When famished kids arrive home from school, finding healthy snacks is the first priority, followed by sports practice and homework. Having healthy options available takes a little planning and some easy go-to recipes. To make it easier on you, we talked to local nutrition professionals to get the dish on healthy snack ideas.
Pairing protein with snacks is a great way to help kids eat healthier while keeping their bellies full, says Pam Vagnieres MS, MNT, CSCS nutritionist and exercise physiologist with Nutri-Physique in Louisville.
“One of my big nutrition things is that kids have protein at every snack because it keeps their brain and body calm. If kids eat Goldfish or a box of raisins without protein, they may have a blood sugar spike.”
Apples or bananas with peanut butter makes up a tasty snack that’s easy to prepare. Almond butter and seed butters work well too.
“I like to sprinkle cinnamon on the apples. It’s like a sweet treat and also works with pears,” she said.
For children with nut allergies, Vagnieres suggested sun butter, which is sunflower seed butter. A 16 oz container runs about six bucks at local grocery stores like Natural Grocers.
Eating in season is the way to go says Debbie Steinbock, HHC, holistic health & nutrition counselor with Mindful Nutrition, part of Mindful Family Medicine in Boulder.
Think peaches and melons in late summer and apples in the fall. Assembling fruit kabobs is a fun activity for younger kids, Steinbock said. And by keeping it colorful, it looks and tastes better. She suggests adding fruits like pineapple, melon, kiwi, strawberries and grapes. Consider cubed cheese to adds protein.
Keeping hard boiled eggs in the fridge is an easy snack that goes well with crackers and veggies. Steinbeck suggests portioning out after school snacks in small containers. This timesaver makes it easy for kids to find healthy snacks on the go.
“Take a pint of hummus and portion it into plastic containers with cut up mixed veggies,” she said.
Leftovers make great snack too. Steinbeck takes leftover rice and turns it into rice pudding.
“Just add some milk of your choice, a full fat coconut milk or almond milk, a mild sweetener like maple syrup, vanilla, cinnamon and make it on the stovetop,” she said. Cook on a medium heat until it thickens. Can add granola or raisins.
3 Ingredient Pecan Cocoa Protein Bars
Provided by Pam Vagnieres
• 8 to 10 medjool dates
• 2 cups pecans (raw or lightly toasted for 12 minutes at 300º
• 3 tablespoons cocoa or raw cacao powder
• A few drops of water
Pit and rinse dates. Toss all ingredients into a food processor. Spread the batter until batter onto 8 x 8 inch pan. Use a rolling pin or glass to smooth out the batter. Cut into one-inch bars. Store in refrigerator. More recipes
on Pam’s website – nutriphysique.net/cookbooks.
Fun Fact: Did you know? Medjool dates are considered a superfood packed with antioxidants and high fiber – which helps with digestion.
Provided by Debbie Steinbock
• ½ cup almond butter
• ½ cup tahini
• ¼ cup ground pumpkin seeds
• ¼ cup ground flax seeds¼ cup unsweetened dried fruit–cranberries, apricots, strawberries, or cherries
• 1 T protein powder
• ¼ cup brown rice syrup, shredded coconut flakes (or raw cacao, chia seeds)
Combine all the ingredients except the coconut flakes and mix together. Roll into balls and coat with shredded coconut. Store in refrigerator.
By Elise Oberliesen for Raised in the Rockies