After School Snacks

Reviewed by James Brann, M.D.

After School Snacks That Pack A Punch

When the kids come home, do they grab some chips and a soda for their after-school snack? Time to change some habits. Here are some nutritious, tasty and easy snacks that pack a real nutrition punch.

After School Snacks That Pack A Punch
The kids fly through the front door, backpacks fly through the air, shoes and jackets are left where they fall. You know they came in, you heard them. But, seconds later, they’re gone. So, where are they? In the kitchen, naturally…heads buried deep into the open refrigerator.

It’s a known, scientific fact that all kids are starving when they get home from school. (Could be breathing in all of that chalk dust, maybe?) And, when left to their own devices, sweet or fatty foods top the afternoon snack hit parade. But kids need energizing, healthy snacks to get them through a busy afternoon, so here are some old favorites that you might remember when your mom was watching your nutrition.

Peanut Butter is protein packed and very satisfying – provided your kids (and any friends tagging along) aren’t allergic. And peanut butter isn’t just about PB&J.

Peanut Butter Canoes (Also Known As 'Ants On A Log')
Stuff celery stalks with peanut butter. Top with raisins, grapes, blueberries, dried cranberries, nuts, etc. as the 'passengers'. (This'll amuse your 5-year-old, but don't call them 'passengers" to your 16-year old. Just call them good.) Peanut Butter and Fruit or Veggies Wash and precut your kids’ favorite fruits and veggies and store safely in the fridge so you always have them on hand. Use peanut butter as a healthy dip. (Try it with carrots - you won't believe how good a raw carrot can taste.)

Peanut Butter and Bananas (Oh, The Wonderful Things You Can Do)
Sliced into strips in a sandwich, into discs on crackers, or any ol' way on their own. Or, try this: Peel bananas, insert wooden popsicle sticks, freeze, remove from freezer, thinly layer with peanut butter, roll in unsalted sesame seeds (or raisins, any chopped nuts) - nutritious and delicious. Make one for yourself, too. Serve immediately upon arrival from the bus stop.

Cheese provides calcium and vitamins A and D. Hard cheese, soft cheese, string cheese, there are too many varieties to list. Here are a few new ways to cheese it up after a long day of long division.

Cheesy Shapes
Break out those cookie cutters and start cutting. Any shape will catch their attention (dinosaurs, hearts, bugs), but alphabet cutters are special favorites. They’ll love seeing their names in cheese, especially little Nebuchadnezzar.

Mini Pizzas
Any cheese can be combined with bagels, tortillas, English muffins and a tablespoon or two of last night’s spaghetti sauce. Bake until bubbly, let cool a few minutes and enjoy. (Really, any cheese – even pre-wrapped slices).

Hard-Boiled Eggs
Back on the 'OK to eat list', but in moderation. So, boil up a batch, safely store them and bring one out for a healthy snack. A smidge of salt, or for the more adventurous, a dab of barbecue sauce or hot sauce to top it off. Lots of protein, lots of zing.

Fabulous Fruit Smoothies
Check out the fruit compartment of your fridge and the bowl on the counter. Take your pick of berries, bananas, peaches, oranges, etc. and blend with fruit juice, yogurt, or low fat milk and ice. Sweet and satisfying.

All of these snacks are quick, tasty and fun. They’re much healthier for your kids than cupcakes and they’re convenient, too. Eat them at the kitchen table while working on homework, or in the car on the way to practice.