Summer snacks for everyone!

Summertime translates into snack time for children. Somehow the liberated status of being out of school seems to unleash an incredible appetite that makes a piranha look demure. Here are some great summer snack ideas to keep hungry tummies at bay.

As any mom who has survived a summer with kids knows, the kitchen can get an extreme workout. The refrigerator and the pantry almost seem to hold their own contest to see which can be opened more.

Summer snacking is as common as a sunburn. And if you’re not careful, it can be just as painful as one when you go to the grocery store. Preventative measures, such as a well-stocked pantry and an arsenal of quick and easy snacks, will help save your skin.

1. First fruits

The first line of defense from the snack attackers should be fruit. This is the time of year to make all kinds of delicious and nutritious fruits available to your snackers. Frozen grapes make a refreshing snack on a particularly hot day.

2. Smooth move

Smoothies are great for kids on the go. You can whip one up in the blender and give your swimmer or soccer player a great high-protein, before-the-game snack that won’t weigh him down. (See “Smoothie Basics” at the end of this article.)

3. Butter ’em up

Peanut butter ’em up, that is. Peanut butter is high in protein and, true to its proclivity to stick to anything, will stick to a kid’s ribs for a while. Try putting peanut butter on rice cakes, apple slices, celery sticks, pretzels and crackers.

4. Sticks and dip

Skip the chips and get out the sticks. Let your kids spear all kinds of veggies on wooden skewers and dip them in a healthy dip. (For younger children, adult supervision may be needed.) Kids will try just about anything once if they get to poke it with a stick! The dip factor just makes eating veggies a little more fun.

5. Pop it up

Popcorn is a terrific, high-fiber snack — if it’s not dripping with butter. Also steer clear of the microwave varieties. Most contain hydrogenated oils as the medium for popping. Use a hot-air popper instead.

6. Snack kabob

Take those wooden skewers and make fresh fruit kabobs for your kids, or let them do the creating. Vanilla yogurt makes a perfect dip.

7. Popsicle fun

Make your own Popsicles by combining vanilla yogurt and orange juice. Use plastic molds and experiment a bit. You could use plain juice, leftover smoothie or pureed fruit for other fun Popsicles.

8. Snack buffet

Fill the cups of a muffin tin with raisins, pretzels, cereal, grapes, soy nuts, cheese cubes or whatever else you like, and let your younger kids enjoy a snack buffet.

9. Pizza power

A little pizza sauce on half of a whole-wheat English muffin, topped with some shredded skim-milk mozzarella, is a hearty, substantial snack for your ever-hungry crew. Use a toaster oven to avoid heating up the house with the big oven.

10. Sundae school

Using either yogurt or cottage cheese as the base, allow your children to build their own healthy sundaes. Toppings can include just about anything, but try to stick to healthy foods like raisins, fruit, low-fat granola and so forth.

11. Dangle a carrot

Let your older kids select a carrot, wash it, and peel it themselves. Not only is this good for them nutrition-wise, but taking responsibility for their own nutrition will pay off later and help them to make wise choices.

Smoothie basics

Everything goes in a blender (just make sure you don’t float the protein powder on top or it won’t blend). Determine how many you are making.

You’ll need the following:

Something sweet. Don’t toss your bananas when they pass their prime. Freeze them, just as they are. (You could go to the trouble of peeling and sticking them in a freezer bag, but why bother?) After they freeze, the peels will turn black. When you’re ready to use them, peel them with a paring knife and place one-half banana per serving in the blender.

Something for flavor. A teaspoon of frozen orange juice concentrate per serving works well. You can use frozen strawberries or raspberries — whatever appeals to you. A little vanilla extract is also a nice touch.

Liquid. You can use regular milk, soy milk, fruit juice or even yogurt mixed with some water. Protein. I use a scoop of protein powder per serving (If your grocery store doesn’t have this, check a health food store.) Look for high protein, low carbs and no aspartame.

It’s time to start your engines — turn on the blender! You should have a delicious smoothie emerging shortly. Pair the smoothie with a whole-grain muffin, and you’ll have one great breakfast.


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