When the heat of summer hit, lunch as a daily ritual kind of fell through the cracks at our house. All I want to eat in the middle of the day is iced coffee. All my kids want to eat is popsicles.
I make homemade popsicles out of all fruit and milk, so there’s no shame in eating them for lunch, or even breakfast. If you live in a hot place and haven’t gotten a popsicle mold yet, go order one right now. Lifesavers, I’m telling you.
But that’s not what I came here to tell you about. There’s no surprise to popsicles as a kid snack. It’s a no-brainer. No, today I want to tell you about seaweed.
I like to make a nice sushi dinner every now and then, and my girl would always try to steal the nori sheets while I was rolling. It didn’t occur to me to just buy her seaweed as a staple snack, that stuff is so expensive, and she can eat a LOT of it. Like, is it okay to let your three year old eat 4…5…6 sheets of nori? But it became a ritual indulgence for long trips, among the fancy snacks of distraction, I would always pack some seaweed.
Then when summer hit this year, a friend gave us a big bag of individually packaged seaweed snacks she’d gotten from the Asian market. They were a smash hit with the kids, as usual, and so handy to throw into the diaper bag. You know how a special snack can diffuse all kinds of otherwise unpleasant situations with kids? Seaweed is that snack for mine.
So I finally got it through my thick head that jesus christ, if they like the stuff that much, and it’s so ridiculously healthy, why was I not buying it on a regular basis? I gave in and bought the monster pack of nori wrappers, fully expecting that after a few weeks the thrill would wear off.
It was about the same time that I gave into cheese-sticks. For some reason even though my kids won’t eat cut up pieces of cheese, if anyone waved a cheese-stick in their face they went crazy. And as their appetites declined with the heat, I felt like they needed those little protein shots.
I’ll tell you what wore off. It was not the seaweed. The cheese-sticks quickly became old hat, but the seaweed kept it’s magic spell. They think it’s candy. It packs beautifully as long as you keep it in a good zip-lock, and it does not turn into a puddle of disgusting mold if you forget it in your purse. I consider it a “recreational snack,” it occupies kids for a good chunk of time without filling them up. Which is very handy sometimes, like when it’s almost dinner time and they want something to eat. A perfect snack to take to restaurants, in case you ever brave those things.
The only downside is the skunky seaside after-breath.
This little ode to seaweed is not to gloat (well, maybe a little) but rather to encourage everyone to give it a try. Plenty of kids don’t want anything to do with seaweed. I myself tried for years to like it, and could just never come around. My kids aren’t the only ones though, I’ve seen it before. Some kids really love the stuff. So even if you don’t, buy a little pack and just give them the opportunity. You might be surprised.
I also had a brief liaison with sardines. The responsibly fished kind are too expensive for regular snack status, and that whole big disposable can for five bites of food makes me sad. But the kids loved them. Baby fish in a cute can? What could be better. My kids both love fish, in general, and basically any kind of seafood. Which is another thing that’s surprised me. I grew up with a fish hater mom, and didn’t like it myself until I was an adult. But as it turns out, kids loving fish is actually pretty common.
The other unexpected thing I have found that kids sometimes really love is sprouts. I used to have some little friends who would eat handfuls of sprouts, straight out of the container. Mine aren’t interested, yet. I’ll try them again in a few months. But if you’re lucky enough to have one of those kids, wouldn’t you want to know?
Other snacks we depend on are apples, frozen blueberries, and hard-boiled eggs. All other fruits are hit or miss with my kids. Sometimes they love peaches or bananas, then they won’t touch them for weeks. Such unreliable behavior does not float with perishable fruits, so I mostly stick with apples. Plus, I can save the uneaten halves in the fridge for cooking with. Frozen blueberries, by the way, are the bomb if you have a toddler with tooth troubles. Cut big blueberries in half or even quarters for little ones.
What are y’alls favorite kid snacks? Any surprises?