Energy fix: Top 8 snacks for children

Children starting or going back to school is a reminder of how we all need an energy boost when sitting at a desk for hours, no matter what our age.

A banana, handful of fruit, a drink of water can help us to recharge. (We often get dehydrated and need a drink more than food.)

Stopping for a sandwich may be a better idea than having a sweet treat. 

Schools often regulate what foods can be consumed, so consult with your child’s teacher about whether or not nuts are allowed as a growing numbers of children have nut allergies.

The trick is to get into good habits from the start. 

How easy it is to reach for sweet snacks that provide little or no sustenance, resulting in hunger as little as half an hour later.

Baking wholesome biscuits/cakes is a good idea, including a decent handful of oats for slow-release energy. Bake at the weekend and seal or freeze for the week.

This week we went shopping for ready-to-go snacks and found lots of wholesome, tasty options. 

The bars with oats appealed to all tasters — young and old.

Though many in the final selection come with high-protein nuts and natural fruit sugars, all are calorific with high sugars, so water — not sugary drinks or juices — is essential to wash them down.

Flahavans Flapjacks

Energy fix: Top 8 snacks for children

240g €3.95

Available with added cranberries, fruit and nut, and chocolate chip, tasters like the latter best, but the added fruit was also scoffed, especially by the children who gave them their top mark for their decent crunch and flavour.

One adult was pleased they were not over sweet, syrupy or cloying (though sugars at 8.8g per bar is high).

This was the bar adults and children agreed on most, giving it their top score for all flavours.

Score: 9

Trek Berry Burst

Energy fix: Top 8 snacks for children

165g €3.50

Three substantial 55g bars in a box are gluten-free and have no added sugar. 33% dates, 18% raisins, 13% fruit juice concentrates and 1.5% freeze-dried raspberries amount to a high enough 24.5g of sugars per bar. Protein at a high 10g per bar comes mainly from oats, providing sustenance.

The taste is fruity and appealed well enough to adults and may suit older students, but the paste-like texture will take some convincing for young children.

Score: 7

Aldi Raw cashew crush

Energy fix: Top 8 snacks for children

175g €3.49

Cashew nuts 51% and dates 49% is a commendably short list of ingredients in these five gluten-free bars. 12g of sugars per bar is high, but at least from natural sugars, and 4.1g of protein per 35g bar was average. More a paste, it is not oversweet and texturally appealed to adults tasters.

One child described it as playdough. Worth trying on kids, though. I have heard some love the denseness.

Better value than similar Nak’d (Four bars €3.29/135g).

Score: 7.25

Yes! Dark nut bars

Energy fix: Top 8 snacks for children

105g €3.50

The cranberry version appealed less to the children, but the generous 42% of delicious almonds and 18% roasted peanuts in the chocolate and sea salt and almond was a winner for the crisped soya pieces.

Adults liked the decent 7g protein per person (from the nuts). Sugars from honey and glucose syrup at 4g are average.

The chocolate is a bit dark for children, but the adults put it top of the list for its balance and added saltiness.

Score: 8

Eat Natural fruit and nut bar

Energy fix: Top 8 snacks for children

45g €1.20

Chocolate is top of the list here, which is better than seeing sugar, with sultanas next at 17%, glucose syrup (a form of sugar), dried cranberries 9%, crisped rice, dried apricots 7%, shredded coconut 6%, honey, almonds 5%.

Lots of good things here and no additives. Sugars are average at 4g per bar, and protein at 3.6g per bar is average.

It tastes and looks wholesome. Most popular with the adults.

Mainly from wholefood shops

Score: 8.25

Tesco crispy seeds nutty bites

Energy fix: Top 8 snacks for children

200g €2.39

Sugar is top of the list here so all the high 32.2% sugars don’t come from the 13% currants, glucose syrup and honey.

10% peanuts along with 10% sesame seeds and 6% hazelnuts, and oat flakes deliver 10.1% protein in about 28 discs.

Chewy rather than crisp, our eight-year-old taster said. Everyone went back to the bag for more — the balance between nuts, seeds and sweetness was good.

No additives of concern.

Score: 7.25

Marks & Spencer treat bars

Energy fix: Top 8 snacks for children

135g €3.10

Three bars are half coated in dark chocolate with contrasting flavours of dried apricots, apples and cranberries.

Crunch is supplied by dried coconut, flaked almonds, in a base of puffed rice bound by linseed and honey, with chocolate powder a hint of ginger.

Sugars amount to a high 14g per bar (larger than others) from the fruit and what it takes to preserve it, and protein is an average 3g per bar.

Older children and adults favoured it.

Score: 7.5

Deliciously Ella energy ball

Energy fix: Top 8 snacks for children

40g €2.49

This cacao and almond protein ball has 60% dates, 22% almonds, 9% cacao, 7% almond butter, coconut oil, salt.

Gluten-free and vegan-friendly it appealed to adults more than children as it’s not crisp.

41.7% sugar comes from the dates — the sweetness has a clean flavour which is refreshing. Protein is lower than expected at 3.9g.

Could be divided into two for younger children.

Score: 7

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