Healthy Snack Alternatives

We want our families to consume healthier foods and avoid the highly processed, sugary, genetically modified foods, but how do we do it?

Preparing natural, homemade on-the-go food is surprisingly easy and fun. Here are four healthy snack options, perfect for school and traveling!

1. Energy Bar. This snack does not require a dehydrator, but does require a food processor. Ingredients include almonds and/or seeds, along with dried fruit.

I call my recipe "The Andy Bar" after my college nickname. You can easily adapt this recipe and choose your own brand name. Be creative and have fun labeling!

View the Andy Bar recipe

The next three snacks require the use of a dehydrator or makeshift dehydrator. Snacks that are dehydrated at temperatures below 116 remain raw. Raw foods maintain their enzymes and therefore are healthier foods.

Your oven makes an excellent dehydrator. Set the oven at its lowest temperature. (This will probably be somewhere around 170 degrees.) Prop open the oven door to help lower the drying temperature. Place a fan in front of the oven to keep the air flowing and avoid condensation.

2. Fruit Leather. Virtually any fruit and any fruit combination will work. This is one of the simplest snacks to make, provided you have a food processor and an oven or dehydrator. I ferment the fruit to lower the sugar content, and my kids still love it! Feel free to be creative with additions like cinnamon, ginger, and other natural ingredients.

3. Dried Fruit. Apples, bananas, and mangoes lend themselves well to this process. Simply slice and dehydrate using your oven or dehydrator. You can maintain the color of the fruit by dipping first in lemon juice. Or you can slice and sprinkle with cinnamon and dehydrate.

4. Chips. The Snack Food Association says that potato chips are America's number one snack. According to the trade group, tortilla chips rank as number two. There's no doubt we like salt and we like crunch. However, our love for convenience as well as the crunch may come with a price. When carbohydrate-rich foods like potatoes are cooked at high temperatures—as is the case with all potato chips—a chemical by-product is produced called acrylamide. The World Health Organization acknowledges that acrylamide is a carcinogen. (See their information note titled Acrylamide in Food is a Potential Health Hazard to learn more.)

The alternative? Potatoes can be safely dehydrated to preserve their nutrition and avoid acrylamides. Sweet potatoes can also be dehydrated and salted. However, for the most crunch and the least starch, try kale chips! Kale chips can be as simple as mixing oil and salt with freshly washed kale, or you can add flavor and nutrition by incorporating other greens, vegetables, or spices.

It's not easy to forsake the convenience of on-the-go snacks, but with a little creative energy you may find yourself enjoying familiar foods in a whole new way!