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Thursday, August 15, 2013

The Best After-school Snacks for Kids (or anytime of the day)

It's time to toss out the junk food and start making snack time fun again! Check out these kid-friendly ingredients that make great snacks and have an easy recipe for each one.

Cheese
The protein in this kid-friendly snack keeps energy levels high until dinnertime. We like to stick salt-free pretzel sticks into cubes of low-fat cheese to make "satellite snacks," but you can also make cheese more interesting to kids by cutting it into fun shapes with a cookie cutter and making kabobs with your favorite fruit.

Smoothies
Kids go crazy over delicious sippable treats, and they're packed with nutrients. Use nonfat vanilla yogurt, 100 percent orange juice, and a banana as the smoothie's base, then experiment with a combination of cut-up fresh or frozen fruit. It's a great way to sneak two or three servings of fruit and fiber into your child's diet.

Sweet Potatoes Chips

Sweet spuds are some of the most nutritious vegetables around: They're packed with vitamin A and are good sources of B6, C, and folate. These simple, delicious chips are great alternatives to the greasy, store-bought variety.
Ingredients
2 medium sweet potatoes
2 teaspoons vegetable oil
1 teaspoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
Heat oven to 400 degrees F. Coat a baking sheet with vegetable cooking spray.Wash potatoes. Cut into thin slices, and place in large bowl. Pour oil onto the palms of your hands. Gently rub oil onto sweet-potato slices, tossing to combine. Sprinkle with sugar and cinnamon, tossing in bowl to coat evenly.Place slices in a single layer on prepared baking sheet. Bake 20 minutes. Turn chips over and bake until slightly crisp, about 5 minutes. Transfer to plate; cool 5 minutes and serve.

Snack Mix
Toss together a healthy combo of nuts, pretzels, whole grain cereal, banana chips, and popcorn for a handy, portable snack. Nuts contain must-have minerals such as magnesium, iron, and zinc. Try this kid-friendly Nutty Popcorn and Fruit Mix, or make up one of your own yummy combinations!

Quesadillas
You can mix anything with a calcium-rich cheese quesadilla: chopped vegetables, leftover cooked chicken, or even shrimp. This Bean and Cheese Quesadilla, are easy to make and fun for kids to hold. W ith the folate in the corn, the lycopene in the tomatoes, and the fiber in the beans, this snack packs a nutritional punch.Don't forget to buy a chunky veggie salsa!

Yogurt
Low-fat yogurt is an excellent source of calcium, and children love it dressed up. To add taste and nutritional value, whip up a yogurt parfait with berries and granola or make a homemade fruity yogurt pop that beats sugary store-bought frozen treats any day.
Ingredients
2 cups low-fat vanilla yogurt
1 cup assorted berries (raspberries, blueberries, blackberries, chopped strawberries)
5 pretzel rods, halved, or 10 baked snack stick crackers
In a large bowl gently stir together the yogurt and fruit. Spoon into 4-ounce ice-pop molds or 3-ounce paper cups. Cover molds or cups with foil; use a sharp knife to cut a small hole in the foil and insert cut side of pretzel rod or snack stick. Freeze until firm. Remove foil and mold or cup before serving. Store for up to a month. Makes 6 pops.

Eggs
One egg provides a 4-year-old with almost one-third of her protein requirements for the day. Keep a bunch of hard-boiled eggs in the fridge (they last for seven days), or scramble an egg and roll it up in a flour tortilla. Another great idea: our easy breakfast pita that can be made the night before for an on-the-go meal.

Whole Grain Waffles
For a fun alternative to peanut butter and jelly, try whole grain waffles for a boost of iron and vitamins B6, B12, and A. These cool, kid-approved waffle sticks topped with reduced-fat cream cheese and a fruit jelly are a refreshing change for snacktime.

Peanut Butter Pops
This versatile childhood favorite has plenty of protein and fiber. For a change, try making silly PB&J sandwiches with toasted mini waffles or rice cakes instead of bread, or try it with yogurt and raspberries in a yummy frozen treat that's super fun to eat.
Ingredients
1/2 cup smooth peanut butter
1 cup plain low-fat yogurt
1 cup reduced-fat milk
2 - 4 tablespoons honey, divided
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups raspberries
2 cups raspberry juice or raspberry juice blend
1/4 cup sesame seeds (optional)
Combine peanut butter, yogurt, milk, 2 tablespoons honey, and vanilla in a food processor or blender until smooth.Pour peanut-butter mixture into eight 6- to 7-ounce paper cups or pop molds until they're one-third full. Cover and freeze for 1 hour. Cover and chill remaining peanut-butter mixture until needed.Stir together raspberries and juice, divide among the cups or molds, and insert sticks. Cover and freeze for an hour. Then fill with remaining peanut-butter mixture and freeze for at least 8 hours, or until firm.Let stand at room temperature for about 5 minutes before unmolding. If you want, spoon honey around the rims and sprinkle on sesame seeds.

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