College Care Package

Make healthy, easy-to-mail snacks that will keep your college kid alert and energized for classes and late-night studying. By: Amy Ahlberg

College Care Package

College Care Package

When teens head off to college, they’re faced with some healthy-eating hurdles, like fueling all-nighters spent studying for exams, making up for meals missed due to paper deadlines, and offsetting the less-than-healthy grub they’re gobbling while socializing with their campus pals. But you can help your child fill those nutritional gaps with a care package crammed with homemade, healthy treats. Send some TLC with these energizing, easy-to-ship snack recipes.

Molasses-Almond Granola

Photo: Randy Mayor; Styling: Leigh Ann Ross 

Molasses-Almond Granola

Your child probably has a mini-fridge in his or her dorm room that can house milk or yogurt to top this healthy breakfast (or snack). The oats in this filling granola recipe provide slowly-digested complex carbohydrates, which will provide lasting energy and will keep blood sugar levels steady. Pack it up in an airtight tin for lasting freshness.

View Recipe: Molasses-Almond Granola

Sweet Chipotle Snack Mix

Sweet Chipotle Snack Mix

Ground chiles, cumin, and oregano spice up this sweet and hot nut mixture. Nuts are a protein-dense snack, and they also provide heart-healthy fats and antioxidants. 

A glass storage jar with a locking lid is the perfect vessel to keep this homemade treat fresh or store individual servings in zip-top bags for quick backpack-friendly snacks.

View Recipe: Sweet Chipotle Snack Mix

Vanilla-Spice Nuts

Photo: Sang An; Styling: Christina Wressel 

Vanilla-Spice Nuts

For another nutty nibble, skip the chiles and use comforting spices like cinnamon, allspice, and cardamom. The aromatic addition of cinnamon is a stealth source of health benefits, as well: A mere teaspoon of ground cinnamon contains roughly as many antioxidants as half a cup of blueberries to help ward off any colds.

Shipping tip: Mail college care packages early in the week to avoid having them languish in the campus mailroom over a weekend.

View Recipe: Vanilla-Spice Nuts

Spicy Maple-Cashew Popcorn

Photo: John Autry; Styling: Cindy Barr 

Spicy Maple-Cashew Popcorn

This glazed popcorn mixture is sure to be devoured during movie night at the dorm. Popcorn is a filling snack that’s also a good source of whole grains, and mild, sweet cashews provide immunity-boosting zinc.

Mailing advice: Call or e-mail your child to let them know the package's estimated arrival date.

View Recipe: Spicy Maple-Cashew Popcorn

Banana Snacking Cake

Photo: John Autry; Styling: Mindi Shapiro Levine 

Banana Snacking Cake

Loaf cakes hold up well during shipping, and a slice can stand in for breakfast on a busy morning. This healthy version is made with potassium-packed bananas, canola oil, low-fat yogurt, and just 1/3 cup of sugar.

Wrap baked treats such as snacking cakes, quick breads, and muffins first in plastic wrap, then in aluminum foil for maximum protection and freshness.

View Recipe: Banana Snacking Cake

Zucchini-Pineapple Quick Bread

Photo: Randy Mayor; Styling: Jan Gautro 

Zucchini-Pineapple Quick Bread

This quick bread is loaded with two cups of grated zucchini, a good source of fiber and vitamins A and C (6). Bake quick breads like this one in a disposable foil pan or lightweight aluminum pan that can also protect it during shipping; simply follow the directions in the recipe for cooling and removing the food from the pan. When cool, wrap in plastic wrap or foil and return to the cleaned container.

View Recipe: Zucchini-Pineapple Quick Bread

Pistachio-Chai Muffins

Photo: John Autry

Pistachio-Chai Muffins

Yes, muffins can be healthy. Thanks to delicious pistachios, just one of these muffins provides nearly 4 grams of protein, making it a good option for a quick breakfast-on-the-run.

To ship them, first wrap each muffin individually in plastic wrap, then wrap a single layer of muffins in aluminum foil or place in a single layer in a zip-top plastic bag. Place the bag in a reusable plastic container to prevent crushing.

View Recipe: Pistachio-Chai Muffins

Oatmeal, Chocolate Chip, and Pecan Cookies

Photo: Becky Luigart-Stayner; Styling: Jan Gautro 

Oatmeal, Chocolate Chip, and Pecan Cookies

What would a care package be without homemade chocolate chip cookies? These are made heartier (and healthier) with fiber-rich oats, but all your child will notice is their crunchy, nutty, chocolatey goodness. Pack cookies tightly in a tin or into reusable plastic containers, and place a layer of wax paper between layers of cookies.

View Recipe: Oatmeal, Chocolate Chip, and Pecan Cookies

Send a Message Fortune Cookies

Photo: Randy Mayor; Styling: Cindy Barr  

Send a Message Fortune Cookies

Send messages of encouragement via these homemade fortune cookies; they’re easier to make than you might think, and they’re guaranteed to generate a smile. When you’re ready to mail your goodies, put them all into a sturdy cardboard box, and cushion the contents with yesterday’s comics section.

View Recipe: Send a Message Fortune Cookies

Green Pumpkinseed Cranberry Crispy Bars

Photo: Randy Mayor 

Green Pumpkinseed Cranberry Crispy Bars

If your child is a fan of crispy, marshmallow and cereal treats, try making this nutritionally pumped-up version. It’s studded with tart dried cranberries and with pumpkin seeds, which are rich in magnesium, a mineral that’s necessary for maintaining heart rhythm as well as over 300 chemical reactions in the body.

View Recipe: Green Pumpkinseed Cranberry Crispy Bars

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