Wednesday, 12 September 2012

Healthy After School Snacks

My kids (like most I imagine) like an afternoon snack when they finish school. As their mother, I want to be able to give them something that they enjoy, and that is good for them. However, in the rush that is the end of the day, I don't always put much thought into what I'm giving them, and have been known to resort to a cheap shop bought cake or a couple of biscuits. These things are fine sometimes, but it started happening more often and I don't want to feed my kids a heap of sugar as soon as they finish school - and when I'm expecting them to eat dinner in a couple of hours. 

So I've compiled a list of healthy after school snacks. Things that are a little bit out of the ordinary and things that are more obvious. You'll notice there's not a total ban on sugar, but I do have a preference towards home made treats as opposed to shop bought ones. Shop bought treats are convenient, but I can't control the amount of sugar (and other processed ingredients) that are put into them. I think most things in this list are quite balanced, not too labour intensive for mums to do and are things that kids will still enjoy.

- Milo yoghurt (see photo above). Easy to do and something my kids love, this is sure to be a winner. It's just vanilla yoghurt with a sprinkle of milo on the top. There's a bit less than a teaspoon of milo added to the yoghurt you see here, and I've just used the end of a teaspoon to swirl it in a little bit.

- Ants on a log. An old favourite with the kids in our house. It's simply celery sticks cut to child size, filled with peanut butter and has a few sultanas sprinkled on top. 

- Frozen yoghurt tubs. Pick up the individual yoghurt tubs when they've been reduced in price at the supermarket and pop them into the freezer. An instant sweet, cool treat for the kids after school. 

- Frozen banana dipped in chocolate. Do this with half bananas so they're easier to handle. Push an icy pole stick into the end of it and half dip it in melted chocolate. You can also dip it in some crushed nuts too. Lay on a baking tray lined with baking paper and freeze. Once frozen you can wrap them individually or put into a container to stay fresh. Perfect summer treat!

- Sushi. Making sushi is a bit on the fiddly side, but it's an unusual and healthy snack for kids. Make the filling inexpensive and keep it simple by using tinned tuna, cucumber, corn and avocado. Even ham and tomato! Let your imagination go wild and make it according to your child's taste.

- Cheese, crackers and sultanas. Kids love a bit of variety on a plate. Vary the type of cheese and crackers to keep it interesting. Try some more unusual cheeses like Edam or Swiss too. There's a big range of kids cheeses available now. We use rice crackers most of the time, but it's certainly not limited to these!

Frozen Fruit Crush. Use tinned fruit salad for this when other fruits are not in season or for convenience.

- Yoghurt Berry Pops. Easy to make ahead of time, these are sure to be a favourite with the kids. Perfect for Summer or a warm Spring afternoon.

- BBQ Popcorn. A nice change from plain or sweetened popcorn. Store in an airtight container. 

Corn thins with peanut butter or vegemite. A nice and easy snack. The corn thins are a great staple for the pantry and taste like popcorn! Always a big hit with my kids.

- Fruit or savoury muffins. Use my never fail muffin recipe to either make muffins full of fruit or omit the sugar and add grated cheese, carrot, corn and zucchini to make delicious savoury muffins. The butter in the recipe can also be substituted for rice bran oil or similar and the milk for rice or soy if you'd like to make them dairy free.

- Pikelets. So easy to make and can be frozen! Add grated apple and cinnamon to them for something a bit different.

- Rice Paper Rolls. Kids love these, full of rice noodles and raw vegetables. If you're feeling inventive, make a peanut dipping sauce for them too. Kids love dip :)

- Homemade cakes, biscuits and slices. Make your child's favourite treats for that special 'sometimes' after school snack.

- FRUIT. Any way you'd like to present it, whether it's threaded onto skewers to make wands, rockmelon 'boats' complete with pirate flag, cut with cookie cutters into animal shapes or just cut up on a plate, fruit is a winner with most children. Freeze melon for the warmer weather. 

I hope you find this list useful. If nothing else it might inspire you to think of something new that your child will love! A little bit of forward planning goes a long way and will save you a lot of time in the afternoons. Many of the above ideas are either designed to be frozen or can be frozen easily, which means the most you'll need to do is put it in the fridge in the morning and it will be ready to eat after school.


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