It’s the first day of school! My kids have been ready to go back for a month now – whether that’s do to our summer kitchen remodeling mess (now almost complete, pictures soon!) or they just wanted that routine again, it’s hard to tell. Either way, I’m glad they love school and can’t wait to go back. We’ve been working on getting organized, communicating before and after school schedules and clearing off desks in bedrooms preparing for homework. Then I remember, it’s not just my kids that need to get organized, but I need to get organized for afterschool snack times – whether they are portable for football practice or after-school dance classes or they are right out of the pantry or refrigerator at home.
If you head down the snack aisle in the grocery store, you are not likely to find a lot of protein or fruits and vegetables. There’s a new route to follow and it starts with the produce section and ends in protein. The key to afterschool snacking is to partner fill-you-up protein and energy boosting fruits or vegetables. Serve these snacks with a purpose: to fuel an afterschool activity, to boost a mid-afternoon energy drain and to boost fruit and vegetables. You don’t want snacks to interfere with the evening meal (so serve them at least two-three hours before).
Here are some ideas:
|Egg salad and crackers. Eggs are one of the best values around. Buy an extra dozen and hard boil them on Sunday, and you’ll have an easy, stick-to-the-ribs protein-filled snack anytime. Turn them into egg salad by adding chopped celery, a little light mayonnaise, mustard, salt and black pepper. Serve with crackers and crunchy cucumber slices.|
|Trail mix. Try dried pineapple with pistachios and toasted oat cereal. Or even pretzels, dried cranberries, peanuts and chocolate chips. Toss into a container and throw in the backpack with a bottle of water.
|String cheese and grapes. There’s something about string cheese and fruit that goes naturally together. I think it’s the sweet and the salty flavors. Take a bite of cheese, pop in a grape. Repeat. It’s a satisfying snack!
|Crackers and tuna. My kids love this one…whole grain crackers and tuna. I toss in a few cucumber slices or snap peas for added crunchability. And get the pouched tuna requires – no draining, no mess, just tear and dump out.|
|Nut butter and fruit. Peanut butter is portable – find it in individual cups and pack with some apple or celery slices.
Hummus and veggies. Veggie sticks like bell pepper strips, cucumber slices and carrot chips match up well with hummus, a dip primarily made of garbanzo beans – which means it’s a great source of protein.
Yogurt and fruit. Make a mini parfait with four ounces of yogurt and a ½ cup fruit. The fruit can be fresh or frozen and thawed. Blueberries, sliced strawberries or sliced bananas are just the beginning of your choices.
Tortilla roll-ups. These little guys are fully customizable. Try sliced turkey with tomato, cheese and guacamole. Or ham, lettuce and tomato. Or spinach, shredded carrots, turkey and cream cheese. You are only limited by your imagination here! And they hardly take any time to prepare, just layer the ingredients and wrap and roll!
Mini bagels and chicken salad. Cook chicken breasts on the weekend and use a couple for whipping up a quick chicken salad filled with apples, dried cranberries and walnuts. Serve on a half of a whole grain mini bagel.
Cranberry Chicken Salad
If you love chicken salad this recipe is a must try!!!
1. Place cranberries and cranberry juice in a saucepan and heat slightly. Remove from heat, cool to room temperature. Cranberries will absorb all liquid. Hold.
2. In a bowl, whisk together mayonnaise and dressing.
3. Stir in diced chicken, celery and scallions. Toss well to coat. Stir in reserved cranberries and mix well. Cover and refrigerate at least 4 hours before serving.
4. To Serve: For each serving, place 1/4 cup spinach onto flatbread roll and portion 1/2 cup salad on top of spinach. Replace top and serve.
5. Variations: Use additional fruits, including fresh mango, pineapple, melon, blueberries, peaches, pears etc. in salad.
Recipe courtesy of U.S. Cranberries.