5 Easy & Healthy After School Snacks
It is back to school time so here is a great list of 5 Healthy & Easy After School Snacks you AND your kids can enjoy! After a long busy day at school kids come home hungry and reaching for snacks, but as our current childhood obesity epidemic statistics show the snacks they have been grabbing may not be very good for them. As school lunch breaks get earlier to accommodate the number of students in larger school districts, our kids are more likely to come home truly hungry. It is difficult to deny them a snack when we know that dinner typically will not be served for another 2 to 3 hours. Yet, what can we give them that satisfies but doesn’t “ruin their appetite” nor become simply wasted calories? I’ve compiled a list of great items to use as healthy substitutes for calorie laden go-to-snacks we have become so use to having.
Tip: Spend an hour each Sunday afternoon prepping the fruits and vegetables for the snacks listed below. Depending on number of kids and space in the refrigerator it’s possible to even portion these out into individual storage containers in the refrigerator for truly grab and go. If space is limited, prep for the whole week and leave in one container then educate your children on portion control and its importance.
5 Easy & Healthy After School Snacks
1. Graham Cracker Sandwich “Cookies”. Tackle their inner cookie craving with a simple and healthier version of a sandwich cookie. Break one graham cracker in half (creating 2 squares). Place 1 teaspoon whipped topping or whipped cream on each cracker. Place 8-10 fresh or frozen blueberries, strawberries, mango or favorite fruit slices (unsweetened) between the two crackers creating a sandwich style treat. We prefer the blueberries due to the pop when taking a bite and the high antioxidants that are needed to help prevent cancer and other illnesses.
2. Pretzel Kabobs. Growing kids definitely need the added calories of good proteins and dairy. One of our favorite ways to provide this is by making pretzel kabobs. Using stick pretzels, “spear” cubes of low fat cheese and lean meats such as turkey or chicken breast. While some may want to use deli style lunch meats, our family tries to avoid the added preservatives. Use what is best for your family. Once a month we do a grill and bake day to help with this. We marinate and grill several pounds of chicken breasts to be stored and marked appropriately in the freezer. At that time you can easily cut the chicken into 1” cubes to be pulled out each week and used for these snacks. We also bake 1-2 turkey breasts per month and portion the meat for freezer storage and easy use as needed. It is both cost effective but healthier as well.
3. Air Popped Popcorn. This one needs to be done on demand as even in the best storage methods air popped popcorn can go stale very quickly. If you have an air popper it is simple to do. Other alternate methods are to pop in a large pan over the stove or using a simple brown paper lunch bag in the microwave. Place 1/8 cup popcorn kernels in bottom of the bag folding top over tightly. Put in microwave for 2 minutes listening for pops. You may have to adjust cook times according to your microwave adding or subtracting in 30 second increments. My kids love plain air popped corn but you may have children who want it “seasoned”. Our two favorite healthier seasonings are: Grated Parmesan cheese with cracked black pepper, Taco Seasoning (Cumin, Garlic & Salt in equal parts can be substituted) and cinnamon sugar.
4. Fruit Dip. Kids love dipping things and they love sweet treats but it’s easy to over indulge with both. We found a great dip that satisfies our kids dipping desires but doesn’t break the calorie bank. You can use any fresh or frozen fruit you or your child desires. For dip, mix 1 small carton low fat vanilla yogurt with 1 teaspoon cinnamon and 1 teaspoon honey. Easy and delicious fruit dip.
5. Trail Mix. A classic that must be on every list. Popular varieties sold in stores often include things like marshmallows and chocolate pieces. It may be fun but it isn’t always the healthy choice. I prefer to mix a batch and portion out in baggies each week for grab and go. My favorite blend includes: 1 Cup Roasted Pumpkin Seeds, 1 Cup Roasted Sunflower Seeds, 1 Cup Roasted Cashews, 1 Cup Salted Peanuts, ½ Cup each Red and Golden Raisins, ½ Cup Dried Cranberries (unsweetened), ½ Cup Dried Chopped Pineapple. Simply mix all together in a large bowl and then scoop one cup portions into snack sized baggies and store to be grabbed throughout the week.
Remember that the list above is just an idea and guideline. You know your children and their particular tastes in foods. Adapting flavors, proteins, fruits, etc. is relatively easy. Think outside the box for different items that might interest them yet provide a long lasting satisfaction instead of a quick fix, or simply work to create healthier versions of their go-to junk foods snack of choice. Feed them foods that fuel their bodies, not just satisfy their taste buds.
Find more Back to School Recipe Ideas.