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Having healthy food selections available at home can provide a child's first opportunity to customize his own signature snack, whether it's adding a sprinkle of Parmesan cheese to a bowl of popcorn or topping a cracker with cottage cheese and a cherry tomato. Either way, the snack is his creation, and this helps to build your child's self-esteem, allowing him to become confident and comfortable in the kitchen.
With a bit of planning and food preparation (such as slicing cheese or chopping raw vegetables and fruit) on your part, you can be assured your child is alleviating those after-school hunger pangs with nosh that's both nutritious and creative.
Simple blender recipe
Here's a terrific idea for a non-fattening milkshake you can feel good about. In a blender, combine one part vanilla-flavoured almond milk or milk with one part tropical fruit juice, such as orange-mango or pineapple. Toss in a small handful of frozen berries or frozen banana slices and blend until smooth.
Fun and easy Ants on a Log
How about "Ants on a Log"? Fill celery sticks with peanut or almond butter and place a few raisins, dried cranberries or dried cherries on top as "ants." Or cut an apple into slices and spread with a little peanut butter or almond butter, then sprinkle with raisins.
Banana split snack
Shhh… don't tell the kids this banana split is good for them! Slice a banana into a bowl and top with fruit yogurt or frozen yogurt, then add sliced strawberries or a spoonful of sugar-reduced strawberry fruit spread. Sprinkle with chopped nuts.
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Bites from the weekend
On the weekend, make extra waffles or pancakes and let cool. Stack between layers of waxed or parchment paper and freeze. Kids can pop one or two into the toaster oven, toaster or microwave for a quick snack. Top with syrup, honey, jam or fresh fruit.
Many tastes with many dips
A sure-fire snack-time winner is a helping of raw veggies, mini pitas or whole grain crackers with a favourite dip, such as ranch dressing, tzatziki, guacamole, salsa or hummus. Mix it up, or provide more than one for variety.
Trail mix for grab-and-go
Trail mix makes an easy, portable bite to eat for kids and adults alike. Here's a simple recipe: Toss two parts each toasted-oat O's, wheat cereal squares and pretzel sticks with one part each corn nuts; honey-roasted almonds or peanuts; and raisins or chopped dried apricots. Make as large a batch as you like, as extras can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for up to one month.
Experiment with that bowl of cereal
Any time of day is the right time for a hunger-busting bowl of cereal. Try experimenting and customizing your own "recipe" by adding yogurt, applesauce or sugar-reduced fruit spread, and chopped fresh or dried fruit.
Kitchen safety first
These ideas are meant to be guidelines and are entirely dependent on your children's ages and the amount of time between snack time and dinner time. Make sure your kids know how to operate the microwave, toaster oven, blender and any other small appliance they may be using before you let them do so unsupervised.
Let your kids get involved in planning and shopping for their own snacks, and who knows? Perhaps you will be inspired to make midday snacks for yourself based on one of your kids' concoctions.
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