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After school + hunger = healthy snacks

Posted by: Jacqui Zimmerman, RD on 10/12/2012 9:47:43 AM

The after-school hour is a great time to capitalize on your child’s hunger and squeeze in a healthy snack. Try using this “don’t ask” strategy: Instead of asking your child what he or she wants, simply have a healthy snack laid out.  Kids who are really hungry are more likely to eat whatever you  offer them.

Ideally, snacks should fill nutritional gaps and provide servings of at least two of the five main food groups. Most kids don’t eat enough fruits and vegetables, so snack time is a great time to help them meet their quota.

Easy options include whole fruits like apples, oranges, pears, and grapes. Cut vegetables served with light ranch dressing or hummus is another easy option. Keep a couple of bags of baby carrots on hand or cut vegetables yourself and store them in produce bags or containers for quick access.

Being creative with how you serve fruits and vegetables is another way to get kids to eat more of them. Here are some healthy ideas:

  • Mix ½ cup canned pumpkin with ½ cup vanilla nonfat yogurt and ½ teaspoon cinnamon for a wonderful fall dip. Serve with apple slices.
  • Spread natural peanut butter (or other nut butter) on a whole grain tortilla and sprinkle with shredded carrots and raisins or dried cranberries. Roll up tightly and slice crosswise into rounds.
  • Top whole grain Triscuit crackers with pizza or spaghetti sauce, shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese, and leftover steamed broccoli or other vegetable. Microwave until the cheese is melted for a great mini-pizza snack.
Combining foods that your children like on their own is a great way to help them develop new tastes. Try out these healthy snacks and encourage them to come up with ideas as well. What are some of your healthy snack ideas?

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