It's snack time! What are you fixing?
A planned after-school snack is one way to help kids achieve nutritional goals. But a snack is only as good for your kids as you make it.
A study published in the October 2010 issue of Journal of the American Dietetic Association (now Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics) finds that almost 40 percent of total calories consumed by children (2- to 18-year-olds) are from solid fats and added sugars, including soda, fruit drinks and desserts. Parents can play an important role in shrinking this percentage. So move over "empty calorie" snacks!
Nutrition Is Key
That means providing snacks with as many vitamins and minerals as possible without overdoing it on the calories. Luckily nutrient rich food can be absolutely "straight A" delicious. Try these ideas for fun, flavorful after-school snacks.
- Scrambled parfait olé. Chop a whole grain toast slice. Scramble an egg. Layer in a heatproof sundae glass with chunky salsa.
- Hummus fondue. Stir low-sodium vegetable broth into hummus until fondue-like. Serve cool with cubes of fresh whole grain bread and cucumber on bamboo skewers.
- Chips 'n' "favorite fruit" salsa. Have your child choose a seasonal fruit. Finely chop it, and stir ½ cup fruit with ¼ cup salsa. Serve with some whole grain corn tortilla chips – or grilled chicken strips.
- Orange bowl. Scoop out segments from a large orange half. Cut a sliver off the rind on the bottom so it sits. Fill the orange bowl with whole grain cereal and milk of choice. Place orange segments around it like they're sun rays.
- Burger kebabs. Cook a veggie or turkey burger; cut into bite-size pieces; and insert onto bamboo skewers with cherry tomatoes, whole grain pita pieces. Drizzle with ketchup or mustard.
- Smoothie soup. Blend one cup frozen fruit of choice with ½ cup each vanilla yogurt and 100% fruit juice of choice. Serve as chilled soup in a bowl or cantaloupe "bowl."
- Ant attack. Spread a mixture of ¼ cup Neufchatel cheese and 2 tablespoons salsa onto a whole wheat tortilla. Top with shredded leafy greens and scallions ("grass") and black beans ("ants").