Curb the After School Snack Attack

Most kids get home from school with one thing in mind: chowing down. Some, even, graze straight through to dinner, setting up the potential for what we all dread: a long and arduous family mealtime.

Rest assured, parents, that grazing doesn’t have to spoil dinner, especially when it involves healthy snacks like bananas, apple sauce, nuts, and yogurt. The calorie load on all of these is comparatively small (half a cup of apple sauce packs in 90 calories), while the vitamins and nutrients are substantial.

When energy dips mid-afternoon (a common occurrence that plagues kids and adults alike), loading up on high-sugar foods only makes the slump worse, and can lead to a serious bout of crankiness, accompanied by a real crash, which no one wants coming to the dinner table.

What causes the slump? Studies show it’s natural — and stems from a regular drop in body temperature after lunch that prompts us to slow down. But it can come from other things, too: a dip (or rise) in blood sugar level, sitting for long periods, not getting enough protein, and not drinking enough water. Whatever the cause, it does a kid’s body good to fill it with brain-fueling, energy-boosting foods, instead of high-carb, processed foods like many cookies and cereals. And when it comes to packing in a nutritious, energizing punch, you just can’t beat foods like fruit and nuts.

So as your little (or big) ones come off the school bus and run to the house to raid your fridge, keep these healthy options on hand to feed the monster in their belly and help them stay alert and strong through dinner.

  • Apple Sauce Smoothie
    Fun to say and even more fun to slurp, apple sauce smoothies make a great afternoon snack. Just add a cup of plain or vanilla yogurt in a blender. Then stir in a cup of apple sauce, add a dash of cinnamon, and top it off with a handful of ice. Blend until all ice is crushed – and a frothy, scrumptious smoothie remains. (For a slight twist that involves maple syrup (yum!), visit our Healthy Recipes page.)
  • Fall Popsicles
    Who says popsicles are just for summer? Pour your favorite flavor of apple sauce in popsicle molds (or even muffin tins). Cover them with foil and pop a stick in the middle. Then freeze them for two hours or so, and serve up a yummy treat. For a twist, mix in slices of your kids’ favorite fruit, nuts, or even spices to your apple sauce before you freeze it. Or have them doctor it up and experiment themselves.
  • Saucy Granola
    Layered snacks not only look great, they taste great, too. Grab a parfait glass and add a scoop of apple sauce in the bottom, followed by a spoonful of granola. Next put a touch of honey and your favorite spices (cinnamon and nutmeg taste great), then a little vanilla yogurt. Start again with the apple sauce, keep going until you reach the top – and savor every bite of this snack with real flair.

Have a good apple sauce snack of your own to share? We’d love to hear about it. Post it on the Musselman’s Apple Sauce Facebook page, and be sure to “like” our page, too. For every “like” we receive through December 9, 2013, Musselman’s will donate $1 to the National Breast Cancer Foundation. Tell your friends!