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Healthy after-school snacking

August 23, 2018
Gwen Crum , MOV Parent

If your kids are like my daughter, the first thing they do upon walking in the door after a long day at school is head straight to the pantry or refrigerator. After-school snacking is almost a given for kids, but after a hard day at school, kids need healthy snacks to refuel. Whether your kids are refueling for sports, arts or gaming, healthy snacks are imperative especially to school-aged kids.

"Junk food," as we often call it, is full of empty calories which have led to obese and overweight children across the U.S. Even kids who are actively involved in sports need healthy snacks because they are high in nutrients. Fruits and vegetables are not only low in calories, but they contain vitamins and minerals that are needed for your children's immune system. Healthy fats and proteins (often found in nuts and seeds) are important for brain function and muscle memory. Calcium is imperative for bone development which primarily occurs during childhood.

Experts agree that introducing these foods at very young ages is important in helping kids develop healthy eating habits. Stocking up on healthy snacks and making them readily available is key to maintaining those healthy habits. Keep a bowl of fresh fruit on the kitchen counter. Cut-up fresh fruits and veggies so they're easy to grab and go; don't hide them away in the drawers at the bottom of the refrigerator, but keep it at your children's eye-level in clear containers. Have a basket of dried fruit, low-fat granola bars, almonds, cashews, walnuts, pumpkin and sunflower seeds in the pantry. Stock up on Greek yogurt and string cheese; both are high in protein. Encouraging kids to increase water and milk consumption is also imperative. Often, these drinks are displaced with sodas or sports drinks which have lots of calories but no nutritional value.

At my house, I have found the easiest way to avoid junk food is to simply stop buying it. Make it a "treat" by only allowing it on special occasions like birthdays or holidays. Kids tend to taste and eat foods which they help make. Search online for healthy snacks which include simple, healthy ingredients. An example is listed below. Helping your kids develop healthy snacking habits isn't always easy, but the payoff can life-long and life-changing.

Energy Bites

Ingredients:

2 tablespoons honey

2/3 cup creamy peanut butter (or sunbutter)

1 cup Old Fashioned Oats

1/2 cup mini, semi-sweet chocolate chips

1/2 cup flax seeds

Directions:

Mix together and refrigerate for about 20 minutes.

Roll into bite-sized balls.

Enjoy!

Gwen Crum is a Families and Health Agent for the WVU Extension Service.

 
 

 

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