Nutritionists and dieticians agree that healthy snacks are great ways to keep kids active and balanced. "Once the craziness of the school year kicks in, little ones need those extra calories to keep them going," says nutrition consultant and registered dietician Dana White. But creating the perfect snack, especially for a growing child, can be a daunting and perplexing task. How large should the serving sizes be? How many food groups should you include? What if the kids refuse to eat what you’ve made?
Well fret no longer, because we’ve provided foolproof, delicious, and nutritious (well, mostly nutritious) recipe ideas that both you and your kids will adore.
"It’s important for parents to remember that snacks are 'mini-meals' and should provide nutrients kids need to help them grow and develop. Snacks [should] include at least two of the following food groups: fruits, veggies, low or nonfat dairy products (milk, cheese, yogurt), whole grains and lean protein," advises nutrition expert Toby Amidor MS, RD, CDN.
But how can you make sure your kids are enthusiastic about their healthy snacks? "Think ownership, independence, and empowerment — the more involved kids are in the process, the more excited they will be about their snack, or any meal," says Catherine McCord, founder of Weelicious.com and author of Weelicious: One Family. One Meal and Weelicious Lunches: Think Outside the Lunchbox. "Try getting them in the kitchen even once a week so they can say, 'Hey, I made that!' about something they’re about to munch on."
So with that in mind, here are 19 after-school snacks for every taste, schedule, and nutrition need that both you and your kids will make again and again. Whether it is a homemade granola bar, sandwich on a stick, or homemade "fudge," all of these recipes are perfect to make with your kids, because we believe that getting kids into the kitchen is the first and most important step toward bettering their future relationships with food. So use our list as inspiration, find the snacks that work best for you, and get cooking!