There’s nothing like a big day of learning and play to work up an appetite. For your growing little ones, a nutritious after-school snack is a critical piece of their daily diet. Afternoon snacks replenish empty tummies, feed hungry minds, and provide energy to carry kids through to bedtime. Making these snacks together also provides the opportunity to create something with your chef and sharing stories from the day.
Graham Cracker Snacker
An afternoon snack should be filling, but not overwhelmingly s – you don’t want to ruin dinner. Graham crackers are light, crunchy, and slightly sweet. They also make a good base for toppings. One idea is to spread a layer of peanut butter or almond butter on the graham cracker, or you can use sunflower butter if your child has allergies. Next, provide your little chef with a cutting board and a kid-safe knife. Allow her to cut slices of banana or pieces of apple (that you pre-cut into manageable chucks) to place on top of the butter for an additional serving of fruit.
Feeling fancy? Try topping the crackers with lemon curd and slices of strawberry. Not that anyone ever needs an excuse for Nutella, but if you and your little chef are in need of an especially sweet treat, top your graham crackers with Nutella and raspberries.
English Muffin for Stuffin’
English Muffins are another great base for building delicious snacks. Like graham crackers, you can buy the whole-wheat variety of English muffins for built-in nutrition. You can toast and top these guys with the same options as the graham crackers, but because they aren’t sweet, you have even more options.
One idea is build mini pizzas. First, toast the muffins and pre-heat your broiler. Next, add a spoonful or two of pizza sauce or pasta sauce. Next, add slices of pepperoni, chopped up red pepper, marinated artichoke hearts – whatever your little chef will like! Top with a handful of shredded cheese and pop them into your broiler for two minutes or a little less. This is a fun idea for a group of kids because they can each make their own mini pizza with their favorite toppings, allowing their creativity to shine.
Here’s another option: Open-Melt Cheese and Apples. Again, toast the muffin first. Next, let your little chef add two slices of cheddar cheese and thin slices of green apple. Pop it back in the oven or toaster oven until the cheese is nice and melty and you’re all set.
Mix Master off the Trail
Who says you have to be hiking to enjoy a delicious trail mix? Trail mix is a great snack because it contains filling yet healthy fats from the nuts and essential vitamins from the fruit. Plus, you have the option to make big, pre-prepared batches or leave the ingredients separate so every day is something new. Making your own trail mix at home helps you cut down on the sugar often found in many packaged trial mixes.
Start the process by take your little chef to the grocery store that has a good bulk food section so he can participate in the fun of selecting ingredients. Some ideas include granola, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, peanuts, pistachios, pecans, Chex, Cheerios, raisins, cranberries, dried apricots, dried pineapple, dried apples, dried cherries, or banana chips. For a little sweet touch you can add chocolate chips, but keep it sparing and focus more on the healthy ingredients.
Baked Egg Rolls and Edamame
Bring a little Asian flavor to your afternoon with these two easy snack ideas. Edamame is low in calories and fat, but contains a great deal of fiber and protein, along with a fair amount of vitamin C and iron. They can be found in the frozen section of the grocery store, making them an easy snack to prepare: heat in microwave and serve!
Making the baked egg rolls takes more preparation, but you can freeze the extras (of which there will be many), so it’s worth the time in the long run. Start by preparing the filling. After you shred half a head of cabbage, give your little chef the bowl and ask him to mix in pre-cut carrot sticks, broccoli florets and thin slices of red pepper. Once the filling is ready, warm up a few tablespoons of sesame oil in a wok or large skillet, and add two teaspoons of grated ginger. Next, add the filling mixture to the pan and cook for about five minutes.
While the filling is cooking, lay out the egg roll wrappers (typically found in the refrigerated section of the grocery store, near the vegetables). Apply a thin coat of cooking spray before adding the veggie filling. Wrap it all up and add another thin coat of spay to the tops of the rolls. Adding the filling and rolling the rolls is great time to seek you little chef’s help. Bake the egg rolls in the oven at 350 for about 20 minutes, until the outside is golden-brown. When you’re ready for a snack, dip them in a sweet-chili or peanut sauce.