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Healthy Packaged Snacks To Feel Good About
Even those of us who just love to cook, who can’t get enough of the kitchen, rely on packaged snacks from time to time. Yes, we need to serve our kids plenty of fruits and vegetables, yes, we should all think about making homemade pita chips and chickpea poppers from time to time. But I think all of us – certainly me – lay in a supply of packaged snacks that they kids can grab when they are running, and I can feel good about letting them eat. Not to mention eat myself! Here are some of the... snacks that are on the market that we can all feel good about giving our kids, and our kids are happy to eat. These were all tested by a significant and continuous number of kids of all ages, plus adults, who traipsed through the house and gave feedback. Only the winners made it onto this list. Those that were labeled gluten-free are identified in this list.
Note: Some of these products we sent to me by the manufacturer, but whether or not they were purchased or received for free had no bearing on the review process.
Check out these snack collections for even more healthy and delicious packaged snacks!Continue to 2 of 50 below.
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Lundberg Rice Chips
These had a nice, hearty texture, great crunch. Some of the more intense flavors, like Sriracha and Wasabi, appealed to adults and older kids, as they were spicier and more pronounced than some other snacks, but the Smoky Maple had a subtle sweetness that was very appealing to all. Gluten-Free.Continue to 3 of 50 below.
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Lundberg Multigrain Chips
Multigrain chips made with organic grains, seeds and beans. The Redwood Smoky BBQ flavor, which packed a vivid flavor punch, appealed to kids who like a blast of flavor on their chips. The High Tide Sea Salt was simpler and also very appealing. These would be great to use with dips, too. There were a nice variety of flavor choices. Gluten-Free.Continue to 4 of 50 below.
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Godshall’s Turkey Bites
These are made from turkey thighs, chopped and formed into thick little squares, with a nice, soft (but not too soft) chew. Flavors include Teriyaki Pineapple, Mango Sriracha, and Korean BBQ. Minimally processed, all natural and no artificial ingredients or nitrates. Godshall’s also makes uncured snack sticks, which come in Turkey, Pepperoni and Beef.Continue to 5 of 50 below.
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Bare Apple Chips
You have to love a packaged snack that lists “apples” as the only ingredient. And you have to love that they came in several flavors, such as Fuji Red, Granny Smith, and a Sea Salt Caramel (which has more than just apples in it, but as far as sweet snacks go, you’ll still be in good shape). Nice and light and crunchy. The Granny Smith variety was great, but with the kids the Fuji Red was the winner in the taste test, very sweet and simple. “This tastes like candy,” said one kid.... Gluten-Free.Continue to 6 of 50 below.
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Crunchmaster Multi Grain Crackers
Forget the kids (who liked these a lot), I could eat these all day. The favorites were the 7 Ancient Grains (“nice sesame flavor”), the Multi-Grain Crackers with Sea Salt. They are called Crunchmaster for a reason (“excellent texture”)! I would also serve these with cheese. Gluten-Free.Continue to 7 of 50 below.
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Crunchmaster Grammy Crisps
“These are cinnamon-sweet good!”, “I’m going to have a third one because they are so good!” were a couple of the comments from young fans. If you need to avoid wheat, but crave the taste of a graham cracker, these are the snack to reach for. Gluten Free.Continue to 8 of 50 below.
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Late July Tortilla Chips
So many flavors to choose from! And made from an impressive variety of whole grains and seeds, like quinoa, chia, millet, amaranth, and brown rice. We loved the Jalapeno Lime, which was not too spicy for most, and the Nacho Chipotle, which had “not too strong of a nacho flavor” (eg, not overpowering). Some flavors are quite intense, but the classic Crispy Yellow Corn was a very delicate chip, and the Multigrain with Sea Salt by the Seashore variety was also very subtle, with 100% whole grains,... and an extra little boost of protein and fiber. Gluten-Free.Continue to 9 of 50 below.
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Nuts.com Freeze-Dried Strawberries
Also from Nuts.com, the freeze dried strawberries were a big hit with a lot of the kids, though the freeze dried texture surprised some. And again, you have to admire the ingredient list: “strawberries.” Drops mic, walks off stage. Gluten-Free.Continue to 11 of 50 below.
