Power-packed after-school snacks + “Let’s Talk Live” show

Cool school lunches are all the rage with us moms these days. We take such care in packing school lunches (well, most days we try), ensuring our kids have a protein, grain, veggie and fruit. But no matter what we pack for lunch, those hungry little hippos still burst into the house RAVENOUS! And, you know what? Famished children make snack time a golden opportunity to sneak in some extra nutrients and offer foods that children might not be as willing to try at meal time.

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I have to admit… my children almost seem possessed once they walk in the door from school, completely and 100% intent on finding something to shove into their little mouths. And if I do not have a snack ready to go, they will ravage the pantry and fridge until they find something–anything!–to nosh. (I experienced this last week when I made the mistake of putting away our bags before fixing their snack, and within minutes they had created for themselves a smorgasbord of granola bars and s’mores ingredients, complete with graham crackers, chocolate chips and stale marshmallows. It was not a pretty sight.)

Lesson learned? You bet. MUST have easy-to-eat snacks on hand that I feel good about serving to them… QUICKLY. And this is really very simple. Just keep these TWO factors in mind when planning snacks…

  1. Protein — Like meals, snacks should consist of a complex or high-fiber carbohydrate + lean or heart-healthy protein (think fruit, vegetables or whole grains PLUS fish, beans, edamame, eggs, low-fat dairy and nuts or seeds). Carbohydrates provide the fuel (and those complex or high-fiber carbohydrates provide dietary fiber and lots of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants). Protein provides the satisfaction and staying power, to help tide us over for a couple of hours until dinner.
  2. Portion sizes — Just remember… a snack is a snack, not a meal. The goal is to keep little tummies powered for sports practice, band practice or that homework marathon without filling them up. Aim for snacks that provide about 100-150 calories for younger children, a little more for children playing sports and older kids (200-250 calories).

Here are some snack ideas that I shared with ABC 7 WJLA’s “Let’s Talk Live show in Washington DC earlier this week.

Fruit Nachos apple nachos 2
1/4-1/3 cup plain nonfat yogurt
1 tsp. honey
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1 apple, cored and sliced
1/2 Tbsp. chia seeds

Choice of toppings:
 blueberries, diced strawberries, low-fat granola, shredded unsweetened coconut, sunflower or pumpkin seeds, mini chocolate chips

In a baggie, add yogurt, honey and cinnamon; squeeze bag gently to mix ingredients together (this is a great task for kids to do!). Place apple slices on a plate. Cut small hole in corner of baggie, and drizzle yogurt on top of apples. Sprinkle with chia seeds and desired toppings. Make 2 servings.


Twisted Tuna Pinwheels pinwheels 2
1 whole grain tortilla
1 avocado, mashed with fork
1 pouch or can of chunk light tuna
1/4 cup shredded carrot
1/2 yellow or red bell pepper, diced or thinly sliced

Mash avocado on top of tortilla. Evenly distribute tuna, carrot and bell pepper on top of mashed avocado. Tightly roll tortilla, leaving ends open. Slice into 1-inch thick slices. Makes 2 servings.


Popcorn 2 Ways: Savory or Sweet
6 cups air-popped popcorn
1/2 tsp canola or coconut oil popcorn

Sweet toppings: Cinnamon, brown sugar, mini or dark chocolate chips, mixed dried fruit, cinnamon-flavored crunchy chickpeas, sunflower seeds

Savory toppings: Parmesan or powder cheddar cheese, nutritional yeast, whole grain cereal, pretzels, sea salt crunchy chickpeas, hemp seeds

In a large bowl, drizzle oil evenly over popcorn. Top with your favorite sweet or savory (or a mix of both!) toppings. Makes 2 servings.


PLEASE SHARE: What are your favorite after-school snacks? Please share. I’d love to hear from you!