Let’s face it. When our kids get home from school, they are hungry. But snacking isn’t a bad thing if you provide healthy options that will help satisfy a snack-attack, and at the same time not ruin the appetite for dinner.
To help explore some healthy snack guidelines and options available, I have asked Lisa Bradley, our Child and Adult Care Food Program Coordinator, to share some resources.
Have a Great Week!
It is hard to believe that the school buses are already running, and our school-agers have begun a new year. We hope that they all have a great start to the year and are excited about their new adventures. One thing that we can be sure of is that they will be ready for an afterschool snack when they get home.
When we plan afternoon snacks, we are providing the children with a chance to refuel between lunch and supper. Our serving choices are important. We have the chance to rethink the afternoon snack. Don’t get me wrong — I did like, do like and will always like cookies and milk after a hard day in class, but I do know that I can make better choices. One of those choices is water. Our bodies need water to maintain good health. If we start by knowing we are making water the snack beverage, then we can look at the food choices that we make. Looking at snacks as mini meals is a great way to make nutritious balanced choices. We can consciously avoid dessert-type foods and serve in their places fruits or vegetables and lean proteins. Summer and early fall make local produce easy to find and affordable to purchase. Occasionally adding a whole grain in the place of the fruit/veggie or protein gives you many options. Some great, kid friendly ideas include green, red and yellow bell pepper strips and string cheese; whole wheat pita bread and peanut butter; romaine or iceberg lettuce wraps with chicken; and hummus with whole grain corn chips. All of these snacks will fill them up just enough to keep going but still have room for a great supper, and all of them can be served with water to drink. Making snack time fun and a time to relax and share how their days went can let children “shift gears.”
Letting our school agers help plan our menus gives them a bit of independence and get them thinking about what foods may taste good together. It also is a teachable moment when we can give them some guidance on healthy choices, serving sizes and seasonal fruits and veggies.
Snack time should be fun. After deciding what you are serving, look at how to serve it. People eat with their eyes first. Making snacks that are not only tasty, but look fun adds to the experience we are trying to create and can start great conversations and healthy lifelong habits.
Lisa Bradley is the Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP) Coordinator for ECA. She works across ECA’s 10-county service area, providing nutrition information and training while monitoring Program compliance. Lisa, who has a degree in culinary arts, has also worked as the Food Quality Controller at ECA’s Learning Center-Beacon Street.
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