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Healthy After-School Snacks

After a long day at school, there is nothing better than getting home and enjoying a good snack. Not only do after-school snacks taste satisfying, but they can also keep blood sugar levels stable until dinnertime. This prevents crankiness and allows kids to focus on homework or extracurricular activities.

Importance of After-School Snacks

Stabilization of blood sugar is one of the most important functions of the after school snack. The body relies on glucose to provide energy for cells. Eating foods rich in carbohydrates provides the body with a readily digestible source of glucose. After eating these foods, blood sugar measurements rise. Fluctuations in blood sugar may lead to tiredness, hunger pangs, or a sick feeling (Carlson, 2015). Fortunately, a hormone called insulin typically regulates blood glucose levels to keep them within a narrow window. You can help by providing your body with small, frequent snacks or meals to prevent peaks and valleys in your blood glucose levels (American Diabetes Association, 2015).

After lunch, blood glucose levels spike. They may crash by mid-afternoon, right when many schools let kids go home for the day. Unfortunately, many school-aged children do not have access to a mid-afternoon snack while at school. Snacking is particularly useful for kids who are engaged in sports or extracurricular activities after school. Eating a healthy snack stabilizes blood sugar, preventing concentration difficulties or fatigue that can affect performance (Massachusetts Institute of Technology, 2014).

Components of a Healthy After-School Snack

The perfect after-school snack contains a blend of protein, carbohydrates, and healthy fats. Protein and carbohydrates provide an energy boost that helps kids maintain their momentum. For example, celery smeared generously with peanut butter and topped with raisins (“ants on a log”) is a healthy and nutritious snack. Fruit kabobs, whole-wheat crackers with a few slices of cheese, peanut butter on whole-wheat toast, a piece of fruit, or pita wedges with two tablespoons of hummus are other great snack ideas (Gavin, 2015).

Keep in mind that younger kids may not have the skills to prepare their own nutritious snack, while older kids may be too lazy to create a time-intensive treat. To cut back on your own prep time, purchase groceries that make snack time easy. A handful of nuts and dried fruits requires no prep at all. Alternatively, cutting and tossing together fresh fruit at the beginning of the week creates several days’ worth of fruit salad that serves as a nutritious snack.

Avoiding Spoiling Your Child’s Appetite for Dinner

Many parents worry that eating an after-school snack will spoil their child’s appetite for dinner. To prevent this problem, keep snacks to 100 to 150 calories. This is enough to stabilize blood sugar and give your child the fuel needed to last until dinner time without spoiling his or her appetite (Health Care Corporate Health Services, 2014).

After School Snack Recipes

Create compelling snacks to entice your children to eat healthy with these delectable, nutritionally balanced collations.

Pumpkin Chia Seed Pudding

Pumpkin Chia Seed Pudding Recipe

This palatable pudding provides a light snack that is packed with the nutrients a growing child or busy teen needs to stay healthy. The recipe takes only ten minutes to make and the cups can be stored in the fridge for an idyllic after-school snack.
Ingredients: Milk, pumpkin puree, chia seeds, maple syrup, pumpkin spice, sunflower seeds, sliced almonds, fresh blueberries.
Total Time: 10 minutes | Yield: 4 188-gram servings

Blueberry Chia Jam Bars {gluten-free, vegan}

Blueberry Chia Jam Bars Recipe {gluten-free, vegan}

A crumbly confection that combines two divergent textures that complement one another brilliantly, the berries in the jam topping and the almonds and oats in the base offer a nutritious snack that won’t spoil supper.
Ingredients: Raw almonds, gluten-free rolled oats, chia seeds, maple syrup, water, vanilla or almond extract, blueberries, cacao powder, coconut oil.
Total Time: 30 minutes | Yield: 16 mini bars

Banana Bread {gluten-free}

Banana Bread Recipe {gluten-free}

For a straightforward snack that features a full flavor, this banana bread recipe delivers a blend of naturally sweet savors in a healthsome package. The bread also contains nuts to add a crunch that delights with every bite.
Ingredients: Overripe bananas, eggs, coconut oil, applesauce, almond milk, honey, vanilla extract, brown rice flour, coconut flour, walnuts, gluten-free rolled oats, baking soda, baking powder.
Total Time: 1 hour | Yield: 12 80-gram servings

Spirulina Smoothie

Spirulina Smoothie Recipe

This spirunlina smoothie supplies a potent palate to curb cravings with a wholesome blend of ingredients that are sure to satisfy both the nutritional needs and the flavor preferences of your starving student.
Ingredients: Spirulina, banana, fresh spinach, apple juice, crushed ice, lemon juice.
Total Time: 2 minutes | Yield: 2 smoothies

No-Bake Cheesecake Bites {gluten-free}

No-Bake Cheesecake Bites Recipe {gluten-free}

For children with a sweet tooth, finding a snack that fits nutritional needs can be a difficult endeavor. Our palatable pumpkin cheesecake bites include a modest offering of protein and keep the calorie count in check, as long as your child sticks to one serving!
Ingredients: Pitted dates, almond flour, cacao powder, vanilla extract, almond milk, raw cashews, maple syrup, canned pumpkin, pumpkin spice.
Total Time: 20 minutes | Yield: 16 - 20 squares

Healthy Vegan Chocolate Truffle

Healthy Vegan Chocolate Truffle Recipe

For children that have a more difficult time with portion control, these chocolate confections can serve as an idyllic sweet snack without spoiling dinner. Although portion control is still essential, these bites have fewer calories and offer a healthy treat your child will love.
Ingredients: Jumbo Mejdool dates, almond flour, chia seeds, flaxseed meal, cacao powder, agave or maple syrup, almond milk, unsweetened shredded coconut.
Total Time: 15 minutes | Yield: 24 truffles

Healthy After-School Snacks

We can’t always be there to make fresh snacks for our children, so it’s important to keep a pantry full of options that are ready to eat as your child walks through the door. Find some of our favorite selections below!

References

American Diabetes Association (2015). Insulin. Retrieved from http://www.diabetes.org/living-with-diabetes/treatment-and-care/medication/insulin/insulin-basics.html

Carlson, S.J. (2015). Glucose levels can fluctuate for variety of reasons. Mayo Clinic. Retrieved from http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/diabetes/expert-blog/blood-sugar-fluctuation/bgp-20124504

Gavin, M. (2015). After-school snacks. Kids Health. Retrieved from http://kidshealth.org/en/parents/afterschool-snacks.html#

Health Care Corporate Health Services (2014). Examples of strategic snacks. SAS Institute, Inc. Retrieved from http://blogs.sas.com/content/efs/files/2013/03/Strategic-Snacks-w-Glucose-Zone_042012.pdf

Massachusetts Institute of Technology (2014). The influences of nutrition on productivity: how eating a healthy diet can impact your brain function, energy levels, and your mood. Retrieved from http://mitpe.mit.edu/uploads/pdfs/Nutrition%20&%20Brain%20Productivity.pdf