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.
Chewy Oat and Fruit Granola Bars
Nabisco Good Thins
Nabisco's new Good Thins crackers load in whole grains (but are not 100% whole grain) for a filling snack with 2 grams fiber and 2 grams of protein. For the ultimate snack, tell your college student to pair these crackers with cheese, fruit, or a dip like hummus for an extra filling factor.
What Tasters Said: "Both are so satisfying and really do the trick for that salty-crunchy snack craving."
"Yum! These are great. Cheddar is super crisp and savory while sweet oat is the perfect salty-sweet balance."
Nutrition Facts: (serving size: 30 grams or about 21-23 pieces)
130-140 calories, 4-5g fat, 0.5g sat fat, 170-190mg sodium, 2g fiber, 2-3g sugar, 2g protein
Spiced Apple Chips
Chocolate-Peanut Butter Energy Balls
The chia seed has stolen the limelight lately on the nutrition red carpet. Packed with omega-3 fatty acids, carbohydrates, protein, dietary fiber, antioxidants, and calcium, these tiny black and white seeds provide a boost of energy and regulate blood sugar to help you feel full longer.
Speed up your breakfast tomorrow when you roll a batch of these energy balls tonight. Snacking on-the-go has never been easier or more delicious—and when chocolate cravings hit, you can pop one between meals all week long! What’s not to love?
Smartfood Delight White Cheddar Popcorn
Smartfood's White Cheddar Popcorn has been a snacking hit for many years, but we're big fans of their new Smartfood Delight offerings. These new popcorns retain all their crisp, buttery flavor, but the manufacturers have cut back on the toppings, which lowers sodium and fat numbers greatly.
What Tasters Said: "This tastes like a less-salty version of the original Smartfood, and I love it."
"The white cheddar flavor is subtle, but if you had never tasted the original, you'd probably think it was just right."
Nutrition Facts: (serving size: 3 1/2 cups)
130 calories, 5g fat, 1g sat fat, 200mg sodium, 3g fiber, 1g sugar, 3g protein
Chewy Oat Squares
These hearty squares are simple to make and wonderfully portable--they are perfect for packing in lunch boxes or for snacking in the car.
Peanut Butter Caramel Corn
Here’s a snack for those times when you want salt, sugar, protein, and crunch all in one bite. There’s just enough butter to create a layer of caramel goodness. Peanut butter and sliced almonds provide richness. Make it for yourself or package for gifts.
Cranberry-Pistachio Energy Bars
These bars fit snugly into snack-size zip-top plastic bags but also divide easily into squares. Store in an airtight container up to three days.
Lesser Evil Buddha Bowl Popcorn
Popping your own popcorn is ideal, but if you need some flavored options to keep on hand, we're good with Lesser Evil's Buddha Bowl flavors. We tried Avocado-Licious, Himalayan Pink, and Himalayan Sweetness. Each is unique, and the different oils used to pop the kernels are very pronounced. Both coconut and avocado oils increase saturated fat numbers, but the serving size is small enough that's not a huge concern. This whole-grain popcorn is filling and will keep your college student feeling energized while studying late at night.
What Tasters Said: "These are addictive. The flavor isn't very strong, which I like."
"The coconut oil flavor is a bit much if you're not used to it, but I like it in the salty-sweet combo."
Nutrition Facts: (serving size: about 2-3 cups)
110-120 calories, 3-5g fat, 2-3g sat fat, 170-190mg sodium, 4-5g fiber, 1-6g sugar, 2-3g protein
Nuts and Bolts Trail Mix
Combining unsalted mixed nuts with dried fruit, oat cereal, Goldfish crackers, and mini pretzels satisfies a sweet and salty craving while giving you an energy boost throughout the day. A great option for snacking on the go, this trail mix is also a great for entertaining or tailgating. Not only is it kid-friendly, but it also comes together in just minutes, making it the superior option to other time-consuming dishes. Make a large bowl of it and portion it out for the week, or serve it to guests for an easy appetizer or poolside snack.
Marshmallow Popcorn Treats with Dark Chocolate Drizzle
Reminiscent of classic popcorn balls, these salty-sweet treats make for awesome low-fat, lunch box–friendly snacking. Make a batch with the kids this weekend to enjoy throughout the week.
Gluten-Free Peanut Butter Cookies
You probably have everything on hand to make these chewy, chocolaty peanut butter cookies. To fit the cookies on a single sheet pan, divide cookies into 5 rows of 4. Pressing the cookies flat helps them bake quickly and get lovely crisp edges; otherwise they'll be too round and undercooked.
Wow Baking Company Lemon Burst Cookies
Snack cookies are a dime a dozen, but that doesn't mean they all should be thrown into a care package. Focus on finding whole-grain versions of sweet favorites. In this case Wow Baking Company's Lemon Burst Cookies are made with a gluten-free flour blend that contains whole-grain brown rice. It's not 100% whole grain, but it's better than enriched wheat flour.
What Tasters Said: "I love these! The texture is great for a gluten-free cookie, too. It's like a shortbread when you bit into it, but then you can taste the lemon with each chew."
Nutrition Facts: (serving size: 4 cookies)
260 calories, 12g fat, 7g sat fat, 220mg sodium, 1g fiber, 14g sugar, 2g protein
Justin's Snack Pack - Peanut Butter with Banana Chips
All-natural nut butter favorite Justin's released their first snack pack last year with nut butters and pretzels. The newest addition to their snack packs line, Classic Peanut Butter + Banana Chips, is their best one yet. One pack is high in saturated fat thanks to oils used in the banana chips, but don't be deterred. The protein-rich nut butter packs in 6 grams of protein and 3 grams of fiber. This PB + banana snack is a sure winner with all ages but college students will especially appreciate having these grab-and-go packs on hand at all times.
Nutrition Facts: (serving size: 1 pack)
210 calories, 16g fat, 6g sat fat, 20mg sodium, 3g fiber, 6g sugar, 6g protein
No-Bake Chewy Granola Bars
These bars are a perfectly portable snack you can prep on Sunday and enjoy throughout the week. Wrap leftovers tightly in plastic wrap, and store in the fridge. The bars will continue to firm up as they chill.
Pressed by Kind Fruit Bars
Pressed by Kind bars are the new healthy "fruit roll-up" alternatives that your college student will fondly remember from their childhood. One bar has 2 servings of fruit, so our RD gives these a big thumbs up. The ingredient list is super clean, too—just the ingredients on the label, plus apple—so you can feel good about loading up a care package with these.
What Tasters Said: "These are tart in the best way possible. You know there's real fruit in here because you can see it and taste it."
"Apricot Pear Carrot Beet is my favorite. It's not overly sweet and has a bit of tang."
Nutrition Facts: (serving size: 1 bar)
110-130 calories, 0-3.5g fat, 0-2.5g sat fat, 45-70mg sodium, 2.5-4g fiber, 11-21g sugar, 1g protein
Baked Pita Chips
These lightly-salted chips are a great choice for after-school tummy satisfaction.
Trail Mix Chocolate Bark
A good old nut and raisin blend delivers sugar, salt, and crunch—AKA all things good. Healthier than store-bought alternatives, this snack is ideal for gift giving.
Dang Toasted Coconut Chips
If it's any indication how good these Dang Lightly Salted Coconut Chips are, a handful of testers emptied the bag before others were even able to try them. They're versatile thanks to a touch of sea salt, and we'd suggest skipping any sweetened versions so your kids can avoid added sugar. We would add these to yogurt or granola for an on-the-go breakfast, or sprinkle some into cacao nibs for an instant trail mix.
What Tasters Said: "The best things invented in the entire world."
"I absolutely love these. They're so satisfying."
"They're not too sweet like so many coconut flakes are."
