Ok, Moms… For many of us, our days just got a little easier. Here in our busy household, the two oldest started back to school this week, which means I’m down by 50% when it comes to little people in the house for a significant chunk of the day. Wanting to capitalize on the condensed time we have all together in the afternoons, I’ve resolved to be more prepared than ever, so that when the children walk through the door each afternoon, we can have some quality time instead of chaotic time. Part of that resolution is ensuring that I am well stocked with child-pleasing, healthy & whole snack food choices to go to as soon as we get home. With items like these below, I get them excited – and spending more time with me in the kitchen, talking about their day while I soak up their little faces a little longer. It’s a sweet way to end the school day, and ease into our new normal --- activities, homework, games, reading, baths, and more --- in a very small window of time.
Here’s our Top Ten Healthy & Happy School Snacks:
Bugs on a Log:
Here’s an even healthier twist on the classic “Bugs on a Log” (and you know how I love classic!)… Spread celery sticks with peanut butter and line with blueberries. The kids will benefit from a protein burst and some antioxidant rich fruit in one kid-approved bite!
The kids feel so grown up when I let them eat out of a specialty glass! Layer Greek yogurt with sliced berries, crushed nuts, toasted oats, even some chia or flax seeds for a snack that’s nutrient-dense and fancy-schmancy!
Everything on a stick is more fun! At our house, I let the kids stack their own sticks by having a bowl of cut fruit ready to go. And, in full disclosure… the occasional mini-marshmallow has been known to appear. A dark chocolate drizzle takes this healthy treat to the next level: recent studies show dark chocolate promotes blood flow to the heart and brain, a bonus heading into homework hour!
My kids love edamame – and so do I! It’s fun to eat and, for those free of soy allergies, a great source of fiber, protein, and healthy fats – making it satisfying as well!
Hard Boiled Eggs:
This has become a wonder-food at our house. I recently learned that you can hard “boil” an egg by placing it on the rack of a 325 degree oven for 25 minutes. Now, it’s not like actually boiling the egg were that big a deal, but I certainly acted like it was! Now that I’ve learned this neat trick, I make hard boiled eggs all the time. We dye them for no good reason, make little egg animals (like these cute critters), chop them for a salad, dip them in sauce (that’s my Italian cousin-in-law’s Sicilian grandmother’s snack staple - - surprisingly delicious!!), or make deviled eggs. Again with a protein punch, this snack holds the kids over to dinner without carbo-loading. Start the week out with a dozen in the oven and you’ll be glad you did!
Goat Cheese & Crackers:
A smear of goat cheese topped with a touch of honey makes such a lovely school snack that I find myself indulging right alongside the kids. I love the hint of sweet – so I’ve made this for the kids with berries, preserves, peaches, apples, craisins, raisins, and figs. Choose your favorite whole wheat cracker for a satisfying fiber boost.
Anything the kids can put together makes them that much more likely to eat it! When I find I have nothing left but odds and ends, I fill little bowls with bits of this and that and let the kids make an original snack mix in sandwich bags. Cereals, nuts, dried fruit, the random bag of booty from the bottom of my purse… tossed all together it’s a new treat (and a good start to cleaning out the pantry!).
As soon as the weather gets a little cooler I start clamoring for the smell of something roasting in the oven. Sliced in half, stuffed with goat cheese and raisins, sprinkled with cinnamon and slowly roasted to a soft, pie-like treat, this dish feels gourmet but takes just minutes to throw together. To add a protein punch, toss a few roasted almonds on top. It leaves the kids with warm tummies on cool afternoons, and a homey feeling you just can’t quite put into words.
Turkey & Cheese Roll Ups
It’s all in the presentation! A piece of turkey and slice of cheese has nothing on a turkey and cheese roll up! Take a few minutes to have yours literally ready to roll and the kids will find them irresistible! Sneak a celery stick in the middle for a little crunch. A smear of tzaziki and I’d call it lunch!
Mini Veggie Muffins:
Anything mini seems to appeal to children. Actually, it tends to appeal to adults too! When the zucchini harvest from Bepa's (the kids' affectionate term for my dad!) garden this summer was abundant, I found myself with zucchini everywhere! In the fridge… on the window ledge… baskets…. I found this great recipe for zucchini muffins – and it included carrots, too – and they were a total hit with our crew. Who knew?!
And because I couldn't stop at just 10... here's one more for good luck!
Sweet Potato Chips:
Who doesn’t love a chip?! The sweet potato is so vitamin rich that I sneak them into a lot of dishes, but on their own they are perfectly delightful! The trick to a good sweet potato chip is slicing thin with a mandolin and having the oven good and hot. Toss with a little olive oil and roast. You’ll never want to buy a bagged chip again!
Wishing you healthy & happy afternoons with your little ones!