Guest Post – Wesley Reacher, 5 Healthy After School Snacks For Kids
Posted Oct 14 2012 8:12am
To most kids, the time between lunch at school and dinner can seem like an eternity. They don’t need rumbly stomachs to remind them that they haven’t eaten in about four hours and that dinner won’t be served for another two hours or so, once everybody’s home from work. The afterschool snack’s origin is surrounded by mystery. No one knows where it came from, or if it just popped into existence after the first day of the first school. Regardless of its origin, the after school snack is here to stay and it’s up to us to make it fun and nutritious.
The nutrition challenge
The biggest challenge that parents can face today in terms of not only providing healthy foods to their children but getting them to eat the food once it’s served is school lunches.
The biggest challenge that parents can face today in terms of not only providing healthy foods to their children but getting them to eat the food once it’s served is school lunches. Even if we pack a healthy lunch for our kids every day, which is next to impossible, they will still be exposed to the unhealthy, fast-food style lunches at school. While there isn’t much we can do about what they eat while at school, we can definitely provide better alternatives for them once they’re home. There is no better place to start than with after school snacks.
The Snack Trifecta: quick, tasty, nutritious
The problem with most unhealthy food is that it’s darn quick and easy to make. Fried potato chips, frozen pizza rolls, hot pockets, and frozen corn dogs (and much more), are easy to prepare, are filling, and are full of empty calories and enough sodium to choke a pony. To make the perfect after school snack your kid is sure to love, you need to make your healthy option as much if not more tasty than the unhealthy option. There’s the rub. The problem with the unhealthy snacks is that they taste absolutely incredible, at least to a kid. I’ve come up with 10 healthy alternatives to unhealthy snacks that will satisfy all points of the snack trifecta.
Chips and Salsa
This classic healthy snack is about as easy to prepare as it gets. Just make sure that the chips are of a whole grain and baked variety with as little sodium as possible. Pretty much any salsa will do, but you could even go as far as to make homemade salsa. Feel free to add some fat-free and/or low cal cottage cheese for extra taste and healthy protein.
Homemade Trail Mix
It’s not as daunting as you might think to make your own nutritious and great tasting trail mix for your kids. The hardest part, (and it’s not really that hard) is buying all of the separate components, then combining them into the finished trail mix product. Luckily, your kids can be a big help when it comes to this and they will have fun doing it too. At your local grocery store, simply head to bulk bins and buy the peanuts, raisins, M&M’s, almonds, dried cranberries, pitted dates, or whatever else you like in your mix. Once you have a good one half to a full pound of each, then have your kids help you mix them all together in a big bowl at home. Your homemade trail mix will last and last and your kids can take pride in knowing that they helped.
Veggie chips with hummus
There are a lot of great all-natural veggie based chips out there. Pick up your family’s favorite baked veggie chip and serve them with some fresh hummus and salsa for a delicious veggie based snack that will satisfy just about any picky eater.
Hard Boiled Eggs with String Cheese and/or pickles
If your kids are picky or just like very plain or uncomplicated foods, then set out a plate with about two hard boiled eggs per kid along with some dill pickles and/or string cheese. They will get a huge protein boost, and the fiber from the pickles will help keep them satisfied until dinner time comes around. It’s a super quick snack to prepare as well!
Cottage Cheese and Fruit
Cottage cheese is just about the world’s best source of whey and casein proteins. It can be high in calories and sodium, but if you shop for a healthier choice, it can definitely turn into a health food snack staple around the house. The great thing about casein is that it is a slow releasing protein, which keeps the body fed for hours and hours, which makes it the perfect thing to ward off hunger in the little ones. Serve your favorite cottage with chunks of fresh fruit for a nutritious and satisfying snack that will keep their stomachs from complaining until dinner time.
Regardless of what you decide to feed your kids for snacks, just make sure that they love them and that you can feel good about what they’re putting into their growing bodies. If your snacks can satisfy all of the criteria of the “snack trifecta,” then you can win your child’s heart and make sure they have the best nutrition possible, at least when you are around. The bottom line is that you have fun and that your kids enjoy snack time, no matter what you feed them.
- Wesley Reacher has a B.S. in Kinesiology with a Minor in Sports Medicine. When he’s not gunning his lats at the gym or tearing it up on the frisbee golf course, he’s blogging for Weightnot.com, a great resource for healthy weight loss .