After-school snack. Let’s face it. It’s basically the 4th most important meal of the day. And between a full day of school, homework, sports, band, dance and chess club, it should be! Kids are just smaller versions of adults, and if you want them to make it thru the day without a sugar crash or major meltdown, good nutrition in the middle of the day is a great place to start.
You don’t have time to make your own Greek-style yogurt and beef jerky, or maybe you do. But a box of Cheez-Its does not a healthy snack make. The trick to snacks is having options the kids actually like, and getting them to eat it.
Unfortunately, pretty much anything on the shelf at the grocery store with the word SNACK on it is full of sugar, fat and loaded with empty calories.
There are 4 things to keep in mind when considering a snack choice for kids. After all, the whole point is to keep their brains and bodies moving for another 4-5 hours. What should you look for?
- Calories. Depending on your child’s activity level, calories matter. But most kids don’t need a 550-calorie cheeseburger happy meal. Keep it between 200-400 calories. That’s plenty to get them thru until dinner.
- Nutrition. We gotta keep them moving, so the snack should provide a good balance between protein, fat and carbohydrate.
- Timing. Scrambled egg sandwiches are a great option to keep your kid fueled up for sports. But maybe not 10 minutes before swim practice.
- Easy. Good news! You don’t have to spend 40 hours each week sourcing organic hemp seeds and crushing your own almonds for almond butter. That’s what you have Friend That Cooks for! 😉 And for those of you that don’t, we put together a list of 15 awesome choices that go together in a flash.
- Celery, Dried Fruit, Peanut Butter: 2 stalks celery- halved, palmful of small dried fruits- think raisins, cranberries, or chopped banana pieces, 2 tablespoons peanut butter- or almond, sun-nut or other butter of your choice.
- Peanut Butter and Pretzel Sticks: Again, whatever kind of nut or non-nut butter you want, just a couple of tablespoons, and about ¼ cup of pretzel sticks.
- Clementines and Dark Chocolate: For a lighter, sweeter snack idea, pair the easy-to-peel citrus with 1 ounce of dark chocolate. This one makes a tasty dessert for adults too!
- Zucchini Bread Muffins: Add some plain flavored protein powder, or a handful of chopped nuts on top, for an extra protein kick. Check out this recipe here.
- Snack Mix: Avoid unwanted sugars and extra calories and make your own! Trader Joe’s is a great place to stock up on nuts, dried fruits and seeds. Portion out the mix into ¼ cup individual snack bags for even more portion control.
- Granola Protein Bites: There are literally hundreds of recipes on the internet for something like this. But here is one that we’ve tried and our clients really enjoy. The flavor combinations are endless, so feel free to play.
- Fruit and Coconut Water Popsicles: This one is great while the weather is still warm. The electrolyte boost is also perfect for your sports players and dancers.
- Peanut Butter and Banana Toast: It can’t get any simpler than this. Once slice of whole grain bread, 1 Tablespoon PB and a half a banana.
- Hard Boiled Eggs: These are great to have on hand as “add-ons”. Pair with the zucchini bread muffins, or even some hummus and veggies for a protein punch.
- Hummus and Veggies: Sabra makes handy individual cups for even less prep! Sub the hummus for guacamole for something different.
- Tuna Salad and Veggies: 1 can tuna packed in water- drained, 1 celery stalk- chopped, 1 hardboiled egg- chopped, 1 Tablespoon plain Greek yogurt or mayo, 1 tsp yellow or Dijon mustard, salt and pepper. Celery stalks, carrot sticks and cherry tomatoes are all kid friendly and easy to prep ahead.
- Cheese and Crackers or Fruit: 2 ounces of cubed cheese and 5 crackers is all it takes. If you can get away with it, pick a whole grain cracker option for maximum nutrients. 1 small apple or a handful of fresh berries to change it up.
- Yogurt and Fruit: a small palmful of fruit goes really well with Greek yogurt. The natural sugars in the fruit will flavor plain yogurt nicely, so don’t be afraid to give it a try. A few chopped nuts go a long way too.
- Tortilla Roll-ups: Think small, fajita sized tortillas, wrapped around some leftover meat from last night’s dinner, a smear of hummus, guac or spreadable cheese and voila! Sliced bell peppers fit nicely inside that roll-up if you want to sneak in some veggies.
- Nuts and Everything: 1 ounce, or about a palmful of roasted almonds or pistachios pair nicely with fruit, cheese or just about anything else. The protein and fat content of the nuts keep the energy flowing until dinnertime.