Class in session for after-school snacking 101

Published 5:00 pm Saturday, August 13, 2011

School has started for some kids (including mine) and will soon be starting for the rest.

Snacking after school is a big part of a child’s diet. Kids have smaller stomachs, making snacking essential to get in a day’s worth of nutrients. Snacks should be tasty yet nutritious for kids, and simple for parents.

Here are some key guidelines when planning snacks.

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Use the tools: MyPlate has recently replaced MyPyramid. The new guide easily depicts recommended portion sizes of food groups, and works for both meals and snacking. Remember to keep half your plate, or snack in this case, full of fruits or vegetables.

Positive Outlook: Think of snacks as an opportunity to eat healthy, not as one to eat extra.

Open Options: Let the kids choose from several options at snack time.

Have foods available you know they will like, paired with the foods you wished they’d eat more of. If you keep putting a food in front of them, they are more likely to try it eventually.

The Golden Rule: It is the parent’s job to decide what foods are served, when they are served and where they are served.

It is important to offer a variety of foods every day.

The child has a job too. The child decides which foods to eat and how much to eat.

Top 5 Dietitian Picks

Remember to keep half your snack a fruit or vegetable.

1. Lite or fat-free yogurt paired with sliced bananas or berries and a dash of granola. Try the new Chobani Champion Kid’s Greek yogurt for a boost of protein.

2. 1/4 cup mixed nuts with dried cranberries.

3. Veggie slices with hummus or peanut butter.

4. Two percent string cheese sticks paired with grapes or baby carrots.

5. Teddy Grahams or whole grain Gold fish paired with half of a banana or orange.

Studies have shown that kids involved in food prep are more likely to eat what they make. Here are some fun snack ideas to get them involved.

1. Layered Fruit Fun. In an ice cream cone, layer cut-up fruit (such as strawberries, blueberries, peaches or bananas) with vanilla or fruit-flavored yogurt. Add a layer of granola or crushed graham cracker for a little crunch.

2. Effortless Apple Crisp. Stir two tablespoons crushed cinnamon crunchy granola bars and a dash of cinnamon into an applesauce cup.

3. Frozen Banana Crunch. Slice a banana into four pieces, cover pieces with yogurt and sprinkle each piece with a crushed low-sugar cereal.

Wrap them in waxed paper or aluminum foil and place in the freezer. After removing them from the freezer, let thaw for several minutes and enjoy them as a chilled treat.

Boatloads of fruit

Preparation time: 15 minutes

Serves 2

All you need

3/4 cup fresh strawberries

1/2 cup mixed fresh fruit (Granny Smith apples with peel, bananas, grapes and pears, approximately 2 tablespoons of each, but be creative and use any fresh fruit combination you like)

2 tablespoons light frozen whipped topping, thawed

2 waffle bowls (optional)*

All you need to do

Place the strawberries in a blender and blend until smooth. In a medium-sized bowl (or waffle bowl*), gently stir together the cut-up assorted fruit. Spoon into small bowls. Drizzle with the pureed strawberries. Top each with 1 tablespoon of whipped cream. Waffle bowls can be used as a fun option.

From the Cool Fuel Cookbook for Kids