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Fruigees Organic Fruit Snack
These are made with fruits and vegetables, with the flavor of the vegetables intended to be quietly hidden by the fruit flavor. Definitely geared towards the younger kids. The 24 Carrot Orange was the winner, surprising one of the kids who didn’t like carrots, and the Nothing Beets Cherry was also well liked. An applesauce-ish texture, in a little squeeze pouch. Gluten-free.Continue to 12 of 50 below.
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Assorted fruit and nut bars; so many flavors, and these are available everywhere! The ones that incorporated a bit of chocolate like the Dark Chocolate Chunk met with great enthusiasm with the kids. One older kid said, “True to the wrapper, ‘chewy with a crunch’. I’d ask for this.” The Caramel Almond was also a notable hit. Gluten-free.Continue to 13 of 50 below.
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Glutino Buffalo Style Pretzels
Finding a good gluten free pretzel is pretty critical if you have kids with a gluten intolerance, and this kicked up version really appealed. “They are spicy, in a good way,” said one tester. Gluten-Free.Continue to 14 of 50 below.
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Glutino Salted Caramel Covered Pretzels
These disappeared pretty quickly in the testing process, as the salty sweet caramel thing really appealed. They are quite sweet, but that was hardly a deterrent for the kids. Gluten-Free.
.Continue to 15 of 50 below.
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Angie's Boom Chicka Sea Salt Popcorn
“A perfect amount of salt,” said the kids in between handfuls. Other Boom Chicka Popcorn flavors like Lightly Sweet, White Cheddar, and Salted Caramel were also liked, but the classic salt was devoured. Gluten-Free.Continue to 16 of 50 below.
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Angie's Boom Chicka Puffs
The Sweet Barbecue won over a bunch of the kids, as did the White Cheddar (“Good flavor,” “Awesome.”). These puffs are made from quinoa and sorghum, so for anyone who craves those kinds of puffy snacks, these are the alternative to feel better about. Gluten-Free.Continue to 17 of 50 below.
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Pirate's Booty Crunchy Treasures
There are few parents out there who haven’t explored the world of Pirate Booty and Veggie Booty, which have been kid-pleasers for years, but now this version has arrived. The pieces are denser, and shaped like cute little pieces of treasure. “This has a richer flavor than the regular Pirate Booty,” said one. More substantive, I had to agree. Gluten-Free.Continue to 18 of 50 below.
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Pirate's Booty Fruity Booty
The fact that these are made with no artificial colors, flavors or preservatives is a surprise when you taste the sweetness and see the pink color of these little puffs. But the color comes from real raspberries! At first the sweetness combined with the puff texture is a bit disconcerting, but then the bag is gone and you realize they were “very, very good.” Gluten-Free.Continue to 19 of 50 below.
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Sometimes you just need a good bag of pretzels. Newman’s makes thicker and thinner varieties, rounds, sticks, you name it, and all with a great classic pretzel flavor and crunch. There is also a spelt variety. And guess what? Organic. But what else would we expect from the Newman’s? (Amazingly Paul Newman and Newman's Own have donated over $400 million to charity since they started up in 1982).Continue to 20 of 50 below.
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Newman's Own Apples
There are a bunch of good crunchy-style dried apples out there, but these were deliciously different. Moist and naturally sweet with a great chewy texture. Also on the back, “What do you get if you cross an apple with a shellfish? A crab apple.” Bad dum bump. Gluten-Free.Continue to 21 of 50 below.
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Beanitos Nacho Cheese White Bean Chips
Chips that are made from beans? Yes! This means these snacks are high in fiber, and pack some nice protein, which is not something that one usually finds in a crinkly bag. Gluten-Free.Continue to 22 of 50 below.
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And some bean-based puffs, too, in Hot Chili Lime and Real Cheesy versions (most kids floated towards the Real cheese Puffs vs. the spicier version, though grown ups liked the spicy ones). Gluten-Free.Continue to 23 of 50 below.
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Quaker Popped Caramel Corn Rice Crisps
Sometimes only a sweet snack will do...and when that moment arises, this is a good bag to grab. The popped brown rice chips also come in savory flavors, and have a very satisfying crunch. Gluten-Free.Continue to 24 of 50 below.
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Quaker Chewy Granola Bars
My kids have each eaten their weight in granola bars and this is one of the brands I reach for again and again. Oatmeal Raisin, Chocolate Chip, and Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip have been household staples for years, and new flavors like Caramel Apple keep it interesting. Moist and chewy.Continue to 25 of 50 below.
