Snack food could very easily be synonymous with ‘Junk food’ that is often processed and high in fat, salt, and sugar, but it doesn’t have to be. Instead, they can be seen as mini-meals to keep your little people fuelled throughout the day – especially in the time between getting home and eating dinner. Kids who have after school activities or physical activities where there are no school snack programs could be especially ravenous when they get home.
The perfect snack has between 150 and 200 calories and contains more than one food group. That way, you can help your child reach the recommended daily requirements of nutrients that their growing bodies and minds need. By including food that is low in added salt, sugar, and saturated fat, you can teach them healthy eating habits early on.
Young children need to eat three meals a day, with at least two snacks in-between. Older kids need to eat three meals with at least one snack per day. Children who are more physically active or going through a growth spurt are likely to need more fuel and, therefore, more snacks.
Kids who arrive home from school likely haven’t eaten in a few hours – and it’s still at least a couple of hours before dinner time. Hungry munchkins will grab anything quick and convenient to fill their tummies. You can help your child make better food choices making more nutritious food readily available for them.
Healthy snacks don’t have to be boring, and something mom wants you to eat. By adding some variety and incorporating ingredients that kids like into yummy snack recipes, you can give your kids healthy, nutrient-rich snacks. Besides food with higher nutritional values, you might also want to consider including foods with a low GI (glycemic index). These food digest slowly, keeping your kid feel fuller for longer. Low GI food also does not create havoc with your kid’s blood sugar levels – meaning no bouncing off the walls and no crashing afterward.
After school, snacks don’t need to involve elaborate recipes. Instead, aim at including a variety of healthy and nutritional foods.
Whole foods are plant products that haven’t been processed or refined. They give you all the natural goodness like protein, fiber, and nutrients like vitamins and minerals. These foods usually do not have added salt or sugar, lowering their sodium intake and keeping their blood sugar level from spiking. It gives your kids long-lasting energy while keeping them fuller for longer.
Fruit and berries with nuts have plenty of nutrients while giving kids the sweetness that they sometimes crave. Try mixing things up by adding fresh or frozen fruit to low-fat yogurt or making a smoothie. Frozen fruit has the same nutritional value as fresh fruit but is slightly cheaper. It is also great in your recipes when you are looking at using fruit that is out of season.
Snack time is also a fun time to add some vegetables into your child’s diet. Cut them into interesting shapes, or serve them with a dip to make eating fun. Kids especially love miniature vegetables like baby corn and carrot balls or cherry tomatoes (yes, even if it is technically a fruit).
Dairy, nuts (or nut butters), eggs, hummus, and lean meat are all excellent sources of protein. Protein helps to maintain your body’s lean muscle mass and keeps you feeling fuller for longer.
Nut butters, like Crazy Richard’s pure peanut, almond, or cashew butter is an easy way to sneak protein, vitamins, and minerals into your children’s diet – and they will love you for it! Nut butters are naturally sweet and creamy – yes, even crunchy peanut butter. That makes them perfect to go into everything from oatmeal to yogurt and smoothies. They are high in protein and nutrients and even have healthy fats that are essential for your child’s development. They also make great add-ons for fruit and veggies like apple slices and celery sticks.
Soda is both high in calories and sugar with very little nutritional value. Swap out that pop can for pure fruit juice, milk, water, or herbal tea sweetened with honey or maple syrup. Remember that even 100% pure fruit juice can be high in natural sugar, so stick to around 4 ounces per serving.
Kids, especially hungry ones, will go for the most accessible snacks that they can get. It is much more tempting to reach for a bag of potato chips or some chocolate chip cookies than to cut some fruit or make a healthy sandwich. You can encourage your child to eat more healthy snacks by preparing them in advance and making them ready to grab and eat. You might also consider making gluten free snacks. Or you can get snacks that are already ready to eat like our Crazy Richard’s Wholly Rollies!
Having choices and being allowed to make choices – even if it is from a limited selection – helps children feel empowered and have some sense of control in their lives. Take some time to speak to your child about what they like and what they would like to try. Listen to what they have to say; sometimes, even just something as simple as switching to a different brand could take something from ‘There is no way I’m eating that!’ to ‘I love this!’
You could even take them with you when you go shopping to see if there are any new products that they would like. Use this time to teach them about eating delicious meals with a higher nutritional value over something high in calories with little nutritional content.
Older children might enjoy making their own snacks. You can place all the ingredients together (along with a recipe) in a separate container or shelf in the fridge to help them make a nutritious snack when they get home from school.
Pre-make snack packs or containers and keep them in the pantry or fridge where your child can get to it easily. Include whole food, fruit, and nuts or nut butters in each snack pack. You could make them the night before, or even batch-make them a week in advance if it’s practical.
Having pre-made snack packs also help you to control how much your kid eats in-between meals. You can even measure or weigh how much of each ingredient you put in each pack to add just the right amount of proteins, good fats, and nutrients to each one.
Here are some easy snack recipes, suggestions really, for delicious and nutritious after school snacks:
Homemade trail mix:
Measure out and mix some of the following:
In a blender, add and blend variations of the following:
Chicken sates with peanut butter sauce:
Place thin strips of chicken breast on skewers and cook thoroughly. Allow them to cool down and serve or keep refrigerated for up to three to four days. To melt your peanut butter, add a dollop to a saucepan over low heat. Stir gently until it’s melted. Alternatively, you can heat it up in the microwave until melted. Some nut butters, like almond butter, are naturally runnier and could be a tasty substitute for peanut butter in this recipe.
Pre-make snack mix packs with a variety of the following:
Afterschool snacks can be healthy while also being a substitute for your child’s favorite sweet treat. Pre-make fun snacks to help your child make healthy food choices and allow them to easily grab it and go in the waiting time between getting home from school and eating dinner.
Take a look at our range of Wholly Rollies to add to you and your kid’s favorite snack pack. They are also delicious and oh-so-satisfying all on their own!