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Want your kids to snack healthy? Get creative

Angie Hyche, Community Contributor • Aug 30, 2017 at 10:30 AM

Now that school is back in session for most children in our area, the relaxed summer schedule has completely changed. That often includes changes in our meal and snack times and choices. After a flurry of activity and a (hopefully) healthy breakfast, children are shuttled off to a full day of learning. When they return, the vast majority of them are quite hungry. We’d like to offer them a healthy snack, but we don’t want it to be so filling that they won’t eat their dinner a few hours later. Also, healthy snacks might not be their favorites, so we want them to be tasty and visually appealing.

When my children were young, it didn’t take me long to realize that the more “fun” something is, the more likely children are to participate in it. This includes food choices. As the popular saying goes, “It’s all in the presentation.” One of my favorite examples of this for my family was leftover night. If I had cooked a lot during the week, by the end of the week, we had a large variety of leftovers. But leftovers aren’t very fun. No one gets excited about eating the same thing they’ve been eating all week. However, with a few quick tweaks, I could increase the odds of my children eating them. I remember serving small portions of several leftovers in a muffin pan instead of on a plate. Or having an impromptu picnic in the yard on a blanket. Also, it is pretty easy to turn those leftovers into a different type of meal. For example, leftover vegetable side dishes can be combined with pasta and a sauce or put into a soup. Small changes like this can make a big difference.

Here are a few creative and healthy snack ideas that you could serve to your children after school. I gathered these from my own experience, my friends and some internet searching. I hope you find them helpful.

• Rice Krispie treats with cranberries, raisins, and chopped banana chips

• Fruit and veggie characters (people or animals made from pieces of fruits or vegetables)

• Cheese cubes and crackers

• Peanut butter and crackers

• Granola mix

• Trail mix

• Yogurt parfaits

• Fruit kabobs

• Fruit and/or juice popsicles

• Smoothies

• Kale chips

• Peanut butter and jelly sandwiches or roll-ups (using a tortilla)

• Grilled cheese sandwich

• Veggies and hummus

• Frozen grapes

A quick search on Pinterest or Google will give you plenty more ideas. Most of these can be made in advance so that they will be ready when your child gets home from school. If you’re lucky, they’ll be so hungry that they won’t even notice that the snacks are healthy. And if you’re really lucky, they’ll give you lots of details about their school day. Here’s hoping this is your family’s best school year ever!

Kingsport’s Angie Hyche is a community columnist for the Kingsport Times-News.

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