Healthy Snack Ideas For After School

Try these healthy snack ideas for after school.

What is one of the first things your kids do when they get home from a busy day at school? Mine look for something to eat. Too many afternoons I would watch them dive into the cookies, the chips, the junk food snacks. I cringed as they stuffed their mouths full with sugar, salt and endless artificial ingredients, additives and preservatives. So, what did I do? I stopped buying those unhealthy snacks. Unfortunately, that didn't stop them. In no time at all they out-smarted me and made sure to stop at the local convenience store on their way home, or even worse they would not come home at all. Rather, they would be sure to stop by a friend's house, one whose pantry and cabinets were no doubt stocked full of these unhealthy foods. I was at my wits end. The last thing I wanted to do was be the bad guy here but if you've ever tried to explain to your child that, "it's for your own good", you too know that look - that expression that says I'm not listening to you and you're not going to change my mind. I had to do something, and quick. I felt as though I was alienating my children, making them go elsewhere for their sustenance after a long, hard day - the daily grind that is elementary school. Then suddenly, it came to me. It was now my turn to outsmart them. They were going to eat snacks that were good for them AND they were going to like them. Most important of all, they were not going to know that what they were eating was healthy! Included here are some suggestions for getting your kids to eat healthy too. Use mine or experiment and create your own. Just don't tell them that it's good for them and they'll eat almost anything.

Warm Microwave Apple Pudding: This is a very simple recipe that can be ready in minutes. Core and peel a medium sized apple. (Macintosh are juicy and I've found work very well.) Slice and put in a microwave safe bowl. Add two tablespoons water and sprinkle a dash of cinnamon over the top. Place in the microwave and heat on high for sixty to ninety seconds until the apple is soft and very tender. The end result is very similar to that of an apple pie filling, with no high fat crust and no added sugar. Most importantly, the kids will love it.

Instant Pizza: All kids love pizza. I haven't met one yet who doesn't. A great after school snack that can be made in less than five minutes are homemade pizzas. First, prepare you crust. This can be made from a number of things. Toasted bread, English muffins or bagels work well. But, don't limit yourself. Crackers, even rice cakes can work well. Spread some prepared sauce over the crust and top with cheese. Microwave or broil just until the cheese is melted and the sauce is hot. By the way, I did not mention what kind of sauce to use. Pizza does not necessarily have to be made out of the traditional ingredients. Once again, experimentation is key. Cream sauce, gravies, olive oil and garlic. Any of these can be spread over your crust. Also, pizza does not necessarily have to be hot. Try a cold pizza made with salad dressing, fresh vegetables and parmesan cheese. Or, a sweet fruit pizza can be great fun. Try spreading the crust with cottage cheese, yogurt, or sugar free fruit preserves and top with chopped or sliced fresh fruit. Enjoy!

Instant Soup: There is nothing like a nice, hot cup of soup on those cold winter days when the kids get home from school. Packaged and prepared soups can be costly and are usually very high in sodium and loaded with preservatives. The alternative is to make your own. Whenever I cook chicken or turkey I create a stock. I boil and simmer the meat, skim the fat off and season it to taste. I then pour my broth into freezer tight containers and keep in the freezer until I need them. When I want to serve my kids homemade soup I pull one of these containers of broth out of the freezer, set into a pot and heat until defrosted and warm. At this point you can add rice, noodles or some frozen vegetables. It's homemade, healthy and ready in minutes.

Healthy Ice Pops: Just as soup is great on cold days, ice pops are when the weather is hot. However, store bought, prepackaged ice pops are usually not much more than sugar, water and of course - preservatives. Rather than offer these to you kids, why not make your own. Pour juice (natural, of course with no sugar added) into ice cube trays and freeze. If desired, you could even take it a step farther and add some consistency to them. Chop up some fruit. Any kind will work - apples, oranges, bananas - as long as it compliments the flavor of the juice you are using. Add the fruit chunks to the juice before freezing.

There are so many wonderful ways to get your kids to eat healthy. You just have to use your imagination and work with what they like. If your child has a sweet tooth offer them various fruit snacks. If salt is favored try cheese, tomato sauce and soup ideas. By making it fun for them it to eat it will be more enjoyable for you. And, most of all, you'll rest easier knowing that your children are eating healthy.

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