Making sure the snack kids grab is a healthy one can make a difference in how they finish the day. You want them energized and refueled until dinner, not overfull and oversugared. The best snacks to help kids perk up are fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains, and lean or low-fat protein, says Kathleen Zelman, MPH, RD, LD, WebMD's director of nutrition, who offers these tips for after-school snacking.
Cheese pizza is a kid-crowd pleaser, but not all snack versions are created equal. Zelman likes frozen pizzas such as Made in Nature Organic Three-Cheese and Whole Foods 365 Everyday Value Four Cheese, both low in saturated fats and tasty, too.
Kids love dipping. Serve up hummus with veggies or a small portion of baked tortilla or pita chips. Hummus is "super nutritious, naturally fat-free, and loaded with protein and fiber that will keep kids full until dinner," Zelman says. She likes Athenos or Cedar's for their ultra-smooth creaminess and flavor.
Chocolate and Tigers and Bears, Oh My!
There's no reason to leave cookies ‘n' milk out of the after-school snack roster. Just practice portion control to keep numbers reasonable. Do your kids love chocolate? Zelman says kids can enjoy two Back to Nature Chocolate Chunk Cookies (130 calories, 1 gram protein, and 6 grams fat, but no trans fats). She also likes Barbara's Bakery Wheat Free Oatmeal Snackimals. Made from whole oats, these updated animal-cracker minis offer whole-grain goodness without trans fats or high-fructose corn syrup.
Fruit, nut, grain, and cereal snack bars promise ready-wrapped nutrition on the run. But some are fat and sugar bombs. Read nutrition labels to ensure sugar isn't the top ingredient. Look for bars with the highest fiber and protein in flavors that have kid appeal, such as Kind Plus Peanut Butter Dark Chocolate + Protein, tasty as candy but loaded with 7 grams protein plus fiber you won't find in most candy bars. Zelman also likes Kashi GoLean's Oatmeal Raisin Cookie Chewy Protein & Fiber Bar, which tastes as good as a cookie but packs 5 grams fiber and 10 grams protein.
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