All-Star After School Snacks

August 29, 2017

It’s important to set a great example for your kids and that includes healthy snacking. Find out some of the best snacks for after school eats.

For most families, school is in full swing and SupermarketGuru wants to help retailers guide parents in the importance of healthy after school snacks. 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 eating habits and a good relationship with food, especially fruits and vegetables.

Help parents make it as easy as possible for children, at any age to make the right choices for snacks. When moms and dads make snacks they like to eat, their children will capture that enthusiasm as they mimic eating habits. It may be more convenient sometimes to grab some chips, or cookies and a sugary beverage, but childrens' health, and the whole family, will undoubtedly benefit when deliciousl healthful snacks are made available.

Here are some SupermarketGuru 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 juicy 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 great defrosted and mixed in with a scoop of ricotta cheese or plain yogurt. When in season, papayas, mangoes, melons, and kiwis are wonderful snacks. Make sure to shop for what’s in season, it’s more delicious, nutritious and your body will thank you.

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 great snacks include a small bottle of kefir 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 grownups. 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!

When the cold days are here, 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.

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 stalks 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 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. 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.

Also always strive to serve kids whole grains, as they are full of fiber and tons of vitamins and minerals.