Getting back to school is all about learning new routines. There’s no better time to develop healthier snacking habits.
Packaged snack foods can be an easy, convenient choice for afterschool, but often provide too many added calories and not enough nutrition. Keeping healthier snacks handy will make it easier for kids to eat well when they come home hungry.
Snacks don’t have to be complicated. A snack can be something like half a sandwich, cheese and crackers, cheese and fruit, celery and peanut butter, ready-to-eat salad or a bowl of soup. Almost anything can be a healthy snack if it is a small portion of a food that is low in added sugar, fat and salt.
Here are some basic tips for making healthy snacks an easy choice for you and your kids.
Let older kids make their own snacks by keeping healthy foods in the kitchen. Prepare snacks that include two or more food groups, such as whole wheat crackers with peanut butter.
Store sliced vegetables in the refrigerator, and serve with hummus. Prepare a green salad with veggies on the weekend, and store in the fridge for a ready-to-eat salad after school during the week. Add grated carrots, sliced peppers, radishes and celery, cherry tomatoes and other veggies that stay fresh longer.
Top half of a whole-wheat English muffin with spaghetti sauce, chopped vegetables and low-fat shredded mozzarella and melt in the microwave.
Fresh, frozen, dried or canned fruits such as applesauce, frozen grapes or raisins can be easy grab-and-go options that need little preparation. Offer whole fruit, and limit the amount of 100 percent juice served. Choose canned fruits that are lowest in added sugars.
Visit flsny.org or choosemyplate.gov for more healthy snack recipes and ideas. Look for Finger Lakes Eat Smart New York nutrition educators at farmers markets, food pantries and community events near you.