7 Healthy Swaps For Your Kids' Favorite Junk Food Snacks

We know feeding your kids healthy food is hard. Here's how to make it a little easier.

May 10, 2017
little girl snacking
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Even the purest sugar is still sugar. Too much salt isn't great for you. And overloading on sweets is never a good idea. We get it. But kids are still kids and we can’t expect them to subsist on kale smoothies when all their friends are eating cake.

(On just a quarter-acre of land, you can produce fresh, organic food for a family of four—year-round. Rodale's The Backyard Homestead shows you how.)

Fortunately it is easier than ever to find healthier, better-for-you swaps for childhood favorites they crave (and let’s be honest, you crave too!). That way you can give them a treat that's satisfying, but not filled with tons of gross artificial preservatives, colors, and flavors. The best part: these organic snacks are not elusive pricey finds reserved to the shelves of health food specialty stores. You can find all of these on Amazon and on the shelves of most regular supermarkets. And, yes, these are all kid-tested, parent approved. (Plus you can check out more organic snack foods for kids here.) Happy snacking!

Related: The 10 Worst Packaged Foods According To Nutritionists—And How To Make Them Healthier

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You can still have your fun with chocolate sandwich cookies loaded with sweet white filling, even if you take a break from Oreos. 

Try this instead: Back to Nature Classic Creme Cookies made with no high fructose corn syrup or artificial preservatives, flavors, or colors. There’s also Newman's Own Organics Newman-O's chocolate cookies which are wheat and dairy free, plus send all profits to charity. 

Related: 11 Healthiest Foods For You And The Planet

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Jar of lollipops at the bank or doctor’s office? Swap out with something even tastier.

Try this instead: Yum Earth USDA Organic Lollipops are honestly delicious, made with real fruit extracts and no artificial dyes or flavors. I’d take that peach flavor over a mystery pop any day!

goldfish crackers
Goldfish crackers

Possibly the most popular parent switch is bunnies for the classic orange goldfish snacks. Goldfish crackers do have some great organic wheat options, however, so they aren't always a bad choice. 

Try this instead: Accessible and affordable on shelves across America, Annie’s Organic Cheddar Bunnies are the perfect sub for Goldfish. Made with 100% real Organic Valley cheese with no artificial flavors, synthetic colors, or preservatives, they still retain a fun shape and taste kids love.

Related: What You Need To Know About Arsenic In Rice (And 4 Other Foods To Be Wary Of)


cinnamon cereal
Sugary cereals

I still get cravings for Cinnamon Toast Crunch, Golden Grahams, and Fruit Loops—those comfort-food cereals from my youth. But I don't want to pass that on to my kids.

Try this instead: Cascadian Farms is a leader in “organic knock-offs,” providing GMO, fructose, and artificial color-free Breakfast Cereal versions of those sweet tastes with Cinnamon Crunch, Graham Crunch, and Fruitful O’s. The only thing missing are the mascots, but fortunately the boxes still come with educational games on the back.

Related: How To Bake With 12 Healthy Sugar Substitutes

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Gummies and fruit snacks

I know gummies are bad for kids’ teeth. Personally, I never got the appeal, but my kids just love them.

Try this instead: Instead of making them verboten, we opt for Stonyfield Organic Fruit Snacks, which even offer 100% daily serving of vitamin C and come in an adorable "fruity cows" variety pack. 

cheese puffs
Cheese puffs

Personally, I’ve never had a taste for the “orange” family of snack foods – you know, Cheetos, Doritos, Fritos. But my kids do still love their cheesy puffs.

Try this instead: Barbara's Cheese Puffs with real aged blue and cheddar cheese OR Luke's Organic Cheddar Clouds Snack Puffs are also a great substitute. 

Related: Exactly What To Eat In A Day To Reduce Your Risk Of Cancer

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Most chips kids reach for are oversalted and over-preserved, with little real ingredients left under all that processing. 

Try this instead: For a savory potato chip switch, stock up on Kettle Organic Potato Chips. For something to dip in that homemade salsa, check out Late July’s fun range of organic multigrain tortilla chips. They use ingredients like sweet potatoes, quinoa, and amaranth but, your kids will never know they aren’t eating Tostitos.   

Paige Wolf is the author of Spit That Out: The Overly Informed Parent's Guide to Raising Healthy Kids in the Age of Environmental Guilt, offering advice on making green living practical, manageable, and affordable. Follow @paigewolf on Twitter.