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Healthy after school snacks

Do you know that growing kids need over 40 different vitamins and minerals on a regular basis? Your best bet for making sure your kids are getting the vitamins and minerals they need is to provide a wide variety of healthy foods. Encouraging healthy after school snacks will help you do that. Here are some fun ideas for healthy snacks.

Smoothies – If you don’t mind a messy kitchen, smoothies are nutritious and fun to make. The next time bananas get too ripe for your taste, cut them in 1-inch chunks and throw them in the freezer in a freezer bag. For a refreshing after school treat, put four or five frozen banana chunks in a blender with one cup of milk. Add any other fruit you have on hand, such as strawberries, blueberries, sliced peaches, or sliced nectarines and blend until smooth. Pour into a tall glass and serve. When you don’t have any other fruit on hand, add a few drops of vanilla to a plain banana smoothie for a flavor boost.

Make your own snack mix – Kids can learn a lot about healthy eating with a homemade snack mix. First, practice reading food labels to find whole grains. Any cereal with 3 grams of fiber or more per serving is a healthy base for a snack mix. Wheat Chex, Kix, and Mulit-Grain Cheerios are good examples of kid friendly choices. You’ll find lots more if you spend an extra 5 minutes in the cereal aisle next time you’re in the grocery store. While you’re at the store look for bite size whole grain crackers. The same rule applies – look for 3 grams of fiber per serving. New flavors are appearing all the time. Have your kids choose a variety of nuts and/or seeds to add protein. Pumpkin seeds and sesame seeds offer nutrition and a little something different. Making snack mix can also teach kids about eating high fat or sugar foods in moderation. It’s OK to make your snack mix more fun by adding a small amount of foods that taste good, but offer little nutrition. For example, have your kids throw in the high fiber cereal, crackers, nuts and seeds, and then you add a small amount of M& M’s just for fun!

Yogurt parfaits – What’s more fun than a parfait? Spruce up plain yogurt with berries, sliced peaches and crunchy cereal and nuts. If your kids like the texture of Greek yogurt, you’ll pack in even more protein.

Here are some other easy ideas;

Orange smiles – Without peeling the orange; cut it in half from the navel end. Cut each half into half again.

Frozen grapes – Take grapes off the vine and freeze them for a grape “popsicle” treat.

Serve chunks of fruit and cheese with pretzel sticks. Allow your kids to use the pretzels as “spears” to eat the fruit and cheese.

Make an “inside out” sandwich by wrapping a slice of cheese around a breadstick.

Cut raisin bread but into fun shapes with a cookie cutter and spread with peanut butter.

Keeping these foods on hand will have you ready to face the hungry after school crowd at your house.

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