After School Snacks for Children: Keep it Healthy

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After school snacks are a necessity for most children. Lunch was hours ago, and even if it wasn't, most kids get off the school bus ravenous. It's easy to have convenience foods on hand for the busy hours that span from after school through dinner time. But, prepackaged convenience snacks often aren't the best choice. They are loaded with fat, calories, sugar and preservatives. Luckily, there are some healthy choices that are more delicious and just as easy to prepare as prepackaged snacks.

Fruit

A crisp, crunchy apple or a juicy, ripe orange both make quick, delicious snacks. Most fruits need minimal, if any, preparation to eat. The natural sugars and high fiber content will give your kids energy and fill their stomachs as they wait for dinner. The extra vitamins that fresh fruits are loaded with are another plus of this convenient snack.

Garbanzo Beans

Otherwise known as chick peas, garbanzo beans are a high-fiber powerhouse. Kids love to munch on these protein-filled snacks. Simply open a can, dump the beans in a strainer and rinse. The beans are ready to eat plain and will provide lots of energy for active children.

Frozen Berries

For those with a sweet tooth, frozen berries are a good snack choice. Blueberries taste like hard candies when frozen. Not only do they become super sweet, but they are the nutritional gold standard. Buying a bag of frozen berries from the grocery store is an economical way to get berries into your children's diets. They are available throughout the year in the frozen foods section.

Toast

Toast made from healthy, whole-wheat bread and spread with all-natural preserves is a delicious after school snack. Served with a glass of cold milk, it provides healthy carbohydrates and protein to give your school kids energy enough to plow through the toughest of homework assignments. As an alternative to jam or jelly, cinnamon sugar or honey make wonderful toppings.

Cheese

Cheese can be expensive, but it is a filling snack. Served with fruit and crackers, it is the equivalent of a small meal. This is an especially good snack on those days when dinner is going to be a little later than normal. It will keep the children from getting hungry and spoiling their appetites with other, less healthy alternatives.

Smoothies

Plain yogurt, fruit juice, a banana, and frozen berries mixed in a blender will make a fun snack that feels like a treat. The fruit will sweeten the yogurt naturally, so there is no need to buy anything other than plain yogurt. These are great served on a hot day, especially when the kids will be running back outdoors for play time with their friends.

Popcorn

Skip the microwave popcorn, which is loaded with preservatives and artificial flavorings, and make popcorn in an air popper. Add melted butter and a light sprinkle of salt for a very filling after school snack.

Snacks don't have to come in individual serving-size packages with cartoon characters on the label. The healthiest snacks are packaged a little more plainly, but are just as delicious and more filling than any of the prepackaged snacks. These healthy alternatives will keep your school-aged child on the right track to a healthy lifestyle.

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