It's quite natural to catch your kids rummaging through the fridge or pantry right after they get home from school. They need proper nourishment for their growing bodies, and sometimes dinner is just too long of a wait for their next meal. With that in mind, it's important to have healthy and nutritious after school snacks readily available. Here are 10 snack ideas you can try that are quick and easy to make:
1. Vegetable Dippers
This is an excellent treat for your kids to munch on, and it's a great way to get them to eat the vegetables they would usually avoid on their dinner plate. Start by picking out the vegetables you want to serve your kids. These vegetables seem to work best:
Then, either purchase or make your own healthy vegetable dip. Hummus, Greek yogurt and homemade salsa make great dips, and can even add more protein and other essential nutrients to this great after school snack.
2. Fruit Wedges
Fruit wedges are a common staple for healthy after school snacks. All you have to do is pick out an assortment of fruits that can be chopped into fun, bite-size pieces, chill them in the fridge overnight, then serve them the next day. Cantaloupes, pineapples, and melons work well for this dish. Try serving them with a tiny dash of salt for an interesting sweet-and-salty flavor.
3. Whole Grain Graham Crackers
For an after school snack, you might want to avoid a heavy helping of carbs that might make your kids too full for dinner. Instead of cookies or cupcakes, try serving them some whole grain graham crackers instead to satisfy their sweet tooth. You can even spread on a little non-fat or low-fat yogurt, ice cream or frozen yogurt right before you serve them for an even tastier treat. Using these foods as a spread is a lot healthier than serving them as an entire snack.
4. Tuna and Crackers
Squeeze in a little protein in their after school snack with some tuna and crackers. Aim for whole grain crackers that have little or no salt, and try to avoid adding unhealthy condiments to the tuna like mayonnaise. If anything, try adding a tiny dollop of sweet relish to the tuna to give it some zest. This is a great, healthy snack because it also provides your kids with beneficial omega 3 fatty acid.
5. Skinny Parfait
Head to the store and grab some low-fat or non-fat yogurt for your kids. It might not seem appealing at first, but with a couple of easy ingredients, you can transform this plain dairy food into a healthy and delicious treat by turning it into a skinny parfait:
- Throw some of your child's favorite breakfast cereal into a cup.
- Add a layer of yogurt over the cereal.
- Cover the yogurt with strawberries or any other type of sweet berry your child would like. Bananas also work well.
- Add a second layer of yogurt and some more cereal to top it all off!
You can prepare the skinny parfait in the morning or the night before and leave it in the fridge for your kids to eat after school.
6. Unsweetened Applesauce with Cinnamon
Many parents can easily mistake a cup of applesauce to be a healthy after school snack. After all, it's basically apples in puree form, right? Unfortunately, many brands you'll find at the supermarket contain an excess amount of sugar to make the applesauce sweet. You can try making your own applesauce at home with ripe apples, or buying unsweetened applesauce for a healthier alternative for your kids. Add a dash of cinnamon to give the applesauce more flavor.
7. Fruit Smoothies
A healthy fruit smoothie is a great way to get your kids a boost in vitamin C, while keeping things fun and refreshing. Choose their favorite fruits to throw in a blender with some ice and yogurt. You can even add a little honey to sweeten the mix. If you want to be a little more creative, this is a great time to get your kids to eat some vegetables without them knowing. Just puree some of their most hated vegetables, like spinach or broccoli, and add it to the mixture. Just be sure not to add too much of the vegetable puree to the smoothie. You still want the fruit flavors to mask the vegetables, or else your kids won't drink them.
8. Chocolate Dipped Bananas
Here's an easy after school snack to make:
- Split some bananas into halves.
- Dip the halved bananas in some melted, dark chocolate.
- Freeze the dipped bananas overnight, then serve.
This is a healthy after school snack that will get your kids a good boost in calcium and potassium along with some healthy flavonols from the dark chocolate. Just make sure you only dip the tips of the bananas into the dark chocolate for a healthier snack.
9. Trail Mix
Trail mix is a common after school snack that most kids love. Avoid the store bought mixes that might not be the healthiest options for your kids. Instead, try buying your own, unsalted peanuts, walnuts and almonds mixed with some raisins, whole grain pretzels and even some dark chocolate chips for a sweet-and-salty flavor.
10. Chicken Lettuce Wraps
If you've got older kids or kids who need more than some crackers and fruits for an after school snack, try making them some chicken lettuce wraps. Make sure you use chicken breast to get the leanest, healthiest part of the chicken for the wraps. Using lettuce instead of a flour-based wrap should keep them from getting too full before dinner.