Friday, August 25, 2017

After School Snacks

By the time my kids walk through the door after school, they are nearly zombies owing to the fact that they're famished. I think they would eat just about anything at that point, and they tend to make poor choices because they are so hungry. They also eat too much and then aren't so hungry when it comes to dinner time. To keep them from consuming an entire package of licorice (yes, one child did this), I try to have healthier alternatives on hand. Each of these is a favorite and, yes, there is a pizza theme running through - what kid doesn't love pizza?

Graham crackers are a terrific source of 'hidden' whole grains. Kids don't have any idea they're better for them and topped with fruit spread and low fat cream cheese they have just the right combination of whole grain and protein to make the perfect after-school snack. They also taste just like fruit cheesecake!

Use whichever fruit spread you like and complement it with fresh fruit of the same type, or switch it up by adding a different fresh fruit to the top.

Cheesecake Snacks
Hands-On Time: 5 minutes
Ready In: 5 minutes
Serves: 4


6 whole graham crackers - split in half (Try Annie's Homegrown, or Back to Nature brands)
4 ounces low fat cream cheese
1/4 cup strawberry or other all-fruit spread (this is the stuff without sugar added)
sliced fresh fruit - optional


1. Combine cream cheese and fruit spread and stir until smooth.
2. Spread on graham cracker halves and top with fresh sliced fruit if desired.
3. Refrigerate for up to 1 hour, lightly covered.

An old snack standby in our house is packets of cheese and crackers. The kids love them but they can get expensive and there are usually too many preservatives for my liking. Making my own is not only economical, but healthier as I can control the fat content and the amount of preservative the kids are getting. Whip up the cheese ahead of  time and spread it for the kids or let them do it themselves with a safe knife.

Cheese and Cracker Snacks
Hands-On Time: 20 minutes
Ready In: 20 minutes
Serves: 8


4 ounces low fat or fat free cream cheese
1 cup low fat cheddar cheese - shredded (Shred your own! The pre-shredded stuff has fillers.)
1 Tablespoon milk
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon paprika
96 snack crackers 1 1/2 to 2 inches in size


1. Combine cream cheese and cheddar in a blender with milk and pulse until very smooth.
2. Stir in salt and paprika to taste.
3. Spread evenly on 48 of the crackers. Top with remaining crackers and push down
4. Serve immediately or store cheese covered in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.

Little nuggets of energy never tasted so good! Change the add-ins to anything you'd like in the same amounts listed and customize to your liking. You can also roll these in coconut for extra texture.

PB Energy Balls
Hands-On Time: 10 minutes
Ready In: 1 hour 10 minutes
Yield: 24


1/2 cup peanut butter
1/3 cup honey
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 cup old-fashioned rolled oats
1 cup crisp rice cereal
1/4 cup sunflower seeds or chopped nuts
1/4 cup chopped dried cranberries or mini chocolate chips


1. Blend together peanut butter, honey, vanilla extract and ground cinnamon until smooth.
2. Pour in oats, rice cereal, seeds and cranberries and mix until coated well.
3. Refrigerate for 1 hour and roll into one-inch balls.
4. Put into an airtight container and refrigerate for up to 2 weeks.

Kids love pizza, and these crackers are a great mini-version for after school snacks. Add whatever toppings you like, broil for a few minutes and you're good to go!

Pizza Crackers
Hands-On Time: 5 minutes
Ready In: 9 minutes
Yield: 24 crackers


24 crackers, about 1 1/2 inches in size
1 cup marinara sauce
1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
1 cup toppings such as, olives, broccoli, peppers, ham, pepperoni, sausage etc.


1. Preheat broiler and lay crackers on a baking sheet.
2. Top each cracker with sauce, cheese and desired toppings.
3. Broil 3-4 minutes or until cheese melts.

Pita Pizza Pockets
Hands-On Time: 5 minutes
Ready In: 6 minutes
Serves: 4-8


4 whole wheat pitas
2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
1 cup pizza sauce
2 ounces sliced pepperoni


1. Cut pitas in half crosswise, making 2 pockets each.
2. Fill each pita half with 2 Tablespoons pizza sauce, 1/4 cup mozzarella and several
slices pepperoni.
3. Microwave for 30 to 60 seconds for 2 halves, checking after the first 30 seconds.
4. Cool briefly if necessary and serve.

No comments: