Nutritional therapist and mother, Amanda Ashy-Boyd, shares her Top 10 Healthy Afterschool Snacks That Kids Will Eat and Love
Collecting kids from school requires logistical planning comparative to a NASA expedition.
For working parents, wrap-around care needs to be in place five days a week; for mums on maternity leave, it’s praying for that perfectly timed break in between naps and feeds, and hoping that baby will willingly get into the variable sling, car seat and pushchair without making you (both) cry along the way.
For me, three days a week, it’s an hour-long outing, first collecting Melody from nursery, then driving, parking, and walking to collect Eliza on time. Often times I’m running from car to class, with Melody on my hip, desperately trying to avoid being the last parent at the classroom door.
The first thing that comes out of their mouths, having not seen me for six-plus hours is, “Snacky?”
They’re starving (or so they say). Kids burn a lot of energy and not just from running around. It requires a fair amount of focus for a five-year-old to sit still, pay attention, follow rules and learn phonics, so fair enough, they’re starving!
Finding the healthiest ways to replenish your child’s energy after school can easily get overlooked, as we are daunted by our increasing domestic load, and day upon day exhaustion from long work weeks and constant night wakes.
Grabbing some Smarties or Quavers and maybe a banana, knowing they won’t fight you on those choices, seems like the best option.
However, we quickly realise that offering the wrong snack, due to it registering on the substance scale at around zero, means that we subsequently shovel food into the kids mouths until dinner time, at which point they decide that they are no longer hungry, and no longer require the actual food that you spent half an hour preparing.
Don’t fret, parents, a little pre-planning can potentially pull you out of this pattern. Yes, it’s one more task to add to your already overflowing to-do list, but it’s a good one, and everyone will benefit.
Remember, snacks are different from treats
Snacks should be thought of as mini meals. Snacks are more than the empty calories that come from crisps and candy; they provide nourishment that will keep your kid balanced and full until the next big meal rolls around. Here are my Top 10 Healthy After-school snacks that kids will eat and love.
1. Buttered rice cakes with honey and hemp seeds (apple on the side)
Make a rice cake sandwich by generously spreading butter over each rice cake, adding honey and a sprinkle of hemp seeds. My 5 year old can eat one rice cake sandwich plus an apple easily. Sometimes I’ll triple it. The apple also has good fibre to help move food more slowly through the digestive tract, keeping your child fuller for longer. What are hemp seeds? See below.
2. Crackers with cheese, grapes and cashew nuts
Throw it all into a container and go. Hand it over at pick up and let them munch their way through it. Go for a dense cracker like a cheesy oat cake or seeded cracker to add more protein and fibre, helping to regulate blood sugar to slow digestion. The goal is to create a balance between protein, fat and carbohydrates (nuts, cheese, crackers) so your child doesn’t spike and then crash, needing more food within 20-30 minutes.
3. Peanut butter and honey sandwich with sliced apple and cashews
Jams are usually filled with added sugar, so swapping the jam with honey (although still a free sugar) will add yummy sweetness while removing the unnecessary refined sugar from the diet. You can add thinly sliced apple inside the sandwich for extra crunch, or offer it on the side with a handful of cashews. Cashews are typically a favourite for kids because they are creamy and have a slight sweetness to them, rather than the bitterness and dryness of a walnut, for example.
4. Banana bread and yogurt
Banana bread is a favourite in our house. It’s so versatile, offering you the option to use any flour you choose, along with nuts, seeds, raisins, chocolate – whatever, as long as there are bananas you’re good! The eggs in the recipe, along with the flour adds a lot of substance to this snack. You can make it once a week, and with that you’ve got two of the five school days covered for after-school nibbles. Offer a pot of yogurt on the side (or when you get home) to really round out the mini meal.
5. Mango muffin and yogurt
Another quick recipe containing flour and eggs to bulk up the after-school mini meal. Again, offer with yogurt or a piece of fruit and nuts.
6. Tortilla wrap with various fillings
- Hummus, tomato, cucumber, pumpkin seeds (protein and fibre), marmite optional
- Ham and cheese melt
- Smoked salmon and cream cheese
- Cream cheese and strawberries
For extra protein use wholewheat and/or seeded wraps
7. Carrots, cucumber, breadsticks, hummus, olives, boiled egg whites, apple
A cold mezze for pick up, packed with some of your kids 5-a-day is a parenting win. With this snack, they are also getting a good balance of protein, fat and carbs. Again, throw it all into a container and hand it over and let them munch their way through it.
8. Yogurt bowl: (nuts, raisins, hemp seeds*, cashews, honey (sliced apple or pear on the side)
Mix all of the above into a bowl with some Greek yogurt. Greek yogurt will have less sugar and more protein than normal or low-fat products. In fact, just avoid low-fat products at all costs. If a yogurt bowl is too much to eat on the go, just have him take a five minutes breather to scoff the snack before moving onto the next planned adventure. Even if that adventure is the walk home, with siblings in tow, everyone will probably benefit from the quick time to renourish.
9. Some favourite store-bought snacks
- Organix: organic kids snacks
- Little Dish: proper food and snacks for kids
- Bear: food made from baked fruit and veg i.e. Yo-Yo
- Kallo: flavoured rice cakes
- Nakd Bars: made from dried fruits and nuts
It’s important to remember to hydrate your kid. Although their natural thirst would probably prompt a drink, you can remind them occasionally to take a sip. However, don’t force loads of liquid, as this can curb their appetite, and make their bellies feel artificially full, leaving them eating less now and wanting more later.
*A note on hemp seeds
Yes, it’s true, hemp and the cannabis plant do have an association, but don’t worry – hemp seeds don’t actually cause any psychotropic reactions. Your child is safe. What hemp does provide is protein, fibre and essential fatty acids. Essential fats are SO important for our tiny humans for many reasons, but one good reason is for their growing brain. So, boost your kid’s brain power with a fistful of hemp seeds.
About the Author: Amanda Ashy-Boyd
As a qualified practitioner, I support and advise my clients through a combination of science-based nutrition and holistic principles. I also educate my clients on how they can choose to live a practical, healthy lifestyle.
My passion is to help parents help their children develop a healthy relationship with food, starting in conception, and to understand and experience the wonderment of putting good food in our bodies. Please contact me at The Healthy Happy Baby for more information or to arrange a free 15-minute chat.