Do your kids come home after school ravenous? LIke they haven’t eaten for days? Mine sure do! And, if you are like me, trying to think up after school snack ideas (besides chips and juice) can be a real struggle. Try these 8 easy after school snacks that are nutritious and tasty!
How to Create Healthy After School Snacks for Kids
What ingredients are important to make a healthy after school snack? Energy! Kids need energy and energy comes in the form of three different categories:
Carbohydrates are the number one preferred fuel source by the body, meaning kids need carbs in their after school snack! Carbohydrates provide the body with glucose, which is converted to energy and used to support bodily functions and physical activity. Carbohydrates are exactly what you think they are – bread, pasta, and bagels- but carbs also come in the form of fruits and vegetables. Vegetables and fruits are so important because they are also full of vitamins, minerals, phytochemicals, flavonoids and fiber. Of course, getting kids to eat these things are the real trick.
The next form of energy is fat! You’ve certainly seen the fat craze hitting the marketplace (keto diet ring a bell?). It’s true… fat, to a certain extent, is very good for you and your kids. Fat is necessary for brain development, nervous system development, controlling inflammation, and blood clotting. Fat is especially important in the infant and toddler years and should not be restricted, according to The Journal of Pediatrics. Fat should be included in your kids after school snack. It does, of course, matter which type of fats you consume. The “good” fats are predominantly made from plants, and actually have amazing benefits for the body. These fats are called Omega-3 and Omega-6 and include fish, vegetable oils, nuts, flax seeds, and flaxseed oil. The “bad” fats are more of the saturated and trans fats types from meat and processed foods (think pizza and fried foods).
Last but not least is protein. Protein aids in muscle growth, immunity, and nervous system function. Protein is found naturally in meat and dairy products but also in non meat items such as soy protein, legumes, tempeh, tofu and beans. I would be remiss if I didn’t mention that an excess of protein is actually not so good for you. Most of the time, kids do not need additional protein (as in a powder or any kind of a supplement). Kids just need to eat good old-fashioned food and we definintely want to include protein in after school snacks. If you have a picky eater who doesn’t love meat – here is a great article on vegetarian snacks for kids from another registered dietitian and mom! Protein packs a double punch when it is paired with a fat, which is why nut butter is one of my favorite snacks for kids!
8 Easy After School snacks your kids will actually eat!
Below I’ve come up with this easy after school snack idea guide for snacks that your kids will actually eat. The main goal is to include all three of the macronutrients, and a veggie or a fruit in each snack idea. Hope you find a good after school snack option for your family!
Easy After School Snacks (that your kids will actually eat) infographic.
Apple Slice Donuts.
Is it an apple? Is it a donut? Your kids will go wild for this twist on apple slices. I’ve used peanut butter, cream cheese, and cashew butter for this healthy treat.
Carbs – apple
Protein: peanut butter, whipped cream
Fat: peanut butter, whipped cream
Extra: sugar in sprinkles or chocolate chips
Rainbow Fruit and Cheese Kabobs
Who doesn’t love the combo of fruit and cheese. Add a little marshmallow at the end and your babies will think the are getting a sweet treat! Any kind of cheese will do, I tend to stick to mozzerella or cheddar as my kids are a little picky. Both pair well with strawberries, apples and melons!
Carbs – fruit
Avocado Pudding Cups.
Yes, I’m sneaking avocado into pudding. And it’s wonderful. These pudding cups still taste like chocolate, but pack a mighty nutrition punch with the green fruit addition to this easy after school snack.
Carbs – avocado and banana
Protein: protein powder (this recipe doesn’t have lot of natural protein so a vanilla or chocolate protein powder is perfectly acceptable and aids in flavor!)
Extra: chocolate (cocoa powder)
Chunky Monkey Banana Bites
Banana and chocolate and peanut butter. Need I say more? It’s actually the perfect nutritional combination! Roll the final product in nuts if your kids like them for a little extra crunch!
Carbs – banana
Protein: peanut butter
Fat: peanut butter and nuts
Veggie Dip Cups
I’ll be honest here, two of my kids only eat the carrots and ranch dip in these after school snacks. However, the addition of a cheese stick gives this a super healthy and more appealing twist. Just slice a mozzarella cheese stick in half and toss it in the cup. If you have time, make the glorious green goddess dressing recipe linked below. You can thank me later.
Carbs – veggies (very little)
Protein: cheese stick
Fat: cheese stick and ranch
Extra: ranch dressing isn’t really giving you much nutrition – but it sure does taste good!
Quick Cereal Trail Mix
My kids love trail mix for an easy after school snack! This version has a little of everything, and can easily be a “snacktivity” for kids. I substitute dried cherries for the cranberries because my kids (and I) prefer the sweeter version!
Carbs – cheerios, dried fruit, banana
Extra: chocolate chips
Cheesy Zucchini Sticks
This easy after school snack idea is a vegetable, disguised as a fried food. My kids LOVE these – even though they are green!
Carbs – zucchini, bread crumbs
Protein: mozzarella cheese
Fat: mozzarella cheese, olive oil
Extra: not much!
Peanut Butter Honey No Bake Granola Bars
This easy after school snack idea is a bit like a no bake cookie, but looks like a bar! I always add a few mini chocolate chips to make it extra tasty.
Carbs – oatmeal
Protein: nut butter
Fat: nut butter
Extra: chocolate chips and honey
And there you have it! I certainly hope this guide has been helpful. Do you want this as a printable pdf? I’m happy to send it to you! Simply enter your email at the top of the page and I’ll send over your way! Thank you so much for reading and hopefully this gives you some inspiration!
Let me know how the recipes go…
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