I tasted earlier [Matt’s Munchies Banana Coconut]. I think I might be in the mood for bananas.
Renee: It’s good, it tastes like real banana. My sister liked it too. We shared it because that’s more fun.
Clif Kid ZBar
Protein, Peanut Butter Chocolate
140 calories, 4 g fat, 1.5 g saturated, 95 mg sodium, 22 g carbs, 3 g fiber, 8 g sugar
Clif Bar earns points for keeping sugar low and packing protein in.
Renee: I like chocolate and I like peanut butter a little bit, so mixed together I liked it. Sometimes my mom makes me chocolate and peanut butter sandwiches, and these were that good. I would have these for a snack anytime.
Larabar Uber Mixed Roasted Nut
230 calories, 17 g fat, 2.5 g saturated, 125 mg sodium, 3 g fiber, 6 g sugar
With a solid nutritional profile, this snack bar earns a permanent place in the glove compartment.
Beanitos Nacho Cheese
(12 chips) 140 calories, 7 g fat (1 g saturated), 140 mg sodium, 6 g fiber, 0 g sugar
Protein and a hefty dose of fiber sneak their way into these Doritos-like chips.
Piper: They tasted like French fries, which was so good! It was like a chip-fry! I kept sticking my hand to the bottom to see if there were fries down there.
Mediterranean Snacks Tapaz 2 Go
Red Pepper Hummus and Lentil Chips
240 calories, 12 g fat, 2.5 g saturated, 390 mg sodium, 4 g fiber, 6 g sugar
Fiber in the chickpeas helps little ones (and adults) feel fuller for longer.
William: It was really good, not too spicy. It comes with a hummus packet and chips, which is a lot more efficient than Sabra. I’ll eat hummus if it’s a choice even though I like to eat stuff like pretzels and bacon cheeseburgers, but we usually eat really healthy at home.
KeenWah Puffs, Cheddar
(1 oz) 120 calories, 5 g fat, 1 g saturated fat, 190 mg sodium, 1 g fiber, 2 g sugar
KeenWah Puffs are free of scary neon dyes, low in sodium, and packing a respectable amount of protein for a processed snack.
Zoë: I did not like them! The flavor is really bad, I don’t like how they smell, everything is gross.
William: Actually, I like it. It’s cheesy, what’s not to like?
Ben: It’s like crunchy, cheesy cereal!
JIF Peanut Powder
(3 Tbsp) 70 calories, 2 g fat, 0 g saturated, 0 mg sodium, 2 g fiber, 1 g sugar
Boost protein without added sugar with this spoonable powder that can be added to cakes, cookies, and other baked goods.
William: It was disgusting! It tasted like spinach—or maybe it was just as bad as spinach. You mix it with water and it’s supposed to be like peanut butter, but it didn’t taste like peanut butter. I kept stirring it again and again but, nada, zip, it didn’t get better.
YOGURT AND CHEESE
Chobani Grape and Strawberry – with Spiderman
(grape) 100 calories, 2 g fat, 1 g saturated, 40 mg sodium, 0 g fiber, 10 g sugar
This flavored yogurt keeps sugar and protein close to a 1:1 ratio, which is key for keeping kids fueled and free of a sugar high.
Ben: I liked the strawberry yogurt except for the crunchy part in it. I would eat it if my mommy picked the crunchy chunks out for me. I think Spider-Man would eat it because he’s on the pouch, but I think the Joker should be on the package.
William: It’s good and creamy. I usually like to eat yogurt the old-fashioned way with a spoon, but I can deal with sucking it from a pouch.
Zoë: It tastes like medicine—grape-flavored medicine!
Siggi’s Blueberry Tubes
50 calories, 1 g fat, 1 g saturated, 30 mg sodium, 0 g fiber, 5 g sugar
The blueberry in these tubes comes from the fruit itself, and your kids will get enough protein to see them through gym class.
Zoë: I liked the blueberry yogurt tubes. The flavor was really calm, and I liked how it tastes. I barely had one but it was really fulling [sic]. It felt squishy and I love squishy foods.
Horizon Organic Mozzarella String Cheese
(1 stick) 80 calories, 6 g fat, 3.5 g saturated, 200 mg sodium, 0 g fiber, 0 g sugar
Peelable and organic, Horizon gives your kids the green light to play with their food.
Zoë: I have string cheese a lot. I like the taste. I don’t usually pull it apart like other kids because it’s better in bites. Only special kids like string cheese.
Ben: I like string cheese, so this was yummy. I like healthy and unhealthy foods, because I like Oreos, too, but this was good and I’m glad it’s healthy.
Chia Pod Vanilla Bean
(1 pod) 160 calories, 11 g fat, 6 g saturated fat, 20 mg sodium, 6 g fiber, 7 g fiber
Just as convenient as pudding, but with a fraction of the sugar and packed with healthy omega-3s.
