11 Yummy (and Easy!) After-School Snacks That Nutritionists Give to Their Own Kids
The hours of after school to dinnertime can be bewitching for sure. Your children arrive home from school in a literal state of starvation, what is a parent to do? We've asked nutritionists what they choose for their own kids. Here are some new after-school snack ideas to choose that pack a healthy punch.
Prepare a yogurt parfait
For fruit-lovers, this after-school treat will surely bring a smile. Layer vanilla yogurt with mandarin oranges, blueberries or any fruit your child prefers and top with granola, says Rene Ficek, RD, lead nutrition expert with Seattle Sutton's Healthy Eating. Because of the protein plus antioxidants from the berries, this snack with keep children full until dinner. "Plus, they will love putting together their own parfait and mixing it together," Ficek says. Here are some more kid-friendly yogurt recipes.
Splurge on dark chocolate covered strawberries
Not all treats have to be off-limits, especially after a long school day, "Kids love sweets, so provide them with one that is good for them, Ficek says, "The cocoa bean is rich in a class of plant nutrients called flavonoids. Flavonoids act as an antioxidant, helping protect us from environmental toxins and repairing cell damage, which affects kids as much as it does adults." Dark chocolate has several health benefits and for an added bonus prepare this snack after a test or on a Friday.
Assemble fruit kabobs
Let your children thread pieces of pineapple, mango and papaya on a skewer for a refreshing snack. (Here are some cool tricks for cutting up mangoes and other produce.) "Pineapples contain high amounts of vitamin C, manganese, dietary fiber, and bromelain (an enzyme) mango fruit is rich in pre-biotic dietary fiber, vitamins, minerals, and poly-phenolic flavonoid antioxidant compounds, and papayas are extremely high in Vitamin C, a top antioxidant that is good for the health of one's eyes," Ficek continues. "All these vitamins, minerals, and phytochemicals help kids growing bodies become strong and healthy. Plus it can be a fun activity to have them make their own."
Bake apple carrot muffins
Anita Mirchandani, MS, RD, CDN , a New York based dietitian at Yummy Spoonfuls, says these wholesome and hearty muffins boast nutrition benefits like antioxidants, healthy fat, fiber, potassium and vitamin C. To avoid dairy, a non-dairy option could be one cup of a nut milk variety (don't add water) or a non-dairy yogurt, she says. These muffins will also fare well for on-the-go busy mornings and are also easy to make ahead and freeze. Here are some other healthy breakfast ideas you can use today.
Choose carrots and dip
A quick go-to snack which Vanessa Rissetto, RD, a NYC-metro nutritionist recommends is organic carrots and ranch dip made with low-fat Greek yogurt. She says this snack boasts beneficial fat and fiber which will keep a child full until dinner. "Plus, he'll have fun dipping his carrots," she says. "My son loves carrots—it's literally the only vegetable he will eat." Not only are they good for your eyes, carrots offer a host of other health benefits.
Prepare homemade trail mix
Kristen Smith, MS, RD, is a spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics and creator of 360FamilyNutrition.org. This Atlanta-based nutritionist suggests asking your children to pick what will be in the trail mix. "Not only is my little one obsessed with homemade trail mix, but it also serves as a way for me to offer him a nutrition-packed snack," she says. "We have fun looking through our pantry together finding the three to four ingredients we will include in the trail mix." Smith says she aims to include at least one whole grain cereal and a serving of dried fruit to ensure the snack contains ample fiber. "Many cereal options we keep on hand also offer some added protein. I try to keep the amount of added sugar in check, but we will often add a few animal crackers containing lesser amounts of sugar," she says.
Turn to tuna or salmon in cans or pouches
Nutritionist Rima Kleiner, MS, RD, a blogger at Dish on Fish, is a mother of two. She likes to offer her kids canned or pouched salmon and tuna. "While canned and pouched salmon and tuna are delicious on their own, they're also the perfect ingredients for a quick, nutrient-packed after-school snack that kids will love. Mix either with plain Greek yogurt for a seafood salad that can be served with whole-grain crackers or veggies," Kleiner says. "The best part about this is that the options are seemingly limitless because you can add your favorite ingredients, like dried fruit or nuts, to spice things up a bit more. Salmon and tuna are jam-packed with healthy nutrients—like omega-3 fatty acids and protein—that growing kids need." Check out all the health benefits of fish oils.
Make baked sweet potato fries
Sweet potatoes are not only high in potassium, vitamin C, and dietary fiber, says Kleiner, they are also a great source of beta-carotene, which is important for eye health. "One of my favorite ways to work this sweet veggie into my kid's snacks is by making baked sweet potato fries. Kids will love them because they look like regular French fries, and parents can feel good about this healthy choice," adds Kleiner. Curious about the difference between yams and sweet potatoes?
Whip up a fruit smoothie
As a mom of three, Tiffany DeWitt, RD, MBA at Abbott in Columbus, Ohio, strives to find snacks that are fun and colorful, while also involving them in the cooking process. "One way to give kids a boost of protein is to make a cool smoothie using 100 percent Whey EAS protein powder and add in fresh fruit like strawberries, milk and ice. Make sure to blend it well—you can even let your little one control the buttons—with supervision of course," she says. Check out these other 30 healthy snacking ideas.
Crunchy, colorful and bursting with antioxidants, peppers are a great snack paired with hummus or a bean dip. "Let your kids pick out their dip so they're more inclined to eat their whole snack," says DeWitt. Plus, bell peppers are one of the foods great for taming your tummy.
Pop up some popcorn
Popcorn has antioxidants, fiber, and whole grains, making it a great snack, says DeWitt. "Have your kids give it a flavor kick with a sprinkling of parmesan cheese or cinnamon," she says. Plus, this snack is a crowd-pleaser if your son or daughter has friends over. Check out these nine reasons why munching popcorn is smart.