After School Snacks for Healthy Kids

after school snacks

How many times have you heard the cry:  “Mum I’m home, what’s to eat?”. Children invariably arrive home from school ravenously hungry.  But instead of raiding the cookie jar opt for healthy after school snacks.    

Sugary snacks such as chocolates, biscuits, crisps and fries are loaded with calories, sugar and fat and contain virtually no nutritional value.  They are also high GI so are rapidly digested and absorbed leaving them feeling hungry again soon after.

Snacking by itself isn’t bad.  In fact, small healthy snacks make sense for children.   Children have small stomachs and need regular meals to keep them topped up.

If they have their lunch at noon but don’t eat dinner until after 6.00 or 7.00 pm, that is far too long to expect a child to go without food.

So an afternoon snack should be large enough to banish the mid-afternoon hunger pangs but not too large as to spoil their appetite for dinner.

So what’s the solution?

Choose snacks that are filling and healthy but not laden with calories.   After school snacks don’t have to be time-consuming or elaborate affairs.  In fact, if you’re busily thinking about or preparing the evening meal, simple and easy is the way to go.

How much food do children need?

The size of the after school snack will largely be determined by the age of the child.  A teenager who is always ravenous will consume far more than a small child.

Be guided by your child.  It should simply take the edge off the hunger, so they still eat their evening meal.

Here are some healthy snack ideas:

Fruit

bowl of fresh fruit

Fresh fruit – choose fruit in season such as apples, pears, bananas, mandarins, watermelon, grapes
Frozen fruit – frozen berries with yogurt are always popular
Dried fruit such as apricots or sultanas
Canned fruit packed in natural juice served with yogurt


Vegetables

Carrot, celery or cucumber sticks with a low fat dip such as hummus, tzatiki, cottage cheese or low-fat cream cheese

Dairy

Yogurt – plain or fruit flavored
Cheese on crispbread, rice crackers or wholegrain crackers
Milkshake made with low-fat milk and a small amount of flavoring
Smoothie made with reduced-fat milk, fruit and yogurt

Nuts


Handful of mixed nuts (preferably unsalted)
Trail mix – mixed nuts and dried fruit

nuts and dried fruit

Bread and Grains

Toast – spread with peanut butter
Toasted English muffin and cheese
Banana bread spread with ricotta and drizzled with honey
Toasted raisin bread spread with margarine
Crackers or crispbread spread with peanut butter, avocado or cottage cheese
Pita Bread served with hummus
Homemade popcorn
Fruit or savory muffin
Toasted sandwich made with low-fat cheese, ham and tomatoes or baked beans
Granola bar


Tips for Healthy Kids Snacks

Sometimes kids can be picky eaters.    If you have trouble getting your kids to eat healthy food, try making it fun and interesting.

  • Make sandwich funny faces with a slice of bread, some cheese, and salad vegetables.  Try using grated carrot or alfalfa sprouts for hair, sliced cucumber and raisins for eyes, currants or a tomato half for the nose and a bell pepper for the mouth.
funny sandwich face
  • Make up a colorful rainbow fruit mix using dried cranberries, dried apple and dried apricots.

  • Thread cubed cheese, green seedless grapes and red seedless grapes onto small bamboo skewers.
  • Make double decker sandwiches by spreading 1 slice of wholemeal bread with 1 tablespoon nutella.  Top with slice of white bread.  Spread with 2 tablespoons fresh ricotta.  Top with slice of whole meal bread.  Cut into squares, fingers or shapes.



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