Whole grains are excellent brain boosters, making them a go-to ingredient in healthy snacks for kids. A snack featuring whole wheat bread (or whole grain tortillas, crackers, or English muffins) comes with enriched flour that contains folate. This B vitamin helps form memory cells in the brain. Folate has long been touted as an important nutrient for pregnant women and for the early neural development of babies. But it turns out the vitamin’s brain-building effects may continue into childhood, helping to form our memory centers. What’s more, whole grains are a good source of certain B vitamins that improve alertness.
Low-fat milk and cheese are two other brilliant after-school energy sources. Low-fat dairy is a super source of protein, vitamin D, and phosphorus, and also plays an important role in our bodies’ production of insulin. A diet rich in low-fat dairy also may protect children from obesity.
If yogurt is a family favorite, plain yogurt is always a better option in healthy snacks for kids than flavored versions. The added "fruit" in many fruit-flavored yogurts is mostly sugary fruit syrup. Keep favorite real-fruit “all fruit” jam or preserves handy for your child to add to yogurt; for extra protein, make it creamy Greek yogurt. For other good sources of protein, keep plenty of tuna salad, hard-cooked eggs, and peanut butter in the kitchen.
Fruit will help keep your child hydrated, and this—along with regular exercise—will also help him or her stay regular. Constipation is a common problem for kids, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics. It can result in their feeling sluggish and lethargic, and in more severe cases, anxious and unfocused. Speaking of hydration, since it’s hard to know how much water your kids are drinking during the school day, offer plenty of water at snack time, as well as at mealtime.
For fun, tasty fuel that you and your kids can feel good about, try these healthy after-school snacks from the Rodale Recipe Finder.
#1: Quick Pizza.One of the classic after-school snacks is English muffin pizza; just remember to make it using healthy whole-grain muffins. For another healthy take on a familiar snack, whip up these Sweet Potato Chips.
#2: Olive-Cream Cheese Sandwiches. Slather creamy spreads made with low-fat cream cheese onto wheat crackers, toast, or tortillas.
#3: Tuna Yachts. For a fun, out-of-the-ordinary super snack, mix up some tuna salad to fill endive leaves or celery stalks.
#4: Peanut Butter and Raisin Porcupines. Once you’ve done the mixing, your kids can create these tasty treats. For another after-school standard, serve up apple slices with cinnamon-spiked peanut butter.
#5: ”Instant” Strawberry Frozen Yogurt. Blending frozen strawberries into yogurt creates a sweet, fro-yo-like treat that’s full of taste, but not sugar.