You’re busy and don’t always have time to cook, but you want your kids eating healthy. You know processed foods are bad, and you know too much gluten isn’t great, so you were thrilled when you discovered that pre-packaged gluten-free products exist right in your grocery store.Things like the popular Annie’s gluten-free bunny cookies that they love so much!

Sound familiar?

So, maybe you started buying some of these types of alleged health products for kids. It sure is easier and more convenient than baking cookies yourself, your kids enjoy them, and they’re gluten-free. Triple win.

…Can you sense that doom and gloom that bad news is coming?

It’s true: Sadly, you might have been duped once again.

A 2018 study out of the University of Calgary that looked at 374 products from various grocery stores found that many of these gluten-free products aimed for children, while perhaps gluten-free, had higher levels of sugar and sodium and often lower levels of protein.

Back to the drawing board for you as a parent, right?

Here’s the thing: Just like your quest to become fitter and healthier, short cuts don’t really exist (7-minute abs? Please) when it comes to eating healthy either. Getting fit is hard. Eating healthy is hard, but worth it in the long run. 

Alas, two golden rules to make your life as a reformed home cook for children easier:

Tip #1: Allot specific time for snack-making

When it comes to children, you always have to have snacks on hand. Thus set aside a few hours—be it once a month or once a week— to prepare healthy snacks for your kids that you can then freeze and save for the upcoming days and weeks. Because really, the only way you can be 100 percent sure exactly what’s in your food is if you’re putting whole foods together yourself.

Tip #2: Your freezer is your best friend

If your freezer is small, invest in a second one. Make large batches of, and then freeze any and all snacks.

To get you moving in the right direction, here are 3 recipes you can try. Super simple and easy and perfect for freezing.

1. Homemade Granola Bars:

Ingredients:

  • 4 cups finely chops nuts (pecans, almonds, hazelnuts, flax seeds – anything goes, really. Select nuts your kids like)
  • 4 cups finely shredded unsweetened coconut (if anyone is opposed to coconut, simply substitute more nuts instead, or a little oatmeal)
  • 2 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 4 Tbsp. almond flour
  • 1 cup coconut oil
  • 1/2 honey, maple syrup or agave
  • 1/2 cup almond butter
  • Optional: Dark chocolate chips (If you use them, you can avoid honey or maple syrup)

Instructions: 

Mix all ingredients together and then press into a pan and refrigerate. When it has hardened, cut into squares and wrap individually in plastic wrap. 

2. Homemade sugar-free apple sauce

Ingredients:

  • 12 apples (any kind will do, but I recommend sweeter apples)
  • cinnamon to taste
  • 1/2 honey (optional)
  • 1 cup water water
  • 4 tsp. lemon juice
  • 1/4 cup butter or ghee
  • pinch of nutmeg
  • pinch of salt

Instructions:

  1. Preheat your oven to 425 F
  2. In a deep baking dish, combine peeled, sliced apples, water, honey, lemon juice, ghee and salt
  3. Roast in oven for 30 minutes, until the apples are quite soft
  4. Puree ingredients together in a food processor.
  5. Stir in the spices and serve hot or cold

3. Healthy Banana bread

Ingredients:

  • 4-6 bananas
  • 4 cups crushed walnuts (best to do this in the food processor so it’s almost more like the texture of flour) 
  • Splash of maple syrup or pinch dark chocolate chips
  • 1 cup almond butter
  • 4 eggs

Instructions:

Combine all ingredients and mix until smooth. Bake at 375 F for 45 minutes.

Take the time: Because a bad diet as a kid leads to an unhealthy teenager, and an unhealthy teenager leads to an obese and overweight diabetic adult.