After School Snacks (Slideshow)
Since the much-loved hot dog may be a bit too heavy for a midday snack, swap a dog out for a sweet banana. Filled with potassium and vitamins, this energizing fruit is perfect to re-boot your kids after a long day, and the creative way it's served will leave them delighted. Replace ketchup with jam of your choice, and mustard with peanut butter, and you have a power-packed dish. Extra points for a whole-grain bun! Since the banana may be our favorite after-school snack ingredient, check out tons of other fun and creative banana recipes in Bananas Bananas Everywhere.
Mini sushi sandwiches are a light and fun twist on the go-to staple. Fill with vegetables, meats, cheeses, and sauces of your choice on either whole-grain or gluten-free bread, depending on your little one's diet. For step-by-step assembly instructions, follow the Sara Lee Deli Kid Sushi Recipe. These are also great for making with your kids the night before, where they will then be able to choose their favorite fillings and will therefore be more likely to gobble them up when they get home.
fromvalskitchen.com - Sara Lee Deli Kid Sushi
"Each time you go to the supermarket, allow your child to pick one new fruit or veggie they’ve never tried before, then experiment with it together," advises Sass.
This best part about these yogurt poppers is that the technique can be used with almost any fruit out there, whether it is berries, melon chunks, or grapes. Follow this Yogurt Strawberries recipe which uses Greek yogurt, which is higher in protein and easier on lactose-sensitive stomachs.
This snack is a perfect excuse to get kids into the kitchen and prepare the night before together. They'll be eager to eat something that they customized and created themselves.
sparkrecipes.com - JWOHLDMANN
Who doesn't love food on a stick? Who doesn't love a sandwich? Give your kids the best of both worlds as they arrive home from school with these sandwich sticks. Make them right before the kids get home, or assemble them together the night before, allowing kids to pick their favorite bread, meat, cheese, and vegetable of choice.
You can't deny that these bite-sized treats are simply adorable. Courtesy of the creativity of Rose Bakes, these Nutter Butter Cones are sweet, fun, and easy to assemble. You could of course buy your favorite flavor frosting at any grocery store, or if you're feeling extra crafty, make our easy White Fluff Frosting from scratch with your kids, just another excuse to get them in the kitchen! Just dip, sprinkle, let set, and serve. And the best part, no sticky melting ice cream fingers included.
These mini dippers are such a fun protein punch in your kid's day, and they can be incredibly healthy. Consider buying some lean turkey sausages instead of the conventional dogs. "Kids love an interactive snack, so look for opportunities to include dressing, dips, and sauces," says McCord. Make this treat more personal and homemade by following this Guide to Making Your Own Ketchup,
justputzing.com - Octopus Sausages
"Kids like to crunch, but that doesn’t have to mean a cracker. Try freeze-dried fruits and vegetables like Just Tomatoes, Etc..." advises Boyle.
Considering taking a break from conventional dried fruit, which can be filled with excess added sugar, and try out versatile freeze-dried fruit, which is crunchy, sweet, and packed with natural nutrients without any added ingredients. Add to yogurt, such as our Strawberry-Ginger Honeyed Yogurt, sprinkle over your morning oatmeal (click here for Oatmeal 5 Ways!), or simply serve plain. Who can pass up a snack that is both crunchy and healthy?
Flickr.com - chotda
Yes, chocolate fudge can be a filling and nutritious snack for your kids, and they'll have no idea that this snack is so good for them, packed with healthy fats, fiber, and essential vitamins. Watch them deviously giggle, thinking they're eating candy as you watch with pride. The best part is, this recipe has only two ingredients! Courtesy of Kelly Cornell, simply combine 1 to 2 tablespoons of organic raw cacao powder with 1 to 2 tablespoons of your favorite nut butter, and chill for a few hours until it's all solidified
Flickr.com - Lee McCoy
Kids already adore pizza, but this lighter approach uses whole-wheat pita bread with fiber to keep them satisfied until dinner, and vitamin-rich grapes and herbs that look appealing on the plate, as if kids needed another reason to grab a slice of pizza. Click here for this Grape and Ricotta Pita Pizza Recipe.
Another cost-effective, healthy, and versatile dish you can make with your kids are energy bars. "These are fabulous choice to refuel after sports," says registered dietician and nutrition consultant Dana White. "I make big batches and store them in the freezer. If peanut allergies are a concern, you can modify the recipe using soy nut butter and crushed pretzels in place of the peanut butter and chopped peanuts." Click here for the recipe.
