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10 plant-based, kid-friendly snacks for back-to-school season

Finding quick and healthy snacks can be a challenge. An easy solution is batch prepping tasty plant-based snacks with minimal ingredients that can last the entire week ahead.

You may have set a goal this school year to provide your kids with healthier snacks in their lunchboxes, or already stocked up for your children's after-school snacks at home. While this goal is honourable and wise, being a parent typically means being pressed for time, and finding quick and healthy snacks can be a challenge. An easy solution is batch-prepping tasty plant-based snacks with minimal ingredients that can last the entire week ahead.

Thistle selected 10 vegan, nut-free, and kid-friendly snacks that are easy to pack as a new academic year is starting. Some don't even require you to cook.

Providing your child with plant-based options can help improve health. According to one study on children's eating habits, plant-based diets showed a reduced risk of obesity and cardiovascular disease, though children who are fully on vegan diets require well-planned meals so they are not deficient in vitamin B12 and iron, among other nutrients.

Here are 10 plant-based snacks to whip up for your kids right at home.

Easy chia pudding

Instead of fruit-flavoured yogurt loaded with added sugars, these easy chia puddings can be made in all kinds of flavours such as chocolate, vanilla, berry, and peanut butter. Chia seed puddings work with any plant-based milk and can be made sweet with natural sugars like maple syrup, honey, coconut sugar, and agave nectar.

Chia seeds are a powerful source of omega-3 fatty acids, which are important for brain development and function, immunity, heart health, and weight management.

All-fruit bars

If you prefer to skip the packaged fruit bars full of added sugars and preservatives, you can easily make a batch with this homemade fruit bars recipe. These bars can be made in three variations—cranberry walnut, tropical with dried pineapple and mango, or chocolate mocha.

Each of these bars is naturally sweetened using dates, which have brain-boosting properties thanks to the various antioxidants in the fruit that reduce inflammation.

Thumbprint cookies

These soft thumbprint cookies are so tasty, that you won't believe they're also gluten-free, refined sugar-free, vegan, and oil-free.

This recipe calls for aquafaba, the liquid typically drained from a can of chickpeas or a bowl of soaked chickpeas. Whip the aquafaba like a meringue, and fold it into the base cookie mixture, which includes oats for fibre and almond flour for vitamin E. When the cookies are finished, fill them with the flavour your children enjoy best—strawberry, hazelnut chocolate, or salted caramel.

Berry pop tart

Your child's go-to after-school toaster pastry just got much healthier thanks to this Vegan Berry Pop Tart recipe. The recipe calls for seven ingredients and makes up to six tarts, making it an easy snack to batch prep for the busy week ahead.

While a typical Pop Tart contains around 15 grams of sugar—30 grams per serving, which is two pastries per package—each homemade tart only has 3.5 grams of sugar, naturally sweetened with frozen berries and a touch of raw sugar. The pastries are topped with a vanilla glaze, but you could skip it and just do an egg wash on top of each pastry with a light sugar dusting. Or leave it as is.

Crispy treats

These Vegan Rice Krispie Treats are a plant-based twist on a classic favourite. This recipe simply swaps out butter and marshmallows for plant-based versions, with a touch of vanilla extract for flavour, giving it that extra something special.

Keep in mind that Rice Krispies are not vegan, so to truly make this a vegan dish, the recipe recommends using a vegan version of the cereal.

Nut-free, no-bake energy balls

These nut-free, no-bake energy balls are perfect for busy parents. They require no actual cooking and call for minimal ingredients, yet make a large enough batch to last the rest of the week. These energy balls are made with oats and flax meal, giving this snack a fibre boost which helps maintain a healthy gut microbiome.

Most children are not allowed to bring nut-based products to school, so these balls are bound together with sunflower butter, which is a great source of iron, vitamin E, magnesium, phosphorus, zinc, and folate.

Crispy roasted chickpeas

These crispy roasted chickpeas are the perfect crunchy, salty snack to replace potato chips, which don't provide any nutritional benefit. Chickpeas are a great source of protein, providing over 5 grams of satiating protein and almost 9 grams of fibre with a quarter cup. Roast these chickpeas with any flavour of your choice.

Vegan protein mango bread

This vegan protein mango bread sneaks in an extra boost of protein thanks to the vegan vanilla protein powder in the recipe. Children need a sufficient amount of protein in their diet to help build and repair various parts of the body from muscles to nails.

This bread only calls for five ingredients and is bursting with flavour thanks to the mango puree. It works well as a school snack, but can also serve as an easy breakfast in the morning before running off to school.

Broccoli-cauliflower veggie tots

These baked broccoli-cauliflower veggie tots are bound together with potato, giving this snack a boost of potassium, fibre, and vitamin C, which helps with building your child's immune system and maintaining healthy bones and teeth. Pair these tots with a plant-based chive dip, which is blended up with cashews to make it creamy and thick.

Sweet and spicy tortilla chips

If your kids really have a hankering for some chips, then these sweet and spicy tortilla chips should do the trick—plus, they pair well with vegetables and fruits. These chips have a sprinkling of brown sugar but also call for a touch of cayenne for something spicy. If your child doesn't like spicy food, you can always reduce or cut out this ingredient.

These chips go well with fruit salsa or even smashed avocado, which provides monounsaturated fats that benefit your child's growth and development while decreasing the risk of heart disease.

This story originally appeared on Thistle and was produced and distributed in partnership with Stacker Studio.