I’M STARVING! WHAT’S THERE TO EAT?
Picture this: The kids walk in the house, toss their backpacks on the floor and head straight for the pantry where they stuff themselves with salty chips for the rest of the afternoon and end up too full for dinner. Sound familiar? Unfortunately, we’ve all been there. Balancing healthy snack options that fuel the body without ruining dinner is a tall order. But not to worry. We’ve compiled this after-school snacking guide to help you come up with delicious, nutritious snacks that require minimal preparation and will keep your kiddos satisfied until dinnertime.
WHY YOUR KIDS NEED TO SNACK
Kids of all ages experience huge amounts of physical growth and development, and their bodies need extra nourishment after a long day of school. And they need specific amounts of different nutrients depending upon their age: Your kids may be going through a growth spurt that leaves them ravenous all day long or they may have small tummies that need to be re-filled constantly. Either way, a good snack can help them focus on homework better, provide extra energy for all those after-school activities and fill in food groups and nutrients that may have been missed earlier in the day.
6 RULES OF AFTER-SCHOOL SNACKING
For active kids juggling after-school clubs, sports and homework, re-fueling with a wholesome, nutritious snack before dinner is a necessity. But coming up with healthy snack options can become a real chore, especially paired with the daily challenge of planning and preparing school lunches and weeknight meals. It’s tempting to just let your children raid the pantry and binge on pre-packaged cookies and chips. Instead, check out these tips and tricks for planning after-school snacks that will take the edge off hunger without ruining their appetites.
Treat snacks like a mini meal.
Combination snacks that include more than one food group help kids get the nutrients they need to make it through the rest of the day. Include options from at least two food groups or use dinner leftovers to create an easy snack. Most importantly, don’t stress if they don’t eat everything. The goal is to encourage–not force–balanced eating habits.
A macronutrient that is vital for growth and development, protein helps the body build and repair tissues so it’s particularly important for growing children and teenagers. It also satisfies the appetite for longer periods of time so kids will be less likely to beg for a new snack every hour. Lean meat (like turkey slices), eggs, nuts, nut butters and cheese sticks wrapped with seaweed are smart and easy choices.
Leave it front and center.
Children are more likely to eat healthy snacks if they’re easily accessible, so keep fruit on the counter and position cut-up veggies and hummus in the front of the fridge where they can’t be missed.
Mix & match.
Pick a protein source and pair it with a fiber to create a nutritious snack combo that will tide your kids over to the next meal. Think yogurt and fruit, hummus and veggies, cheese and crackers, toast and avocado or a granola bar and milk.
Make it nutrient dense.
When it comes to snacking, make every bite count. Rapidly developing brains and bodies require healthy fats and complex carbs to help regulate moods and energy levels, so instead of filling up on unsubstantial foods like goldfish crackers and veggie straws, offer nutrient dense options like hard-boiled eggs, yogurt and you guessed it–seaweed snacks!
Keep it simple.
It’s easy to fall back on highly processed snacks if things get over-complicated, so don’t overthink it. Stick to snacks that require little to no cooking and only a few ingredients like a cheese quesadilla, a slice of whole-grain bread with nut butter and bananas or sliced apples and a handful of nuts.
A FEW OF OUR FAVORITES
The following recipes are a small sample of our favorite snack ideas. Whether your kids are toddlers or teens, these snacks will keep them satisfied and nourished, just in time for dinner.
Sweet but not too sugary, this deliciously addictive popcorn is sprinkled with buttery bits of seaweed. It’s quick and easy to make, and it can be prepared ahead of time and packed into individual snack packs to eat on the go.
Simple but irresistible, this savory snack comes together in five minutes and features just four ingredients. It’s comfort food that kids of all ages will love.
A fun twist on a classic cheese quesadilla, this snack is delicious, nutritious and easy to make. Seaweed, our favorite superfood, adds extra nutrients, an extra serving of veggies and tons of flavor.
Use leftover rice to whip up this satisfying after-school snack. It’s easy to eat on the go and a yummy way to sneak in extra veggies.