The first few minutes after our little ones arrive home from school are often the most hectic time of the day. Amidst organizing homework schedules, getting dinner ready, coordinating bath times, and trying to keep everyone calm, many times, soon after they walk through the door (or earlier), the “Mooom, I’m hungry!!” comes like clockwork. And we know that, if we try to skip the snack, we’ll get no peace until dinner. Children have worked and played hard throughout their day and their tummies are rumbling. And then, for many of us, there comes the struggle of finding snacks that are fun enough, delicious enough, and have the right texture to entice picky eaters, all while being healthy for them. If this struggle sounds familiar, we hope to help you today. Here are 13 fun but healthy afternoon snacks for your little ones. We’re sure there’s something here to satisfy even the pickiest of eaters. And, we include tips on getting your little ones involved. After all, spending time with your kids is paramount to their success. And, picky eaters are more likely to partake if they’ve proudly helped choose and prepare the snack.
Fruit and Berry Delights
- Banana Chips
Most kids love chips. What’s not to love? They’re crunchy and they’re unhealthy! But, as parents, we don’t want our little ones filling their growing bodies with junk. So, how about some healthy banana chips? Their crunchy sweetness is likely to entice even the pickiest of eaters into enjoying a healthy, er, “delicious,” treat. (Remember not to use the word “healthy” around picky eaters!). Here’s your simple baking instructions.
Slice ripe bananas into 1/8 thick round slices. Then, lay them on a grease baking sheet and pop them in the oven at 200 F until golden brown, usually 2-3 hours. Lastly, let them harden at room temperature before dividing them up into snack sized sealable bags for afternoon snacks to last all week!
- Fruit Smoothies
These afterschool snacks are revered as treats for even the pickiest of eaters. And, the extent to which children can get involved in crafting their own treat makes the likelihood of success even higher! Lastly, these “treats” are a great way to infuse your children with the nutrients they need for health and success.
To begin, mix one cup of vanilla yogurt with your child’s top fruit and juice picks. For example, you might mix up a smoothie from 1 frozen banana and ¼ orange juice for a refreshing treat. Then, blend away until smooth. Just like kids love mixing a plethora of sodas for that perfect flavor, your children can now enjoy a healthy mix of their favorite flavors, combined with a smooth, treat-like consistency.
- Frozen Fruit Kebabs
If your kids respond well to crafting their own treats, this one is sure to be a winner! Kids can choose their own fruits to include on their Kebabs and can even choose a healthy dip. Here’s how.
To begin, have your children choose what they would like to include in their Kebabs. They can choose from berries, small fruits or sliced fruits. Then, carefully slip the fruit one by one onto bamboo skewers to create your kebabs. For example, you might try alternating raspberries and grapes. For smaller children, don’t forget to cut off the ends of the skewers to avoid the risk of stabbing. Then, freeze your kebabs. You may also dip your kebabs in Nutella, Yogurt or other such dips for extra fun and flavor.
- Microwave Baked Apple
This healthy treat is best served on cold, snowy or rainy days when a hot treat is just the thing to warm hungry bellies. You will need the following ingredients:
- 1 Fuji or Gala Apple
- 1 teaspoon raisins
- 1 tablespoon packed brown sugar
- 1 teaspoon unsalted butter
- 1/8 teaspoon cinnamon
First, core the apple and peel only the top ½ inch of the apple. Mix raisins, sugar and butter in a bowl and then stuff the apple with the mixture. In a microwave-safe bowl, place the apple in the microwave right side up. Next, pour ½ cup of water over the apple. Then, sprinkle the apple with a light dusting of cinnamon. Lastly, cover the bowl with a microwave-safe plastic wrap. Be careful to leave an opening for steam to escape. Microwave for 5 minutes or until the apple smells amazing and is soft. Be sure to check it every 3 minutes as times may vary depending on the microwave used. Once cooked, pour 1tsp of cooking liquid over the apple and serve in a cooled bowl or on a small plate.
- Fruit Leather
Remember fruit roll-ups? When they were all the craze, many parents were suspicious of these “healthy” treats. Now, you can make your own “fruit leather” and ensure that the ingredients you use are really healthy for your children. Here’s how:
Begin by mixing 1/3 cup no-sugar-added fruit preserves with 1 teaspoon of cornstarch. Then, spread the mixture on a strip of greased parchment in 2X12 inch strips. Bake for 45 minutes at 225 F. Let them cool. Lastly, trim the parchment to the desired shape and roll them up. These can be served throughout the week and are most fun for children when they get to choose the flavors.
photo credit: <a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/14727310@N04/4485706234″>banana walnut chocolate chip cookie</a> via <a href=”http://photopin.com”>photopin</a> <a href=”https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nd/2.0/”>(license)</a>
Of course, most children would love to come home to unhealthy snacks like chips, cookies, a pizza slice or a sugary Popsicle. But, as parents, we want the best for our kids. So, here’s a compromise: substitute the same unhealthy snacks your kids crave for healthy ones by substituting their ingredients. Here are a few ideas.
- Healthy Tortilla Pizzas
Healthy corn tortillas are easy to make and super healthy. This recipe only involves three ingredients: small corn tortillas, salsa, and shredded cheddar cheese.
