When the school day ends, your kids are probably craving a tasty treat, but you're probably more concerned about giving them an after-school snack that's filling and nutritious. You can both get what you want by making healthy snacks together that are as delicious as they are fun to create.
With the right ingredients and a sensible portion size, even pizza can be a healthy snack. It's as easy as layering an English muffin or whole-wheat bagel with tomato sauce and sprinkling on some low-fat cheese. You can mix it up by swapping tomato sauce for pesto, white sauce, or hummus. Everyday Health also suggests substituting a tomato slice for the sauce. Then pile on plenty of veggies; chopped broccoli, mushrooms, bell peppers, artichokes, and olives are good choices. For a dose of protein, add lean ground beef, ham, or chicken.
For a sweet version, spread low-fat cream cheese on a whole-wheat bagel and top with kiwis, berries, melon, or bananas.
The options for making trail mix are practically endless, giving kids the flexibility to create healthy snacks that are tailored to their preferences. Try a few of these trail mix recipes from Greatist. Go savory with nuts, seeds, crackers, or pretzels. For a sweet version, use dried fruit, whole-grain cereal, shredded coconut, or low-fat yogurt-covered raisins. You can customize these recipes around the basic formula, taking food allergies and personal preferences into account.
Fruit or Veggie Kebab
Kebabs are proof that playing with your food can be totally acceptable. Help your kids cut uncooked vegetables or fruit into fun shapes with cookie cutters, and let them choose the order in which the pieces are placed. Crisp, firm vegetables, such as radishes, zucchini, bell peppers, and cherry tomatoes, all make for great kebab ingredients. Add cubes of cheese for extra protein. If you're using fruit, try grapes, apples, melon, pineapple, or mangoes. Dip the kebab in nonfat yogurt and shredded coconut if you like, or even freeze the kebab for a refreshing treat.
A fruit and yogurt parfait is one of the easiest healthy snacks to make with kids, but playing with the presentation can take it to another level. Make the treat in a fancy parfait glass, and top it with a fresh cherry for a nutritious spin on a dessert classic. Start with a low-fat plain or vanilla yogurt base, topped with alternating layers of fresh fruit (berries work especially well), whole-grain cereal or granola, and additional yogurt. Don't have a parfait glass? Try using a mason jar or even a clear water glass.
Quesadillas are great for adding some extra calcium to your child's diet. Let your child sprinkle a whole-wheat, spinach, or tomato tortilla with low-fat cheese. Cheddar, colby, and pepper jack are all tasty options that melt well. There are varieties of soy cheese for lactose-intolerant kids. Layer with plenty of fresh veggies. Place another tortilla on top, and pop the quesadilla in the microwave or a skillet, depending on whether your child prefers it softer or crispier. Slice into quarters to make it easier for your child to dip into salsa, low-fat sour cream, or guacamole.
Choosing creative recipes like these will help you make snacks that not only taste great but are also full of nutritious ingredients for healthy, growing kids.