We all know diets that are high in refined sugars and calories have been shown to contribute to obesity in kids, and adults for that matter. It can be so easy for them to grab a bag of chips to snack on in the afternoon but, as research continues to show, simple carbohydrates aren’t necessarily your kids’ friends.
According to the Centers for Disease Control, 80 percent of 10- to 15-year-olds who are overweight become obese adults by the age of 25. One way to be sure your kids are on a healthy track? Pay attention to how they snack. The best after-school snacks are those that are full of protein and lots of complex carbohydrates, and we have five tasty suggestions to get the snacking started.
Cheese: The protein in this kid-friendly snack keeps energy levels high until dinnertime. We like to stick salt-free pretzel sticks into cubes of low-fat cheese to make “satellite snacks,” but you can also make cheese more interesting to kids by cutting it into fun shapes with a cookie cutter and making kabobs with your favorite fruit.
Peanut Butter: This versatile childhood favorite has plenty of protein and fiber, just make sure to stick with all natural. For a change, try making silly PB&J sandwiches with toasted mini waffles or rice cakes instead of bread, or try it with yogurt and raspberries in a yummy frozen treat that’s super fun to eat.
Monkey Bars: This soon to be favorite is packed with Vitamin C and potassium-rich bananas are teamed with oats and currants and flavored with a hint of cinnamon.
vegetable cooking spray
1 tablespoon butter
1 tablespoon light brown sugar
1 cup rolled oats
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 cup whole-wheat flour
1/2 cup unsweetened apple juice
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup warm water
1 ripe banana
1/4 cup dried currants
1. Heat the oven to 350°F. Spray an 8-inch baking pan with vegetable cooking spray.
2. In a medium bowl, beat the butter and sugar together until creamy. can add the oats, cinnamon and flour and mix well.
3. Make it a . In a small bowl, combine the apple juice, vanilla extract and 1/2 cup of warm water. Add this to the dry ingredients and stir to combine. Stir in the banana and currants. can help spread the dough into the prepared pan.
4. Bake until the top is golden, about 1 hour.
5. Cool on a wire rack. Cut into 12 squares and serve. These bars can be made ahead and stored in the refrigerator for up to one week.
Mixed Berry Smoothie: Packed with fiber and protein a small serving of this will hold the kids over until dinner while also giving them the added nutrients they need!
Mixed Berry Smoothie
1 cup orange juice
2 cups plain, low-fat yogurt
3/4 cup washed, stemmed raspberries
3/4 cup washed, stemmed blackberries
3/4 cup washed, stemmed blueberries
honey to taste
1. Place all the ingredients in a blender. Blend on high speed until smooth.
Cucumber Hummus: We all know that kids love things that they can dip their food in so why not slice up some veggies or give them a few pita chips and try this great veggie-filled dip!
1 cup diced cucumber (from about 1/2 large cucumber, peeled)
1-2 cloves garlic
3 tablespoons water
1 teaspoon flax seeds
15 ounces cooked chickpeas (or canned, drained and rinsed)
1 tablespoon tahini
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon salt (or to taste)
1/4 teaspoon sumac, optional for garnish
1. Put the cucumber, water, garlic, and flax seed into a blender or food processor and blend on high speed until frothy. Add the remaining ingredients (except sumac) and blend on high until smooth. Pour into a bowl and refrigerate until chilled and slightly thicker. Sprinkle with sumac and serve.
Variations: Add one or more of the following to taste: ground cumin, chipotle chile powder, 1 to 2 tablespoons chopped green olives, 1 tablespoon chopped green onions, 1 tablespoon chopped parsley or mint, roasted red pepper