Piper: It was dee-sgusting! The little beans were so bad. I liked them when I was a little girl, but now that I’m big I don’t. I ate it, but then I had mango so I wouldn’t have to taste the beans anymore.
Mason: It’s seriously gross.
Zoë: I actually think it tastes like Jell-O! It’s squishy stuff. It felt weird but the flavor was good.
Yoplait Plenti Spiced Apple
(1 container) 140 calories, 1.5 g fat, 0 g saturated fat, 50 mg sodium, 1 g fiber, 12 g sugar
Dairy products, like this just-sweet-enough yogurt, fortified with vitamin D, help the body absorb bone-protecting calcium.
Renee and Sophia: (together) I didn’t like it!
Renee: There was a little piece of apple in it and I didn’t like that, and the other stuff in it was yucky. I thought it would be more like applesauce. It was a little spicy, too.
Annie’s Organic Grass Fed Classic Mild Cheddar Macaroni & Cheese
(1 cup, prepared) 280 calories, 5 g fat, 2.5 g saturated fat 520 mg sodium 3 g fiber 5 g sugar
Made with organic and grass-fed dairy, this mac & cheese is the next best thing to homemade.
The Sneaky Chef Veggie Pasta
(2 oz dry) 200 calories, 1 g fat, 0 g saturated fat, 0 mg sodium, 6 g fiber, 2 g sugar
Whole grains and a plethora of veggie concentrates take center stage in this stealthy white pasta.
Bolthouse Farms Kids Veggie Snackers, Carrot Meets Ranch
(2.25 oz package) 25 calories, 0 g fat, 0 g saturated fat, 200 mg sodium, 2 g fiber, 4 g sugar
The Cool Ranch Dorito taste your kid craves, but with all the nutrition he needs—and none of the scary additives.
MorningStar Farms Garden Veggie Nuggets
(5 nuggets) 160 calories, 10 g fat, 1 g saturated, 340 mg sodium, 6 g fiber, 3 g sugar
These veggie-, quinoa- and bean-filled bites make a healthy swap for standard chicken nuggets.
Wholly Guacamole Classic 100 Cal Minis
(1 mini cup) 100 calories, 9 g fat, 1.5 g saturated fat, 200 mg sodium, 3 g fiber, 0 g sugar
Pair veggie sticks with this far healthier, on-the-go ranch-dressing replacement.
Mason: It wasn’t too spicy, it was just smooth, good guacamole. I ate it with a spoon; it was that good! And there was a lot of it, too.
Eat Well Embrace Life Hummus, Black Bean
(2 Tbsp) 40 calories, 2 g fat, 0 g saturated fat, 105 mg sodium, 2 g fiber
Sneak flavor and satiating fiber and protein into lunchbox sandwiches with this bean-based spread.
(Everyone grabbed for this)
Mason: (smelling it before tasting): If there’s something suspicious, I always sniff it. So I was smelling it. But it’s pretty good. It’s not too spicy or I wouldn’t have it.
Renee: The only way I like carrots is to put them in hummus like this.
Hint Mango Grapefruit Water
(16 fl oz) 0 calories, 0 g fat, 0 mg sodium, 0 g protein
Hint is free of sweeteners and chemicals found in other tricked-out water beverages.
Outshine Fruit & Veggie Bars, Apple Greens
60 calories, 0 g fat, 0 g saturated fat, 0 mg sodium, 1 g fiber, 13 g sugar
These frozen pops are light in calories and sugar and filled with a fair share of the day’s vitamin C.
Oatmega Brownie Crisp
190 calories, 7 g fat, 2 g saturated fat, 120 mg sodium, 7 g fiber, 5 g sugar
The grass-fed whey protein and fiber keep kids satisfied while the chocolaty flavor tantalizes their taste buds.
Ben: I like the smell and taste of mint. The mint one was yummy, but I didn’t like the brownie flavor as much.
Zoë: Me neither. The flavor combined wasn’t really yummy. Also, outside it was squishy
and inside it was hard. The mint flavor was better. I love mint! I eat mint in everything, even raw mint leaves.
Lucy’s Lemon Goodness Gluten Free Cookies
(3 cookies) 120 calories, 4.5 g fat, 1 g saturated fat, 170 mg sodium, 1 g fiber, 9g sugar
Light on sugar but not taste, these zesty (and nut-free) cookies make a solid addition to any home-packed lunch.
Zoë: I loved them! I’ve never eaten a cookie I didn’t like ever, but these were my second
favorite cookies after M&M’s/chocolate chip cookies, which are the best. I like how soft it was. Even though these cookies are healthy, I still like them.
Yasso SeaSalt Caramel Frozen Yogurt Candy Bars
(1 bar) 150 calories, 8 g fat, 7 g saturated fat, 45 mg sodium, 1 g fiber, 12 g sugar
Made with more Greek yogurt than sugar, this frozen treat is one you can feel good about giving your kid.