Fuel for Fun: The Benefits of Healthy, After-School Snacks
Written by Registered Dietitian, Tracy Lockwood Beckerman, MS, RDN
“Hey mom, hey dad, can I have a snack?” Sound familiar? That is likely the first question your kid asks the minute they come home from their morning or afternoon activity. With so many choices these days, it’s hard to know if you’re fulfilling their snacking habits with good-for-you and healthy snack choices. Thankfully, Kate’s Real Food Mini Snack Bars deliver on both the health and taste front, so your kids will be satisfied after a long day and perfectly held over before dinner comes around.
Snack Options that are Healthy and Kid-Friendly
When seeking your afternoon snack, simply look for a healthy fat like nut butter, a wholesome carbohydrate like gluten-free oats and some sort of exciting flavor notes, coming from dried fruit, chocolate, or honey. Kids will love anything with chocolate, right? With these staple ingredients comes a blend of protein, complex carbohydrates, and healthy fats which promises a leveled release of energy which is integral in both adults and kids alike. This steady release helps steer your child clear of sugar crashes, something that all parents are on the lookout for, especially after eating sugary and highly processed snacks.
Keeping Kids Interested and Satisfied When Choosing Snacks
The best afternoon snacks are those that your kid gets excited about and expresses their desire to munch on. With a variety of fun flavors and different colors, load up on the variety sample packs from Kate’s Real Food and let them sample a variety of flavors. That way, you can let them decide which flavors meet their fancy!
When picking out snacks at the grocery store or online, there are a few key nutritional components to seek out in a healthy after-school snack. The first is to look for a whole grain carbohydrate or complex carbohydrate as one of the snacks main ingredients. Ingredients are typically listed by weight on packaging, so if you see oats listed as the first ingredient, it means they make up the majority of the product, indicating you're good to go for a wholesome choice. Whether it be fruit, dried fruit, oats (like in Kate’s Real Food Bars) or gluten-free or gluten-full oats, you want to make sure that the kids are getting a slow drip of sustainable energy in their healthy after-school snack. That way, they can have a natural jolt of power to hang out with friends on the playground, get their homework completed, help out around the kitchen or even tidy up their room (wishful thinking).
Carbohydrates are the brain's preferred source of energy so you’ll be powering your brain with every bite you take! You don’t want to eat anything too heavy in the carbohydrate department because it has the potential to interfere with your kid’s ability to eat a balanced and wholesome meal at dinner.
The next component is to integrate healthy fats into the after school snack. Examples of healthy fats include nuts like almonds, walnuts or pistachios, tree nuts like peanut nuts, nut butters like almond or peanut butter, seeds like pumpkin, flax or chia seeds or avocado. These healthy fats provide essential vitamins to the brain, muscles and body such as vitamin A, D, E and K. With these nutrients, the body is able to perform necessary functions like heal a skinned-knee, maintain and develop strong bones, keep vision and eye health strong or even fight off a nasty bug going around your kid’s classroom.
Quick and Easy Healthy Snacks Kids Will Love
As a great snack idea for kids that happens to be incredibly healthy and tasty, you can create a snack board. Generously spread a store bought nut butter like almond or peanut butter with no added sugar onto a cutting board and allow them to dip their favorite foods, like fresh fruit such as strawberries or clementines, or dried fruits, like apricots or dates. You can also include some dark chocolate chips and it will easily become one of their favorite afterschool snack ideas. In fact, it’s one of my favorite snacks too! If you desire, simply dip your favorite Kate’s Real Food bar into the nut butter for an extra dose of protein, healthy fat, and nutrients.
If you don’t have time to create a nut butter board, there are many advantages to buying store-bought snacks. You have a ton of variety, flavor profiles, and textures to choose from. Some kids would rather have a chewy snack in their lunch box while others would prefer something crunchy. By perusing the grocery store aisles together, you can sample a variety of healthy snack options and let your kid express their opinions. Plus, there are so many easy snacks to choose from that help parents and caregivers out a ton when it comes to lunch box planning.
The cons of store-bought snacks is that you have to make sure the ingredients align with your nutrition beliefs and values so you will need to read the labels. Another tip is to always look at the expiration date of the bars. Because store bought snacks and bars are typically shelf stable, you should always double check to make sure the snack has not yet expired.
Snacks to Keep Your Child Full and Focused
The role of an after-school snack serves a hefty purpose; to provide quick nutrients and something easy to digest for your little one's tummy and to prevent them from being overly ravished at dinner time. Kate’s Real Food serves as a quick afternoon snack that can take just a few minutes to eat (especially if your kid is opting for the mini sizes), so your child can move on and focus on their next activity before dinner time. The last thing your kid wants is to miss out on their precious playtime eating their afternoon snack. That’s why you can incorporate mini bars as an easy kids snack by giving them two different choices of flavors when they get home from school, such as Oatmeal Cranberry & Almond or Lemon Coconut, and then offering a piece of fresh fruit on the side like a pear, clementine, or some raspberries. That way they can have something quick like a store bought healthy bar alongside something hydrating like fresh fruit. You can put the bar and the piece of fruit into a snack pack if they want to eat it in their playroom or outside while doing some arts and crafts.
There is a reason why kids love Kate’s Real Food as their go to healthy after school snacks. With dried fruit, chocolate chips, and nut butter, there is so much wholesome goodness in every bite. The variety of flavors is impressive, helping to expose your children to different flavors. You and your child won’t be disappointed.