Posted: August 2023
(2 Minute Read)
Snacking is a regular habit for most kids. Thanks to their growing bodies and active lifestyles, kids need to eat more often than most adults. When the school season is in session, many parents struggle to come up with after-school snack ideas that are both healthy and tasty enough for their little ones.
While there's an abundance of snack options on the market, not all of them are healthy. Yet, seeing as childhood and adolescence are crucial times to get the right nutrition and to help develop positive eating habits that can be carried into adulthood, it's very important to provide healthy snacks for kids.
By embracing homemade alternatives and incorporating nutritious snacks, parents and caregivers can ensure their children have access to plenty of healthy choices. What's more, you can encourage kids to get creative in the kitchen, exploring new tastes and textures and putting together their own snacks. Involve them in the process, and you'll naturally inspire them to try new things.
Here is a selection of 10 nutrient-dense after-school snack ideas that are simple to prepare, tasty to eat and provide the right nutrients to keep kids satisfied until the next mealtime.
You can entice young kids to try more veggies by presenting them in an appealing way and alongside a yummy dip. Try arranging colorful veggie sticks, such as bell peppers and carrots, into snack cups alongside a nutritious dip like hummus, cottage cheese or guacamole for a simple but nutritious snack.
Granola bars are the perfect grab-and-go snack to keep on hand when hunger strikes. Choose bars made primarily from oats, nuts and dried fruit. Because many bars can be loaded with added sugar and less-healthy ingredients, be sure to read the nutrition facts label and ingredients list. Try to stick to bars with the least amount of added sugar as possible.
Prepare colorful fruit skewers with fresh and juicy fruits. It's quick and simple to prepare, and steps up the regular snack routine. These energy-packed treats will keep kids nourished, refreshed and satisfied.
Hummus is a well-rounded dip full of filling fiber, plant-based protein and healthy fats. It is also very versatile and can be easily paired with whole-grain pita bread or crackers for a satisfying snack. Or, opt for more veggies here, dipping carrot sticks or cucumber slices into the hummus.
Many store-bought trail mixes can be high in added sugar, but it's easy to make your own at home. Create a personalized trail mix with ingredients like low-sugar cereal, a variety of nuts, seeds and unsweetened dried fruits for a balanced blend of nutrients and flavors.
Kids or caregivers can make a colorful snack parfait using plain yogurt, berries and other desired mix-ins, like low-sugar granola, flax or chia seeds. Add nut butter for a simple and satisfying snack packed with protein, fiber and other important nutrients.
Prepare cheesy veggie quesadillas using whole-grain tortillas and fresh vegetables like shredded zucchini, diced bell peppers or sautéed spinach. This warm and savory snack is sure to be a hit with kids.
Canned tuna is a low-cost fish that provides a great source of anti-inflammatory omega-3 fats. Pairing it with whole-grain crackers or on a slice of whole-grain toast makes for a high-protein and delicious snack that's quick to make and serve.
Hard-boiled eggs are easy to make in a large batch and keep on hand for nutritious on-the-go snacking. Pairing one with some fruit (think apples, oranges, watermelon, strawberries, peaches, etc.) gives the right balance of protein and high-fiber carbohydrates that will keep kids full and satisfied.
Apples and bananas pair perfectly with nutritious peanut butter spread or other nut butter. You can create apple "nachos" using sliced apples drizzled with nut butter, or "banana sushi" by spreading nut butter between two slices of banana for a fun and filling snack.
Encouraging kids to indulge in tasty and nourishing snack options will help contribute to their overall well-being and set them on a path to a healthier lifestyle. Try offering a variety of choices throughout the week and getting your kids involved in picking out and creating new flavor combinations to foster a long-term, healthy habit.
Written by: Joanna Foley, RD