“Mom, I’m hungry!”
Chocolate chip cookies are a classic after school treat, but there are healthier things kids can reach for when they’re in need of a little pre-dinner snack.
Depending on their age and sex, elementary-school age children should have between 1 to 2 cups of fruits and 1.5 to 3.5 cups of vegetables per day1. Their calories from solid fats and added sugar (think butter, cake and soda) should also be limited.
When you’re planning lunchbox and after school snacks, choose nutrient dense foods such as:
- Lean meat and poultry, eggs, beans, peas, soy products and unsalted nuts and seeds.
- Fresh, frozen or dried fruits.
- Fresh, canned or frozen vegetables, especially dark green, red and orange vegetables, beans and peas.
- Whole wheat bread, oatmeal, popcorn, quinoa or brown rice.
- Lower fat dairy products like milk, yogurt, cheese or fortified soy beverages.
Since cookies are probably more appealing than anything else to a hungry child in need of a little sustenance, the trick is making healthier options appealing and easy to grab and go.
Keep fruit like apples, grapes and oranges in the crisper to keep them fresh, cool and juicy, but clean them first so they’re always ready to be gobbled up. The same goes for fresh vegetables. Peel and chop carrots into sticks, cut up celery, wash some cherry tomatoes, slice up sweet peppers and keep them all in a sealed container in the fridge within easy reach of your hungry little munchkins. If dips help the veggies go down a little easier, serve them kid-friendly dips like Creamy Pesto Dip or Honey Mustard Hummus.
Pickier eaters might need a little more enticement, so get creative and play with your food. Turn slices of apples and grapes into little cars using toothpicks, make a hummus volcano with slices of red pepper erupting from the mound, or make a string cheese octopus with raisin eyes glued on with a small dab of peanut butter. Check out Parenting.com for these and more creative ideas.
If your kids are die-hard cookie fans who aren’t likely to get on board with fruits and veggies as an after school snack, there are still ways to give them something sweetly satisfying that’s actually good for them.
5 healthier snack options for kids with a sweet tooth:
- Healthy No-bake Snack Bars
- Super Yummy Strawberry Chia Fruit Leather
- No-bake Peanut Butter Chocolate Trail Mix Granola Bars
- Blueberry Date Snack Cake
- Nut Butter Caramel Dip to serve with apple and banana slices
Don’t forget that kids learn by example, so let them catch you eating healthy snacks too!
412763E CAN/US (09/15)