We’re celebrating Back-To-School time all this month. Catch up with us here. This week’s topic is healthy snacks for all.
Snacks are an important part of a good eating plan. They help keep your blood sugar and energy steady by making sure you eat every 3 or 4 hours; they take the edge off late afternoon hunger so that dinner is not a free-for-all; and they help make sure you’re getting all of the nutrients that you should.
After-school snacks are important for kids to make sure they’re also getting all the nutrients they need during the day. Given that some school lunchtimes are at 10:30 or 11, your kids may be really hungry by the time they get home. Feed them right with these snack ideas:
- energy bars: Choose bars that have the most whole ingredients and the least chocolate coating. Good brands include Larabar and Kashi.
- fresh fruit, celery or whole grain crackers with a tablespoon of natural (no sugar added) peanut butter
- ¼ cup dried fruit & ¼ cup nuts
- medium nonfat latte (feel free to add a dash of cocoa powder if you like)
- ¼ cup hummus with raw vegetables
- 1 cup fresh fruit with ½ cup low-fat cottage cheese
- 8 ounces nonfat yogurt with 6 walnuts
- ½ cup high fiber cereal (Kashi Go Lean is great) with ½ cup nonfat milk
- 80 calories of dark chocolate and a small peach
- whole grain crackers (Kashi TLC crackers are good) with 1 stick of low-fat string cheese
- ½ cup nonfat frozen yogurt, plain (this means no added candy, fudge swirls, etc.)
- ¾ cup shelled edamame
- 2 slices low-salt turkey and a small bunch of grapes
- one hard-boiled egg drizzled with 1 measuring teaspoon of good olive oil and freshly grated black pepper
- one serving (about 20 chips) of Kettle Baked Potato Chips
Many of the same suggestions I make for adults are great snacks for kids. Sometimes, we need to increase the fun quotient to make healthy snacks more interesting for them. Let them play with their food a little bit if that makes them eat more.
- Let them pop edamame out of the shell.
- Smile! Slice hard-boiled eggs in half, place on a plate yolk-side up for eyes; an almond for a nose and a drizzle of pesto for a smile
- Make a yogurt parfait: layer yogurt and sliced fresh fruit in a glass sundae dish. Top with a cherry.
- Kids (and adults) love to dip. Give them a bowl of hummus or fresh salsa and sliced fresh veggies.
- We’ve got ants! Spread celery, apple slices, whole grain crackers with peanut butter and top with raisin “ants”.
- Make a healthy “milkshake” with fresh fruit, milk or yogurt and ice. Let them use a fun crazy straw to slurp it down.
- More dipping! For a sweet treat, give them Stacy’s Cinnamon Sugar Pita Chips to dip in applesauce (no sugar added, 100% apples).
In the spirit of getting them involved, designate a shelf in the pantry and refrigerator that they can access easily. Fill these with healthy snacks that you’re happy to have them eat. They should still ask if it’s okay to have a snack (especially as you get closer to dinner), and this allows them a little autonomy to pick what they want with your (pre) approval.
Make snacks fit your schedule. If you’re hungry between breakfast and lunch, have a snack. I find most people are hungry between lunch and dinner, so that’s a great snack time. Maybe some days you’re having two snacks. If you’re making healthy choices, you’re hungry and it fits into your overall eating plan, snack away!