Nutrition Facts: (serving size: 1 ounce)
140 calories, 10g fat, 10g sat fat, 185mg sodium, 4g fiber, 3g sugar, 2g protein
Bare Snacks Apple Cinnamon Chips
Sure, fruit chips have no protein, but their filling fiber makes them an ideal snack for hungry college students. Bare Snack's clean ingredient list is great for parents with an eye toward avoiding highly processed foods. These Apple Cinnamon chips are just that: apple and cinnamon. They're delicious on their own, but tell your students to keep oatmeal or yogurt on hand to mix with these chips for a filling and easy breakfast.
What Tasters Said: "These are so good, but alone they might not be very filling or satisfying. I would definitely add to something else."
"I love the crunchy texture. The flavor is fresh, and I appreciate the fact they didn't add more sugar."
Nutrition Facts: (serving size: 1/2 cup)
110 calories, 0g fat, 0g sat fat, 0mg sodium, 4g fiber, 21g sugar, 0g protein
Crispy and Spicy Snack Mix
When shopping for ingredients for this zippy snack mix, choose crunchy crackers and cereals made with whole grains. This irresistible snack mix satisfies all the savory cravings, without the added fat and calories of a greasy bag of potato chips. Go ahead and add dried fruits for a sweet, chewy counterpart. This kid-friendly mix makes for a great party appetizer for guests to snack on, or the perfect road trip snack.
The onset of autumn is worth celebrating, so why not make a huge batch of mulled apple cider and serve it with these spiced pumpkin muffins? The pumpkin adds gorgeous color, flavor, and moisture as well as fiber, vitamin A, and potassium.
Chewy Caramel Apple Cookies
These chewy cookies are actually gluten-free, but you can't even taste the difference!
Vermont Smoke & Cure Uncured Pepperoni Turkey Sticks
Meat sticks and snacks are popular once again in the snack aisle. Thanks to the push for healthier alternatives to traditional snack favorites, brands like Vermont Smoke and Cure have crafted snacks you can feel good about giving your college students. The meat used for their Uncured Pepperoni Turkey Sticks are raised without antibiotics and hormones; the sticks are gluten free; and they're very low calorie (just 35 per stick). These are easy for students to throw in their bags to have a quick snack in between classes.
What Tasters Said: "I'd pair this with cheese for a super filling snack."
Nutrition Facts: (serving size: 1 stick)
35 calories, 1.5g fat, 0.5g sat fat, 115mg sodium, 0g fiber, 0g sugar, 5g protein.
Peanut-Almond Snack Bars
Featuring pretzels, marshmallows, peanut butter, almonds, and even a little hint of chocolate, is there any snack attack this bar can't beat?
Peanut Butter-Chocolate Bars
What combination is more heavenly than chocolate and peanut butter? Absolutely nothing! These homemade bars unite the two to make a tasty after-school treat.
Spiced nuts are usually baked; this stovetop version speeds up the process. The smoky-spicy snack will store well in an airtight container for several days.
A handful of ingredients (and far less salt) gives you better-tasting flavored popcorn than you can buy. To make sure the oil is ready for the popcorn, add a couple of kernels and wait for them to pop. Once they pop, add the remaining kernels.
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.
Rocky Road Popcorn Balls
An old-fashioned popcorn ball is studded with marshmallows and chocolate chips for a delightful Rocky Road variation.
Granola Cookie Wedges
Instead of taking the time to scoop individual cookies, bake a superfast cookie “pie,” and then cut it into wedges.
Candied Apple Popcorn Balls
For popcorn pops, slide a skewer into the center of each slightly cooled ball; gently compress to secure stick.
Old-Fashioned Popcorn Balls
Guess what? This is a whole-grain dessert. To keep the stickiness at bay, wear latex gloves coated with cooking spray as you shape the popcorn balls.
Marcona almonds are blanched and roasted—you won't need to toast them. You can also substitute regular whole almonds. For the best texture, use whole pitted dates, not chopped; you need the sticky texture of the whole fruit.
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.