Healthy snacks for the growing tween

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If you are the parent of a child entering or currently in the tween years, you would be aware that they are going through a tremendous amount of change. You may note the emotional growth, independence, change in identity and more self-awareness. Couple this change with growth spurts, hormonal changes, and puberty and you have yourself a tween that has an increased need for energy and nutrients to support development.

WORDS: Carly Leaker, BHSc Clinical Nutritionist

A diet that lacks the appropriate nutrients and energy to support this period can directly affect tweens cognitive performance, mood, and metabolic health.

As a nutritionist, I will always recommend a varied and diverse diet. The more variety the more likely your tween is getting several nutrients because they are adding an assortment of foods. I can hear you groaning thinking ‘my tween still doesn’t eat diversely for me, and is still holding onto some of their toddler eating habits’.

I find one of the ways to get tweens to eat with more diversity is to talk with them about what they need in their diet, why, and what food sources have this. For example, energy. Energy is key for this life stage as tweens bodies are developing, moving, and changing. If they do not have enough food to fuel these changes, their metabolism will slow down as will development. If you are worried your tween is not eating enough, chances are they aren’t!  Talking with them about why they may be feeling fatigued, down, irritable and relating it back to fuelling their bodies nutritionally to support what they are going through can in some cases have a profound impact on the ways in which they eat.

If that doesn’t work, then I suggest you focus on a few key nutrients, protein, iron and zinc.

Protein: To support growth and building and maintaining body tissue.

Iron: To support increased growth, the body needs iron to support energy consumption and transport oxygen throughout the body.

Zinc: Plays a pivotal role in cell growth, differentiation, and metabolism. Meaning, it is integral to tweens growth and development physically, psychologically, and emotionally.

With two tweens in my household now, I have observed from their food behaviours that it is all about simplicity and all snacks; what is the easiest, quickest and no fuss way for them to eat.

Below are a few low effort, high energy snacks for your tweens that they are sure to love!

Choc Cacao Bliss Balls

(omega 3, zinc, magnesium)


  • Cup of pitted dates
  • 1 tbsp chia seeds
  • 1-2 tbsp maple syrup
  • 1 tbsp of milk (almond or oat)
  • ¼ cup coconut
  • ¼ cacao chocolate
  • Handful of cashew nuts (can be left out if allergies)



Place in a food processor and mix, once mixed roll into balls and coat with coconut, then refrigerate.

Egg muffins

(protein, energy, calcium, iron)


  • 6 eggs
  • 2 tbsp chopped onion
  • ¼ cup cooked bacon
  • ¼ shredded cheddar cheese



Whisk eggs and onion together, add ingredients, pour into muffin tray and bake for 15-20 minutes.

Protein pancakes

(protein, vitamin B6, whole grains, fibre)


  • 1 banana
  • 75g oats
  • 1 scoop protein powder
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 tbsp baking powder



Prepare as you would regular pancakes

If you pre-cook these and leave them in the fridge to be warmed up after school or eat cold.

Strawberry and banana milkshake

(protein, omega 3, calcium, antioxidants, vitamin B6)


  • 500ml coconut or almond milk
  • ½ cup Greek unsweetened yoghurt
  • 1 cup of strawberries
  • 1 banana
  • 1tbs chia seeds
  • 1tbs hemp seeds
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla extract



Blend and enjoy!

You can freeze this into portions for your child and keep in a zip lock bag in the freezer, they can be independently placed in a blender, with milk and vanilla added and blended to make an “easy snack”.

For more information:



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