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Annie's Bernie's Farm Cheddar Crackers
No artificial colors, only fruit and vegetable extracts, but the little barnyard menagerie of crackers in the box has vibrant colors that will attract little snackers. Unlike a lot of cheese flavored snacks, this one uses 100% real cheddar.Continue to 26 of 50 below.
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An oldie but an amazing goodie. Whole grain, with some nice fiber, and they come in an array of flavors, but really, why mess with perfection (in this writer and her family’s opinion). Thank goodness for portion-control bags when it comes to snacking (again at least in this writer's opinion). The multi-grain are great, too.Continue to 27 of 50 below.
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Another classic that may get overlooked from time to time in place of newer snacking models. But never forget about the Triscuit! A more satisfying crunch is hard to fine, with a great woven texture, good fiber, just three ingredients, and a variety of flavors for those who are not Triscuit purists.Continue to 28 of 50 below.
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Triscuit Thin Crisps
If you like the taste and texture of Triscuits but are looking for a little lighter texture (and about twice as many crackers per serving), try these. They also come in a variety of flavors.Continue to 29 of 50 below.
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Rice Works Snacks
I just loved these. Great hearty crunch. The Black Japonica flavor is simple and nutty and the least assertive, so the one to go for if you have any spice averse kids. The fuller flavored Sweet Chili has a very good sweet and spicy balance, and the Wasabi Soy and Ginger is pretty delicate, but you could definitely taste soy and wasabi. Gluten-Free.Continue to 30 of 50 below.
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Lesser Evil Buddha Bowl Classic Cheddah Popcorn
Cheesey popcorn can often pack in the calories and the fat, but this lightly cheesed popcorn exhibits more restraint. And that’s a good thing, because it’s hard to stop eating it. Gluten-Free.Continue to 31 of 50 below.
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Mott's Original Apple Sauce
My older son Jack goes through a six pack of these a week. He is a die-hard fan of the original, but there are many flavors to choose from, including Granny Smith, which, as you would expect, has more tartness. Other flavors include Strawberry, Mixed Berry and Cinnamon. And did you know apple sauce is a good source of vitamin C? I didn’t!Continue to 32 of 50 below.
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Earthbound Farm Mini Peeled Carrots
Having a bag of these mini carrot pouches to throw into your bag, a lunch box, a beach tote, what have you is just a great idea. Is there any vegetable that’s more universally kid-approved? 25 calories per individual serving (which means us grown ups can snack on them all day long), and a load of vitamin A in every bag. Organic and Gluten Free.Continue to 33 of 50 below.
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Earthbound Farm Organic Raisins
So moist, and so plump, and so sweet, with some good natural fiber. A couple of kids who normally don’t like raisins changed their minds when they tried these. Gluten-Free.Continue to 34 of 50 below.
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Love Grown Oat Clusters
With five flavors of subtly sweetened oat clusters to choose from, ranging from Simply Oats to Raisin Almond Crunch to Cocoa Goodness (a big hit), if you are a granola family, you’ll be happy to discover this brand. Each serving has a decent dose of fiber. Gluten-Free.Continue to 35 of 50 below.
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Sargento String Cheese
These had very nice pull apart appeal, and if you're looking to cut back on fat, the Light version has less fat and fewer calories, and still tastes really good. The kids loved these. A good dairy source of protein and calcium, and nice to know that these cheese snacks are all sugar-free. Gluten-Free.Continue to 36 of 50 below.
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Sargento Colby-Jack Cheese Sticks
Sargento makes quite a variety of cheese sticks, and the Colby-Jack version was a favorite, also available in regular and light versions. These are just sticks, not pull apart string cheese, but they are an appealing marbled orange and pale yellow. There is also a fairly mild marbled Cheddar-Mozzarella version. Gluten-Free.Continue to 37 of 50 below.
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Sabra Homestyle Salsa with Tostitos
If your kids like salsa and chips as much as mine do, this is a very good go-to snack. Salsa is really a healthy item, basically made from low-calorie vegetables, and the single serving of whole grain tortilla chips means that the blurry line of what a portion should be, when that big bag is lying open, goes away.Continue to 38 of 50 below.
