When your hungry kids burst through the door after school, they're ready for a snack. Why not make it a treat they'll love -- and something that will give them the energy to play outside and still be ready to tackle their homework? Providing them with choices makes everybody happy. Kids love to choose their own snacks and treats, and moms want to know that there are healthier options.
Take a dip
Kids love anything they can dip! Sliced fruit can satisfy a sweet tooth when dipped in flavored yogurt, applesauce or honey. Hummus, bean dip or salsa is a perfect dip for baked tortilla chips and pita triangles, and low-fat ranch dressing disappears with dippers of sugar snap peas, bell pepper slices, carrot curls and cucumber sticks. Let them decide which dip and help with the selection of the fruits and vegetables.
Pizza can be a fun after-school treat and mini-pizzas made with an English muffin or pita as the crust are a healthy choice and easy to fix. Smear on tomato sauce and add low-fat mozzarella cheese, then top with chopped veggies and lean chicken. Pop in the microwave to melt the cheese, and serve up the smiles.
Make cookies with applesauce to replace some of the sugar
Add oats, dried fruit, nuts or whole-wheat flour. You'll be adding fiber and cutting the calories and fat without losing any of the flavor. Any cookie dough can be baked in a pan and made into cookie bars. These are great grab-and-go treats for families on the run with after-school activities. Try your favorite oatmeal cookie recipe this way, and add a dollop of raspberry jam for a sweet surprise with the hearty crunch.
Blend up yogurt parfaits
Yogurt and fresh fruit served over crushed graham cracker pieces -- iIt's a sweet treat you can fix in under five minutes. Or spoon layers of berries with a few chocolate chips and whipped cream into a clear plastic glass. A little whipped cream indulgence complements a healthy serving of fruit.
A little chocolate can go a long way!
Melt some chocolate chips and dip pretzel sticks in the hot melted chocolate, leaving a "handle" for holding. Chill the dipped pretzels in the fridge to set the chocolate.
Apple toast is quick and tasty
Place thinly sliced apples on buttered bread, sprinkle with cinnamon and broil. Use the healthier whole-wheat bread for the toast.
Make it fun
After-school treats are fun, and celebrate a long day of learning, so add a bit of cheer to treat time by letting the kids help assemble a special snack.
Roast some fresh pumpkin seeds in butter and salt, or have some giggles putting together "ants on a log" -- celery sticks stuffed with peanut butter and dotted with raisin "ants."
More school snack ideas
7 After-school snack recipes with veggies
Top 10 Microwaveable after-school snacks
Back to school food dos and don'ts