School’s in full swing and I have a hungry brood of four who come home famished every day and storm the kitchen. Despite my persistent influence, my children are just as likely as any to reach for candy over kale, or simple carbs instead of a high-powered protein snack. Confession: nine times out of 10 — unless I offer a healthy after school alternative — they are likely to pour themselves a bowl of cereal.
But nothing could be worse for kids after a full day’s work than a bowl of sugar-loaded cereal at 4:00pm. It spoils their dinner appetites, spikes their blood sugar and sits in their bellies, leaving them buzzing past bedtime.
Do your kids sound like mine? Don’t dismay. I’ve discovered many fun and easy snacks you can prepare in advance to ensure both their brains and bellies are satisfied, while sneakily teaching them good snacking habits along the way. Below I’ve collated my favourite 10 healthy after-school snacks which you’ll find yourself snacking on just as happily as they do.
A quick word of caution: too much snacking, even good snacking, isn’t a good thing. The biggest dinner battles I’ve faced (and have seen many other parents face) have been when an under-active child was overfed at snack-time. If you’re planning on breaking out the broccoli at dinner, limit snacks to small portions and ideally get your kids moving before their next meal.
1. Cucumber Sticks with Jazzed-up Almond Butter
Cucumbers may not win any rockstar food awards, but in hotter weather I find they’re a refreshing and tasty snack which kids really dig. Jazz up your basic almond butter by blending it with some cinnamon and a touch of maple syrup. Slice cucumbers in long sticks and serve to kids with the almond butter in a small egg cup to limit portion size.
2. Almond Blueberry Muffins
Say goodbye to gluten and sugar-filled muffins and say hello to these blueberry muffin goodies. They’re baked with almond flour, making them high in protein and, together with the coconut oil used, makes these muffins high in good fats. Infused with hemp seeds and sweetened with maple syrup, they’re packed with extra goodness.
3. Creamy Almond Banana Green Smoothie Milkshake
My twist on the class green smoothie milkshake is a hit in my household, all the way from little Liam up to my husband Seth. Don’t have a specific ingredient? Get creative. Start with a base of almond milk, sneak in some green powder and add fruits your children love. Win your children over by serving in a fun glass with a curly straw, or even better, call it a milkshake.
4. Sunny Side Up Egg With Toast Bites
I’m not sure what my kids love more with this after-school snack winner –the egg or the bites of toast they get to dip the yolks with. Either way, get your kids involved in the process of cracking and frying their own sunny side up eggs while preparing some gluten free bread stick-slices. For an active crew, this protein hit will get them through their afternoon slump.
5. Kale Chips
If your kids love chips, why not make these Crave-able Kale Chips? They have a crunch like fries but are way better for your little ones, without all the bad fats and fillers. Another good idea is to roast sweet potatoes, beetroots and parsnips slices until crisp then season with salt and olive oil. Serve them hot and crispy — your kids may forget they are vegetables.
6. Roasted Sweet Curry Chickpeas
This one is easy and fun. Whip open a can of chickpeas. Drain and season with olive oil, salt, curry powder and a touch of maple syrup, then roast at 180 degrees celsius until crisp. Serve hot and crisp. Simply delicious.
7. Steamed Edamame
This one’s such a no brainer and a crowd pleaser. Pop frozen edamame in boiling water for a few minutes. Sprinkle with salt. Serve warm in a fun bowl. Simple goodness.
8. Paleo Banana Pancakes
You can find hundreds of recipes for Paleo Banana Pancakes out there. But for me it’s a simple formula: Mash one banana, then add an egg, a bit of almond flour for the right consistency, then I like to add some hemp seed for some good omega-6 fats. Fry like a pancake in a small amount of coconut oil.
9. Trail mix
Get creative here: Mix your kids’ favorite nuts with sunflower seeds, dried cherries and — if you’re feeling like a fun treat — some dark chocolate chips. Check out this Huffington Post article for some more inspiration.
Serve in cute small bowls or bag some up in mini ziplock bags.
10. Humble Carrots and Hummus
Now let’s not forget the humble carrot and hummus sticks combo, a popular after-school snack in our household. Hummus is the simplest dip to make at home, and virtually all supermarkets these days carry a decent brand. Spice up some store-bought hummus with a drizzle of olive oil and a dash of paprika and arrange carrot slices creatively to entice picky eaters.
What’s your favorite after school snack? Post it on instagram and share it with me by tagging @bynealy