After School Nutritious Snacks

September 27, 2010

As most parents are finally settling back into the school day routine, Supermarket Guru wants to remind parents of the importance of healthy after school snacks- as well as keeping the refrigerator and pantry stocked with healthy treats

As most parents are finally settling back into the school day routine, Supermarket Guru wants to remind parents of the importance of healthy after school snacks - as well as keeping the refrigerator and pantry stocked with healthy treats. After-school snacks are as essential for younger kids as they are for teenagers, who are bursting with energy and need to “refuel” frequently because they're growing! Care must be taken that they grow up with healthy teeth and bones, good skin that glows with health.

Make it as easy as possible for your children, at any age, to make the right choices for snacks. When you make snacks you like to eat, your children will capture your enthusiasm as they mimic your eating habits. It may be more convenient sometimes to rip open a pack of potato chips and down a cola, but your children's health, and yours, will undoubtedly benefit when you take just a few minutes to make sure they have these deliciously healthful snacks available.

Here are some Supermarket Guru favorites:

Fresh fruit is so easy to buy and to have around the house. Just peel a banana and enjoy! Munch an apple or sink your teeth into a juice pear or peach. There's always something from the fruit world in season whether it's stone fruit or berries in the summer or apples and oranges year 'round. Frozen berries and other fruits taste totally yummy defrosted and mixed in an icy cold glass of milk or as a scoop on some ricotta cheese or plain yogurt. When in season, papayas, mangoes, melons, and kiwis are wonderful snacks.

High protein dairy snacks are delicious and easy to prepare. Try low-fat cottage cheese sprinkled with your favorite seasonings like chili pepper, pepper, or Italian spices, or serve with a circle of pineapple, chopped pears or apples, or a small handful of green or red grapes. Other good dairy choices are 4 ounces of plain yogurt, one to two ounces of cheddar cheese with apples or whole grain crackers or a thick slice of mozzarella with a slice of fresh tomato either with a sprinkle of balsamic vinegar and olive or with a few leaves of fresh basil.

Some other high-protein snacks include a small bottle of kefir (a yogurt-like drink) or mozzarella string cheese. Teenagers can enjoy fruit smoothies made with milk, juice or plain yogurt, with or without a dollop of protein powder. Recipes for smoothies are as plentiful as fruit itself; just use fresh fruit, good dairy products, and whip it up, no sugar needed!

The blender is also a great tool for freshly made vegetable juices. Use it for blending leftover veggies or use fresh ones with water or add a little vegetable or chicken stock, blend, heat and serve as a pureed soup or hot drink.

Crudités aren't just for grownup buffets. Cut up stalks of celery, buy some baby peeled carrots, slice some colorful bell peppers (red, yellow, green or purple) and tell the kids to dive in. Lightly blanched cauliflower or broccoli florets are also delicious for snacking. All are delicious on their own; no dips necessary!

On cold wintry days, think hot for snacks: hot vegetable soup, hot home-made chicken soup, hot stir fried veggies with brown rice or a bowl of hot cereal like oatmeal topped with a spoonful of plain unsweetened apple sauce for sweetening. Cereal isn't just for breakfast anymore!

Small quantities of raisins or currants, nuts (pistachios, cashews, almonds, walnuts) or a home-made trail mix of raisins and nuts and seeds like pumpkin seeds are delicious with a small glass of milk or juice.

Peanut, almond, sunflower and other nut butters aren’t just for sandwiches. Slather sliced apples with it, or fill celery crudités with it, or add it to delicious whole grain crackers. Nut butters are excellent sources of protein, healthy fats, minerals and vitamins. 

Note: With the great choices of peanut butters available now, what's the best for your children? Freshly ground peanut butter is available at most major supermarkets these days. If not available look for nut butters with simple ingredients, i.e.: nuts and maybe salt and a sweetener. Avoid jarred nut butters with added oils, added fructose or corn syrups. Fresh nut butter is rich tasting and sweet all on its own. 
A serving of fruits or vegetables is ½ cup for most, 1 cup for berries, so you can certainly squeeze in a serving or two at snack time to meet the three to five servings daily for children.