I was just working on a family’s protocol offering up recommendations for healthier “crunchy” foods, and thought “I need to share this!”   I was going to squeeze it into my Free Picky Eating Webinar coming up, but it’s already a full hour of useful tips, there wasn’t much room/time left.  So here I am with my list of 40 healthy crunchy foods for kids!

Most kids do very well with crunchy foods.  Especially picky eaters.

When Sienna went through her earlier phases of extreme picky eating, crunchy foods were a staple.  If I steered into the territory of mushy foods (like muffins) or slimy foods (like yogurt) it was anxiety-provoking.  I had to prepare myself for a lot of gagging, and even vomitting.  Nope…those days were not fun.

But here we are today, with a little girl who had my homemade pumpkin seed & zucchini crackers for breakfast, with hazelnut butter, and some coconut yogurt.  No gagging and no tears.  I NEVER thought things would change, but with some tweaks and the Picky Eater Protocol we completely turned things around.  She is a different child at meals and stress is long gone.

crunchy foods picky eaters

Why children crave crunchy foods?

SENSORY PREFERENCES

Picky eaters like my daughter in her earlier years, tend to be selective with food because of their sensory preferences.  For instance, a child can be under sensitive  or over sensitive to sensory input like smell, taste and texture.  

When we are under sensitive, we can’t process sensory input from food properly or feel softer textures in our mouth (think of it as if the sensation in our mouth being numbed).  When sensations are numbed, we would avoid foods like yogurt, bread, etc. and instead develop a preference for crunchier foods.  Sienna would also over-stuffed her mouth to help feel her food and get a sense of the oral boundaries. Intimately known as the “chipmunk effect”.

ORAL MOTOR DELAYS

Some children (also like my Sienna) have low muscle tone or delayed chewing skills.  They haven’t quite figured out how to move their tongue around and position food for chewing and swallowing.  Some crunchy foods are easier to manage because they often dissolve and require limited oral motor skills.  Kids get their energy/calories much quicker with these calorically-dense foods, versus having to gnaw on a lot of broccoli.

TASTE

And more simply, kids (and adults alike) may crave the crunch because these foods tend to taste better.  So I asked the parents who follow me which Crunchy foods their kids go crazy for and here’s what I heard:

  • Cheerios
  • Cheese Puffs
  • Cheetos
  • Cheesy Crackers (Cheezits, Cheese Nibs)
  • Animal Crackers
  • Goldfish
  • Chips
  • French Fries
  • Munchies

I’d love to know which crunchy foods your little one loves?  Comment below!

Healthy Packaged Snacks for Kids

Alternative crunchy foods (healthier options)

Picky eaters also tend to be limited eaters, so getting a nutrient punch with every bite is important.  So I’ve also included a list of 40 crunchy foods (healthier alternatives) you can try at home.  Because rotating foods is important to keep (or get) our kids out of the cycle of eating the same foods (and nutrients) every single day.  Even the smallest change can help expand their variety.

The list here includes mostly packaged foods (aside from your fruit and veg options).  And I’ll be honest, we don’t have much of these foods in the house now.  I prefer to slave over the stove making our own crunchy foods and save the environment from all the packaging.

But I get it. Time is precious as a parent and without these convenience snacks we’d go insane!  So I’ve selected the products you can feel good about giving your little ones.  They are better than the average crunchy cookie, chip or cracker.  Mostly GMO-free, gluten-free, dairy-free, and preservative-free.

As a Certified Nutritionist & Picky Eating Expert I also help parents incorporate healthier alternatives, unless their child has VERY limited list of preferred foods. Then eating comes first and nutrition comes second.

 

40 Healthy Crunchy Foods 

Vegetables Carrot, Celery, Parsnip
Kale Chips   Love this brand as well
Snap Peas (organic)
Seaweed Crisps
Jicama
Fruit Apple slices
Pear slices (less ripe)
Banana chips  Sweetened varieties also available
Apple chips (organic)  Same as above
Sweet Snacks  Cashew Clusters
Coconut “Smiles”  Great source of healthy fats
Cinnamon Rice Cakes Top with favourite nut or seed butter
Coconut Clusters
Cinnamon Roasted Chickpeas Great source of protein
Nuts & Seeds  Pumpkin Seeds High in iron and fibre
Cashews
Almonds
Brazil Nuts
Sunflower Seeds
Pecans
Chips  Beanitos Made of beans so higher in protein
Protein Chips
Snap Pea Crisps Or http://www.harvestsnaps.com/products/
Sweet Potato Chips
Blue Chips Gluten Free, Non GMO, Organic
Crackers  Rice Crackers  Limit to a few days a week due to concerns with arsenic.
Rice Cake Thins  Same as above.
Sweet Potato Crackers Beet flavour also available
Oat Crackers Gluten-free, No sugar
Mary’s Crackers Wheat-free, No sugar, Organic ingredients, few ingredients
Cereal  Love Grown Power O’s Bean-based cereal
Paleo Granola Nutrient-dense: mostly nuts and seeds, low sugar
18 Rabbits Granola Nut free
JK Granola My fave!  Gluten and grain free, low sugar
Cookies/Bars Quinoa Cookies
Ginger Snaps no preservatives, low sugar, additives, trans-fat or cholesterol, made with Spelt flour, Wheat-Free
Protein Bars Soy is primary ingredient so limit to one or two a week
Hemp Heart Bites Contains healthy fats

Download a printable version here!

Did I miss any favourites?  Let me know in the comments!

And if your child’s eating is a concern for you, definitely jump on the Free “Picky Eating Solutions” webinar coming up!  Lots of eye-opening tips to be shared.

 

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