When my boys come tumbling through the door after school, first backpacks hit the floor, then Operation Feeding Frenzy begins. They throw open the pantry doors, rustle through the snack bin and stare in a stupor into the refrigerator, opening and shutting it and reopening it as if what they really want will magically appear.
As a mom, I try to stock up on snacks that are healthy and convenient. Here are 21 easy options I've found that can satisfy and re-energize kids — without ruining dinner.
1. Frozen fruit skewers. Thread grapes, berries, and/or cubes of melon on a wooden skewer and freeze.
2. Hummus and veggies. For a snack that's loaded with protein and fiber, pair sweet red or yellow bell peppers, cucumber, carrots, sugar snap peas, or broccoli with hummus, which is made from pureed chickpeas (a.k.a. garbanzo beans).
3. Popcorn in a paper bag. Pour 1/4 cup of popcorn in a lunch size paper bag. Fold the top over twice. Microwave for the amount of time you'd normally pop a bag of microwave popcorn, pulling the bag out when there's 2 to 3 seconds between pops. Season to taste.
4. Trail mix. Mix together roasted unsalted nuts (like walnuts, pistachios, almonds), sunflower or pumpkin seeds, and dried fruit (like raisins, dried cranberries) or crunchy banana chips. Add mini chocolate chips for a hint of sweetness.
5. Ham and cheese roll-ups. Sprinkle shaved deli ham and shredded cheese on a whole wheat flour tortilla. Roll it up and microwave for 25 to 30 seconds or until the cheese is melted. Slice into rounds.
6. Yogurt parfait. Combine low-fat Greek yogurt with fresh or frozen berries and granola.
7. Peanut butter energy balls. A combination of peanut butter and oats rolled into a satisfying treat.
8. Ants on a log. Kids love this classic snack. Sprinkle raisins or dried cranberries on top of peanut butter-coated celery.
9. Turkey pinwheels. Loaded with calcium and protein, layer sliced cheese, hummus, and deli turkey onto a flour tortilla, roll, and cut into pinwheels.
11. Energizing waffles. Top toasted whole-grain waffles with peanut butter, sliced bananas and honey.
12. Smoothies. Blend low-fat yogurt, frozen fruit, regular or almond milk, and orange juice. If you have leftovers, freeze in popsicle molds for a healthy frozen treat.
13. Hard boiled eggs. Serve as is or make a quick egg salad to top off multigrain crackers.
15. Roasted chickpeas. Toss rinsed and dried chickpeas (garbanzo beans) with olive oil. Roast in the oven at 400 degrees for 30 to 40 minutes. Season to taste.
16. Decadent graham crackers. Top graham crackers with Nutella and sliced strawberries.
17. Peanut butter pretzels. Dip pretzels into peanut butter and sprinkle with dried fruit.
18. Fruit and cheese kabobs. Thread cheese cubes and fruit onto pretzel sticks.
19. Fruit and dip. Cut up fruit and serve with cottage cheese or low-fat yogurt for dipping.
20. Sliced apples. Top with peanut butter or wrap in slices of ham and cheese.
21. Deli meat wraps. Spread vegetable cream cheese on a slice of deli ham. Top with sliced cucumber, baby dill pickle or a crunchy carrot. Roll up and serve.