Stress-free ways to serve nutritious after-school snacks

The challenge for parents is to find a treat kids will want to eat that’s not filled with empty calories.

AFTER a long day at the chalkboard and on the playground, kids can come home from school hungry and ready for an after-school snack. Studies show that children snack an average of three times a day, but they still aren’t getting adequate levels of vitamins and minerals. The challenge for parents is to find a treat kids will want to eat that’s not filled with empty calories.

Kids’ diets are low in vitamin D, calcium, potassium and dietary fiber, according to the American Dietetic Association. And over the past decade, children’s eating patterns have been markedly low in vitamins A, C and E.

Most moms know that if left to their own devices, children will almost always go for sweet indulgences first. In fact, cookies are the No. 1 snack item eaten by kids today.

So, can moms reward kids after a tough day at school with treats they’ll actually want to eat while fueling healthy development?

The answer is yes. And it helps to plan ahead. Here are some helpful tips that can have a positive impact on kids’ after-school snack choices.

Make nutritious treats accessible.

To help parents with busy after-school schedules, look for convenient snacks that can be easily taken from the cupboard or refrigerator and brought on-the-go. Having snacks at their fingertips helps encourage kids to make better choices. For example, when you come home from the grocery store, use sandwich bags to prepack single servings of things like grapes, cheese, crackers and carrots to make them easy to grab and go in an instant. For a sweet alternative, make your own trail mix using their favorite cereal, chocolate chips, mini marshmallows or peanuts.

Pack in nutrients.

One key to success is to modify kids’ favorite foods by pumping up the nutritional value, according to Mike Bloom, vice president of marketing for Suncore Products. For example, his company recently introduced a new line of cookies, WhoNu? Nutrition Rich Cookies, created to look and taste like familiar family favorites, while packing more than 20 essential vitamins and minerals, plus dietary fiber.

Create tasty options.

Take familiar favorite treats and make them even tastier for kids. For instance, parents can make small changes to beloved treats using simple recipes like a frozen yogurt sandwich. Scoop half a cup of your favorite flavor of low-fat frozen yogurt between two Crispy Chocolate Chip WhoNu? Cookies. Freeze until firm and serve.

Timing is everything.

Know your children’s schedules. A snack can help ward off hunger, but filling kids up with a heavy, calorie-filled treat can spoil their appetites. Space snacks out appropriately, and look for treats packed with fiber that will keep their stomachs full without ruining dinner.

Allow more than one chef in the kitchen.

Let kids’ creativity soar using their plate as a canvas. Offering a variety of flavorful treats they’ve helped create fends off boredom. Allow kids to play with their food with this fun recipe:

PB&J “Sushi”

Trim the crust off a slice of whole wheat bread and spread peanut butter and jelly over the bread. Roll and cut into one-inch sections with a butter knife. Give your child a pair of chopsticks to add some international flair.

To see more after-school snack recipes that taste great and are packed with vitamins and minerals, visit (ARAContent) â– 

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