Nutritious Snacks for Back to School

1.     Make snacks well-balanced

Healthy snacks don’t need to be boring. They don’t need to be overly complicated either. Keep it simple. A well-balanced snack (similar to a well-balanced meal) will have a protein source, a carb source and a fiber source. Some protein options include cheese, HB (hard-boiled) eggs, turkey jerky, drinkable yogurts, and nuts/seeds in trail mix. One of these proteins can be paired with a carbohydrate source like fresh, frozen or dried fruit or whole grain crackers. Cheese and crackers is one of my favorite, hearty afternoon snacks. The last piece to the puzzle is fiber. Adding a vegetable to a snack not only adds fiber, it adds crunch and can help kids feel satisfied from their snack.

2.      Make snacks fun and interactive

Simply serving fruits and vegetables of all the colors of the rainbow on a platter can make snack-time memorable and fun. Adding a dip or two can help too. Serving veggies with hummus or a Greek yogurt based dip can give your child a choice at snack-time. It also gives them a task: to dip their veggies so they don’t only have to focus on eating them. Another way to keep snack-time interactive is to make “Ants on a Log.” This artful childhood snack is crunchy, sweet, and salty, and allows your child to be creative while nourishing their body. With three simple ingredients: celery, nut butter and raisins (or other dried fruit of choice), you can easily assemble this well-loved childhood favorite.

3.     Grab and go snacks

Sometimes we are in a time crunch to get in a healthy snack fast. With sports and after school activities, preparing an elaborate snack is often times out of reach. For this reason, it can be helpful to have prepared snacks and a few packaged snacks on hand. Some homemade options include pre-cut fruits like apples and orange slices or even homemade trail mix with nuts, dried fruit and dark chocolate pieces. Having the trail mix pre-portioned and the fruit pre-cut increases the chances of your child actually eating the healthy treat you packed for them. There are also a few packaged snacks that are Dietitian-approved. These include foods with minimal ingredients as well as minimal added sugar. There are a few bars out there that are both tasty and healthy. “LaraBars” and “That’s It” bars are made of only a few whole ingredients and are packed with energy. Jerky is another easy, tasty and portable snack that kids love. “Vermont Smoke and Cure” is a local Vermont brand that makes jerky with minimal added sugar and only a few ingredients. They also use antibiotic free meat. There are a variety of flavors; my favorite is the pepperoni turkey jerky which packs in 8g protein!

For most kids who are aiming for 40-60g of protein per day, 8g as part of a snack is substantial and can leave your child feeling satisfied and energized.