When your children come home from school with rumbling tummies, make snack time an extension of their nutrition plan by incorporating the same kinds of foods you would serve during mealtimes. Here are seven wholesome, yummy snack suggestions to get you started.
Core nutrition. Wash and core an unpeeled apple and place in a microwave-safe bowl. In the hollowed out center, add 1 teaspoon of low-fat margarine and sprinkle in cinnamon, nutmeg, and sugar substitute. Cover and cook for three minutes until soft. Add 1 tablespoon of chopped nuts or raisins to the core, if you want.
Zesty best chips and salsa. Spray a small, whole-wheat tortilla with olive oil. Add garlic powder, chili powder, or another spice, then bake at 400 degrees for four to six minutes. Increase salsa’s texture, taste and nutritional value by tossing in diced tomatoes, avocados, mango, or pineapple.
Stick ’em up! Food on a stick is always fun. Insert bread, cheese, and lunch meat cubes onto a skewer; add grape tomatoes, olives, pickles, and lettuce leaves for a sandwich on a stick. Or, cut up firm fruits such as melons, pineapples, grapes, apples, and strawberries and slide them onto a stick. Sweeten the treat by dipping one-third of the fruit into melted chocolate.
On a roll. Spread 1 tablespoon of hummus or low-fat cream cheese evenly over a small, whole-grain tortilla and top with diced vegetables; add herbs and spices if you want. Roll the tortilla shell tightly and insert toothpicks every half inch. Slice between toothpicks to make pick-up pinwheels. Turn this into a sweet rendition by using 1 tablespoon of peanut butter and chopped fresh fruit instead.
Peanut butter passion. Peanut butter is a favorite amongst kids. Top a chocolate rice cake with 1 tablespoon of peanut butter for that famous chocolate-peanut butter combo. You could also microwave 2 tablespoons of peanut butter for 15 seconds then add 2 tablespoons of water and whip with a fork until smooth. Serve it with fresh fruit or vegetables. Or mix one-quarter cup of each: peanut butter, honey, nonfat dry milk, oats and rice cereal. Shape into 18 one-inch balls. Crush one-half cup of rice cereal in a zip-top bag, then drop in balls and shake until they are coated.
Chill out! Blend 1 small container of reduced-fat yogurt, 1 cup of frozen fruit and one-quarter cup of fat-free milk. Pour mixture into small paper cups, insert a Popsicle stick, and place in the freezer until solid. Or, break a graham cracker sheet in half, fill one side with 2 tablespoons of fat-free whipped topping, add chopped fruit, and cover with remaining cracker. Wrap in plastic wrap and freeze.
Going bananas! Bananas offer a bunch of options: Blend together a peeled, frozen banana, 2 tablespoons of oats, 1 tablespoon of peanut butter, and 1 tablespoon of low-fat milk. Gradually add milk in 1 tablespoon increments, blending after each addition, until the mixture is a smoothie consistency.
Another idea is to insert a Popsicle stick into each end of a peeled banana. Soften 2 tablespoons of peanut butter in the microwave. Roll the banana in peanut butter then in rice cereal, granola or sunflower seeds. Wrap in plastic and freeze eight hours or overnight. Or, slice a banana in half lengthwise, spread one tablespoon of peanut butter on one half, then sprinkle with granola. Place the remaining banana over it; eat and enjoy.
Denise Morrison Yearian is the former editor of two parenting magazines and the mother of three children.