Since a fried fish fillet and batch of french fries may be a bit too heavy for an after-school snack, try our simple and fun Gone Fishin' Snack Mix, combining child-adored Goldfish crackers, pretzels, almonds, and perhaps the occasional gummy worm to add a sense of fun and pop of color. Easy to prepare and easy to eat, this snack is perfect for when you didn’t have time to prepare a snack the night before.
We all played with Legos as kids — with these cute miniature Lego-shaped sandwiches, your kids can chomp on their favorite toy without winding up in the hospital. Although you are free to make any type of sandwich of your liking, we suggest the classic PB&J, which will hold the Legos together as they wait for your kids on the counter. But we don't want you to make just any PB&J, but the best possible. Here is a guide on How to Make the Perfect Peanut Butter and Jelly Sandwich.
Popcorn may just be the ultimate midday snack — it's light, crunchy, packed with healthy antioxidants and fiber, and is endlessly customizable!
"For a savory snack, make an old-fashioned batch of stovetop popcorn (1 tablespoon sunflower oil and 1/4 cup organic kernels per person) garnished with dried herb seasonings or powdered chipotle," advises Sass.
For ideas and recipes on how to enhance this popping treat, check out 12 Ways to Spice Up Popcorn. Make one variety a week, and you practically have the entire semester covered!
Also, we can't stress enough how important it is to shift from conventional microwave popcorn to making it without preservatives and additives on the stove. Check out our 5 Reasons to Make Popcorn on the Stove and whip up a much healthier batch for both you and your kids.
Flickr.com - bour3
Another fun and appetizing way to get fresh produce into your kids’ diets, these vitamin C-rich strawberries filled with light, sweet cream are a light and refreshing treat to welcome them home with. After slicing off the stems off each berry and scooping out the centers with a spoon or cherry pitter, fill each with whipped cream, or try our delicious Cheesecake-Stuffed Strawberries recipe, which uses light cream cheese and sugar-free sweetener alternative to prevent a crash later.
"When kids come back from school, they are pretty famished. It’s the perfect time to put out a plate of colorful vegetables (like carrots, sliced bell peppers, and cucumbers) with a dip such as hummus," says Toby Amidor MS, RD, CDN.
Check out our six Dip-Worthy Hummus Recipes and give your kids a healthy dip that goes beyond basic ketchup.
Also, if your kids are resistant to eat their vegetables, take Sass' advice: "Kids love finger foods, but if you want to make the veggies a little more enticing, grill or oven-roast them, then chill and serve with hummus for dipping — this will bring out the veggies' natural sweetness."
Flickr.com - aubreymae84
Although there are countless premade granola's on grocery store shelves, they are often filled with excess oils, preservatives, and unnecessary ingredients you and your family don't need. Also, by making your own granola at home, you'll be able to customize a mix that's perfect for your tastes, and it's a fun and easy way to get kids cooking with you. Check out our basic Granola Recipe for directions and inspiration, and also our Gluten-Free Flax Cranberry Granola for gluten-free alternatives.
Flickr.com: Gabriel Li // StudioGabe
Both you and your kids will feel as if you're popping a delectable and fancy dessert, but it's secretly an incredibly healthy snack, packed with vitamins, fiber, and healthy essential fats. Place our Healthy Chocolate Pudding Recipe into a piping bag, and squirt a bit of pudding onto each banana slice. This pudding is actually made with avocado instead of egg yolks or heavy cream, and is free of any refined sugar or preservatives. We promise, it's just as chocolaty tasting as the original, so your taste buds will never know the difference.
Whole Foods Market
"Having a cabinet full of canned beans like chickpeas and black beans is as simple as being stocked up on cereal. Pop open a can, rinse the beans and offer them as part of a meal or packaged in a baggie as a snack for on-the-go. Packed with fiber, protein and lots of nutrients this is a no-brainer. Plus, soft beans like cannellini are easy on gums," advises nutritionist Katie Cavuto Boyle, president of Healthy Bites. When your kids arrive home from school, have an array of ingredients from our 7 Layer Dip Recipe and let them create their own personalized dip. Extra points for vegetables instead of chips!
"A simple apple or pear, sliced and served with a dollop of nut or seed butter is another easy option," says Sass. "There are a variety of options to choose from these days, from almond, cashew, walnut, and pecan butter to sunflower seed and pumpkin seed butters." Apples are undeniably sweet, and peanut butter is universally adored by most kids, so now all you have to do is add a bit of creativity to the mix to make a snack-worthy bite your kids will love. Oh, and the gummy worm doesn't hurt. This Wormy Peanut Butter Apples recipe is a great example of how to get creative with these fun ingredients.