To prepare, simply spread some cheese and salsa on each tortilla. Then, line a tray with foil and place your “pizzas” on the tray. Lastly, pop them into the toaster oven until the cheese is thoroughly melted and golden brown around the edges of the “pizzas.” For an extra treat, top with a dollop of cream-cheese or sour-cream before serving.
And, don’t forget to get your kids involved to create much coveted buy-in. They can spread toppings and preparing the pan with the foil lining.
- Peanut Butter & Banana Cookies
Cookies certainly aren’t known for their health properties. But, with this recipe, that’s all going to change. With just three ingredients, these cookies are sure to satisfy picky eaters and health-conscious parents alike.
To begin, gather together your ingredients: 1 cup whole grain oats, 2 well-ripened bananas, and 1 tablespoon peanut butter. Then, preheat your oven to 350 F and grease your cookie sheet. Combine your ingredients in a bowl and mash them all together. Create 12 rounded drops using a tablespoon and drop them onto your cookie sheet. Bake for 15 minutes. Remember that these cookies don’t brown like others. Instead, they’ll be chewy and sweet.
- No-Bake Fruit Pizza
Most kids love pizza but its unhealthy nature makes parents cringe. Here’s a way to give your kids the pizza experience infused with the nutrients they need. This recipe offers vitamins, proteins, hydrating properties, healthy grains and more.
To begin, gather your ingredients: whole grain tortillas, pita or flatbread; a protein spread such as natural nut butters or Greek Yogurt; toppings such as fresh and dried fruits, nuts, coconuts, granola and other such delectables. Then, for a special treat, you can add a small portion of a delicious topping like chocolate chips.
photo credit: <a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/51047615@N06/7089138311″>PBJ Banana Dog</a> via <a href=”http://photopin.com”>photopin</a> <a href=”https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/”>(license)</a>
Just Plain Fun
Some of our picky-eaters just need a little entertainment to get them interested. That is, sometimes it’s more a matter of keeping their attention on the task at hand. So, to make snack time quite entertaining, try these snacks.
- Gone Fishing
Create for your little one a fishing experience with this creative snack set-up. You’ll need some carrot sticks, a bowl of veggie cheese dip, and a handful of rainbow fish. The kids can dip their carrot sticks (fishing pole) into the cheese dip (the bait) and then go fishing for the fish crackers. What child wouldn’t love to go fishing for their own snacks?
- Apple Race-Car Snacks
Many little boys and girls are all about the toy cars. If you’re like many parents, pulling them away from their latest highway adventure to eat a snack can be a challenge. But, with this next snack idea, your child won’t even notice the transition.
To begin, gather together 4 jazz apples, 16 green grapes, a knife and 16 toothpicks. Now, core your apples and cut them in half. Next, cut each apple half into thirds so you have a center wedge from each one. Using the center wedge, on the bottom half where there is no peel, stick the toothpicks through the apple like car axles. Next, cut your grapes in half and stick one on each end of the toothpicks to create wheels. Now, serve. And, remember, for a little variety, you can substitute apples for pears.
- Ants on a Log
These are easy to prepare but sure to keep your littlest ones entertained. Moreover, they are incorporate veggies, fruits, and legumes. And, for a little variety or to avoid allergic reactions, substituting ingredients works well for this snack.
To begin, gather together celery stocks, peanut butter and raisins. Wash and cut your celery stocks to a suitable length. Fill in the stocks with peanut butter and set the raisins in the peanut butter to resemble ants walking along.
This also works well using a banana, peanut butter and blueberries. Simply cut the banana in half to resemble a log, slather peanut butter on the inside half and place your blueberries along the peanut butter to resemble ants.
And, for children with nut-allergies, you can substitute peanut butter for cream cheese or yogurt.
Can you think of any other ingredient substitutes to create our Ants on a Log snack?
These are fun for kids who love barbecues. But, they’re healthier and easier to make than traditional hot-dogs that require cooking time. First, gather your ingredients: whole-wheat hot dog buns, ½ a tablespoon of peanut butter or sunflower butter (for children with nut allergies), a banana, and some no-sugar added preserves in cherry, strawberry, or raspberry flavor. Spread the peanut butter along the inside of the buns (on both sides). Then, place the peeled banana inside as the “hot dog.” Lastly, top with no-sugar added preserves to look like ketchup. For smaller mouths, you can cut the banana in half before inserting it into the bun. Then, serve with some of our banana chips or our frozen fruit-kebabs for the whole barbecue experience!
- Cookie Cutter Fruit & Veggie Scenes
Cookie cutters are a great way to add a little fun to snack time. For example, use a flower cookie cutter to cut out flowers from sliced watermelon, kiwis, pears, and even fruit leather (recipe above). Then, use berries to add some color to the center of the flower. Add pretzels or carrot sticks, and snow peas to create leaves and stems. You can use cookie cutters to complete the scene by adding fruit butterflies, bugs, or clouds. (A yogurt dip works well for clouds as well.) You can even incorporate some veggies: use cookie cutters to make critters out of sliced cucumbers or tomatoes. Really, with this simple tool, the fun never ends! And, you can get your child involved safely by allowing them to choose and use the cookie cutters to make their own creations.
We’d love to know: what are your children’s favorite fun snacks? Please include them in our comment section below.