School lunches have been heavily debated for some time since they offer very little nutrition for growing kids. Unfortunately, bad eating habits are often perpetuated at home in the form of unhealthy after-school snacks. Not only do unhealthy snacks such as potato chips, cereal, pies, bread, and fruit roll-ups contain very little nutritional value, but most of them also contain a lot of hidden sugar, which is bad for the teeth. So what can you give your ravenous kids at the end of a busy school day? Let's have a look at healthier options.
1. Dried fruit in plain yogurt
Packed with nutrients and delicious, this is one healthy snack. You could even add in some whole-grain cereal for added fiber to keep them until supper time.
2. Fresh fruit kebabs
Cut up fresh, water-rich fruits and let your children make their own kebabs. Again, they could dip it in plain yogurt or keylime dip.
Prepare a healthy smoothie using fresh fruits and vegetables, such as kale, spinach, cucumber, pineapple, and melons. It is filling, but it also has a fun aspect.
Rich in protein and calcium, cheese keeps up the energy levels while building strong teeth and bones. Serve cheese with pretzel sticks, or get creative with strawberries, melon and grape kebabs, and different cheeses.
Good for the body and mind, hummus is easy to make and delicious. Serve it with small vegetable dippers.
6. Banana "ice-cream"
Slice bananas and freeze them until you're ready to use them. When the kids ask for ice cream, toss the bananas in a blender with just a dash of plain yogurt and you have a healthy alternative. You could experiment with different flavors by adding raw cocoa and honey, or frozen pineapple or strawberries, too.
7. Healthier Baked Goods
Experiment with healthier baking by substituting sugar for stevia or honey and by sneaking fruits and vegetables into your goods. Add seeds, nuts, bananas, carrots, apples, zucchini and sweet potatoes into your muffins, breads and bars - nobody (but you!) will even notice.
8. Oat Squares
Easy to make, oat squares with seeds, nuts, and raisins are portable, delicious, and loved by most children.
9. Peanut-Chocolate Pretzel Sticks
Dip pretzel sticks in peanut butter and sugar-free chocolate for the ultimate relief of those after-school sugary-salty cravings.
Homemade, air-popped popcorn (not the package-type movie popcorn) with a dash of Himalayan salt is quick, cheap, filling, and delicious. Better yet, it is great for your teeth, as it scrapes clean the enamel and the areas between your teeth. It is also extremely low in calories.
When it comes to drinks, avoid sugary drinks. While fruit juices contain some beneficial nutrients, they are also loaded with sugar, which can lead to cavities. Coffee and tea in excess can stain the teeth. Encourage your children not to always drink something sweet with meals, but instead to drink a refreshing glass of water.