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How to nail the perfect after school snack

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Posted on March 05 2020

How to nail the perfect after school snack

Schools back, which means so are the ravenous trips to the pantry when the kids get home. Although a bag of chips or handful of salty flavoured crackers might be your child’s snack of choice, they’re not the best options with good health in mind – nor are they very satisfying. So, what makes for a healthy after school snack that’s nutritious and hits the spot? You’re looking for at least one of the following...

1. Protein

Protein is essential for muscle maintenance, growth and repair – and kids need a lot of it. An added perk is that protein is super satisfying, so a high-protein snack will keep hunger pangs at bay far longer than a low-protein snack would. High-protein snacks include:

  • One or two hard-boiled eggs. A great option to prep at the start of the week so the kids can simply grab and go.
  • A small tub of yoghurt or a glass of milk. Opt for plain cow’s milk products and add sweetness with fresh fruit if desired.
  • A handful of raw, unsalted nuts. Given most schools are nut-free, the after-school snack is an excellent opportunity to get a dose of these health-giving morsels.
  • A tin of tuna. For a dose of heart-healthy fats, tuna is a good option, especially if your littlies don’t like the taste of other seafood.
  • Roasted chickpeas. You can either make them yourself or buy them in pre-portioned packets. Your kids won’t even realise they’re eating veggies!

2. Low-GI carbs

When it comes to carbs, there are two different types: good quality, unprocessed carbs (more on that in a sec), and highly refined carbs (think: lollies, biscuits and soft drink). While the former helps to balance blood sugars and keeps you feeling satisfied, the latter leads to a blood sugar spike and you’ll feel hungry soon after. Some healthier carb options are:

  • A slice of wholegrain toast. Hold the butter – more nutritious toppings include avocado, cheese or natural peanut butter.
  • A healthy muesli bar. Yes, they do exist! Opt for a bar that’s low in sugar (read: less than 10 grams of sugar per 100 grams) and high in fibre (at least 3 grams per serve).
  • A piece of fresh fruit. A great way to tame your little one’s sweet tooth without the added sugar. Buy what’s in season and mix it up throughout the year.
  • A small tub of yoghurt or a glass of milk. Yep, dairy contains both protein and carbs. Plus, it’s rich in calcium to support those growing bones.
  • A small tin of baked beans. Quick, easy and fuss-free, what more could you want in an after-school snack? Make sure you buy a reduced-salt version to keep your child’s sodium intake low.

3. Fibre

Most people know that fibre is good for gut health, but it also slows down digestion, which gives it a fullness factor. For a fibre boost, your main options are wholegrains, fruit and vegetables:

  • A packet of roasted chickpeas. Are you sensing a theme here? Legumes (read: beans, chickpeas and lentils) are super nutritious, and meet all three criteria for a healthy snack.
  • A handful of nuts. Ditto. Nuts are an excellent source of protein and fibre.
  • Veggie sticks and a healthy dip. Crunchy veggie sticks with something like hummus or tzatziki is a crowd-pleaser.
  • A cup of popcorn. One the kids are sure to love, popcorn is a great option that counts towards your little one’s daily wholegrain target (but skip the salt and butter!).
  • A handful of wholegrain crackers. Think: Vita-Wheats or brown rice crackers. Pair them with a healthy dip, cheese or mashed avocado.

Melissa Meier is a Sydney-based Accredited Practising Dietitian. You can connect with her at www.honestnutrition.com.au or on Instagram @honest_nutrition.

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