Ten healthy and easy afterschool snacks
St. Joseph’s/Candler Dietitian Julia Gammon offers tips for parents to get their kids to eat healthy
Already running out of ideas for afterschool snacks? St. Joseph’s/Candler Education Specialist and Dietitian Julia Gammon is here to help.
“This is the age that requires much more energy for growth and development so it is important children have multiple small snacks throughout their day to provide them with adequate energy,” Gammon says. “It is also very important to begin building healthy habits at a young age. If you incorporate healthy snacks into their day from the start, they will be more likely to carry on the habit as they grow older.”
Gammon encourages parents to be proactive in their child’s eating habits. Children often mimic the actions of their parents. Therefore, if mom and dad snack on veggies and fruits, the more likely their children will want to eat like that too, Gammon says.
Another tip Gammon shares with parents to get their kids to eat healthy is to have children involved in the cooking process.
“Let your kids help prepare snacks with you. The more involved they are, the more inclined they will be to eat it,” Gammon says. “And make it fun. Get creative and always use your resources to come up with new ideas for your little ones.”
To help get you started on meal planning, Gammon has 10 healthy and easy snack ideas perfect for homework at home or on the way to soccer practice.
- Fish in the River – Take a celery stick and fill the inside with peanut butter, top with a line of Goldfish crackers.
- Popcorn Snack Mix – This is your time to get creative. Use store bought lightly buttered popcorn (or homemade), add nuts, seeds, pretzels, dried cranberries, mini chocolate chips or other healthy alternatives. Add some spices and dried herbs for an extra sweet or savory flavor.
- Banana and Nut Butter Rolls Ups – Spread a nut butter of your choice on one whole grain tortilla; place a banana in the middle of the tortilla and roll it up. Slice into bite size pieces.
- Apple Cookies – Core the apple and slice horizontally to make apple circles. Spread a nut butter of your choice evenly on the apple slice and top with granola or oats and a few chocolate chips.
- Tortilla Pizza – Spread tomato sauce evenly on a whole grain tortilla, sprinkle mozzarella cheese, mini pepperonis and any vegetables you like. Toast in the oven until the cheese is melty.
- Greek yogurt with fruit and granola – This is pretty self-explanatory but you can change it up by doing different flavors of Greek yogurt and combinations of fruit.
- Frozen Blueberry Bites – Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Place a berry on a toothpick and dip in yogurt. Then, lay them on the parchment paper in a single layer repeating until all berries are dipped. Freeze until solid.
- Veggie slices and homemade ranch dip – Mix together eight ounces of cream cheese, two cups of sour cream or Greek yogurt and one packet of ranch seasoning mix. Chill in the fridge and enjoy.
- Smoothies – Add Greek yogurt, fresh fruit and low fat milk or non-dairy milk for your base ingredients. If you and your child are feeling adventurous, add in some spinach, chia seeds or flax seeds for extra nutrients.
- Healthy snack bin – Create a healthy snack bin by having your kids choose a healthy, convenient snack when you do not have time to make one. Try keeping one in the refrigerator and one in the pantry at eye level of your children. Some suggestions can include already sliced up fruits or veggies, cheese sticks, yogurt, pretzels, raisins, applesauce and granola bars.
One final piece of advice on how to be successful at creating healthy snacks for your kids is preparation.
“I always tell my clients, regardless of what age they are, if you are prepared and always have some sort of healthy snack available, you will be on the right track,” Gammon says. “Just taking an hour, one day a week to prepare will help so much in the long run and limit the option to make poor food decisions.”
Gammon sees patients through the St. Joseph’s/Candler Wellness Center. If you are interested in nutritional counseling, call 912-819-8800.