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Sabra Bold & Spicy Hummus with Tostitos
Another smart single serving option, that’s perfect for packing to go. The hummus comes in a variety of flavors, from Classic to Roasted Garlic to Roasted Red Pepper, but it was the Bold & Spicy that had my younger son cleaning the inside of the cup with his finger after the chips were gone. These come packed with Rold Gold Pretzel Crisps for dipping.Continue to 39 of 50 below.
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Horizon Organic Mixed Berry Super Squeeze
The little kids squeezed the little pouches of the Mixed Berry flavor dry. Because there is milk in this drink, it provides a nice dose of calcium and protein. Also available in orange and strawberry.Continue to 40 of 50 below.
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Horizon Honey Snack Grahams
Oh, were these delicious and so nice and simple, with that comforting graham flavor that kids and adults always love. Lightly sweet, quite cute with their little shapes. Lots of whole grains, for a cookie snack.Continue to 41 of 50 below.
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If I told you the amount of little bags of Planter’s Peanuts we go through at home, you probably wouldn’t believe me. Such a great little burst of protein in the middle of the day, and so satisfying. Gluten-Free.Continue to 42 of 50 below.
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Funley's Wholly Granolly Clusters
Very kid-friendly, these little granola nuggets; my youngest licked his finger to get the last crumbs out of the Peanut Butter Pretzels flavored bag. The Wild Apple Berry version was also a big hit, with one 4 year old telling her mother to tape up and save the rest of the little bag for later. Some surprising and nice vitamin C in here, too!Continue to 43 of 50 below.
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The Peach, Apricot and Apple flavor of this line of squeezable fruit pouches was the most-liked, eliciting the compliment, “sweet and good and peachy" from one young fan. Gluten-Free.Continue to 44 of 50 below.
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My Super Cookies
As far as cookie snacks go, these you can feel pretty good about. They are organic, high in whole grains, with no artificial colors, and come in the shape of little super heroes (obviously geared towards the younger set). They come in chocolate, and - not something you see every day -- blueberry vanilla. And the company donates over 20,000 meals every year to local food banks -- and that's sweet.Continue to 45 of 50 below.
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World Peas Dried Peas
Dried edamame have been around for a while, but this company makes a line of all-natural green pea snacks with a broad array of seasonings Favorites were Texas BBQ, with its smoky mesquite flavor and the Santa Barbara Ranch. A nice crunch, a nice dose of protein, and much lighter in the fat and sodium departments than you would think. I found them pretty addictive. Gluten Free.Continue to 46 of 50 below.
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World Peas Fava Crisps
Another snack from this philanthropy-minded small manufacturer, the adults really loved these, and it's very unusual to see snacks made with fava beans in this country, though they are the base for snack food in other parts of the world. A really cool soft crunchy texture, and great flavors like Vinegar, Ranch, and again BBQ.Continue to 47 of 50 below.
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Erin Baker's Breakfast Cookies
The mini versions of these whole grain cookies, sweetened with fruit puree, are individually wrapped and not only make an appealing kid-breakfast on the go, they make great snacks as well. The oatmeal raisin and the peanut butter were very moist and chewy and satisfying. Lots of fiber in these babies; not something you usually find in a cookie.Continue to 48 of 50 below.
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I Heart Keenwah Quinoa Clusters
Very crunchy, and with a stick to your ribs quality that kept people satisfied for a while.
Which is really the purpose of a snack. These are made from quinoa (pronounced "keenwah", as the package indicates), an ancient grain that is actually a complete source of protein, with all in amino acids built right in. The favorite flavor was the Chocolate Sea Salt. Gluten-free.Continue to 49 of 50 below.
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Cabot Serious Snacking Seriously Sharp Cheddar Cheese
My family all happens to love sharp cheddar, even the kids, and this little individually packaged slab had a lot of bang for the buck flavor wise. Cabot also makes bars and bars of other cheeses, so if you are looking for something on the milder side, you can grab anything from Colby to Muenster to Monterey Jack and slice away.Continue to 50 of 50 below.
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How's that for a list? There are so many great products out on the market now! I'm always looking for new things to crunch on! I'd love hearing about your snack discoveries, what you like, what your kids like....I feel like I could keep adding on to this article forever (and maybe I will!) Stay tuned for a list of all of the gluten-free snacks we tested, and another article about great gluten-free pizzas to keep in the fridge.