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Food in school and after-school snacks: What’s in, what’s out, healthful options

Five fast after-school snacks

There’s some debate over whether kids need to snack as often as they do. But kids don’t care about debates: When they get home from school, they’re ravenous and ready to eat. Here’s a week’s worth of quick and healthful snack ideas, courtesy of Marisa Moore, registered dietitian and a spokeswoman for the American Dietetic Association.

Serve any of these with low-fat milk (or low-fat chocolate milk, once in a while) or sparkling water with a citrus wedge.

1. Popcorn: Full of fiber, low in calories, nice and filling and fun to eat. Cooked on the stove top in olive oil, it’s also a source of healthful fat. Go easy on the butter and salt.

2. Apple slices and warm peanut (or almond) butter: The apple provides fiber and a bit of Vitamin C; the nut butter’s a filling protein and adds healthful fat to the mix. Make the nut butter dippable by warming it in the microwave for a few seconds.

3. Smoothie: Blend low-fat vanilla or plain yogurt (or tofu) with whatever fresh or frozen fruits you have on hand. Serve with a few whole-grain crackers.

4. Vegetables and hummus: Red-pepper strips, sliced cucumbers, carrot sticks, celery, baby tomatoes dipped in hummus.

5. Banana and pistachios: Bananas provide heart-healthy potassium. Pistachios offer fiber and healthful fats. Serve them in the shell; they’re more entertaining that way and take longer to eat.

12 o’clock and all’s wellness

Alarm about food allergies and the nation’s climbing obesity rate has prompted some schools to frown on certain foods. Here are some forbidden items, culled from documents issued by school systems across the nation, along with safer or more healthful alternatives.

OUT | IN

Peanuts, peanut butter >> Almond butter

Birthday cakes, cupcakes >> Fresh fruit

Fruity snacks/ roll-ups >> Dried fruit

Snack crackers >> Baked, whole-grain crackers

Doughnuts, store-bought muffins >> Vegetables with low fat dip or salsa

Brownies >> Graham crackers

Toaster pastries >> Low-fat popcorn

Candy >> Low-fat cheese or cottage cheese

Rice Krispies treats >> Rice cakes

Caffeinated beverages >> 100 percent juice boxes

Soda and sports drink >> Low-or non-fat milk

Pick and Chew

Packing a lunch is perhaps the best way to ensure that your child gets a good, nutritious meal in the middle of the school day. To craft a well-balanced repast, suggests Carolyn Land Williams, a registered dietitian, mother of two and co-author of Cooking Light’s new “The Ultimate Kid-Approved Cookbook” (Oxmoor House, 2011), simply mix and match items from these six major food groups.

“Get the kids involved” in putting together their lunches, Land suggests; they’ll be more likely to actually eat what’s packed.

Grains:

·Whole-grain bread, wrap or deli flat

·Whole-grain pita, either stuffed pocket-style or cut into wedges and toasted to make dippers

·Whole-grain crackers or rice cakes

·Cooked brown rice

Proteins:

·Lean deli-sliced lunch meat (turkey, ham, roast beef)

·Leftover rotisserie chicken

·Nut butters

·Hummus

·Black beans (count as vegetable and protein)

Dairy:

·Milk (skim or 1 percent)

·Low-fat chocolate milk (on occasion)

·Yogurt (look for one with less added sugar)

·Cheese slice

·Part-skim mozzarella sticks

·Individual Babybel cheese

Vegetables:

·Baby carrots

·Red-pepper strips

·Cherry tomatoes

·Cucumber slices

·Broccoli florets (can be lightly steamed)

·Black beans

·Lettuce and tomato slices

Fruit:

·Apple or orange, cut into wedges or sectioned

·Clementine

·Grapes

·Strawberries

·Blueberries

·Individually packaged unsweetened applesauce, including flavored varieties

·Rasins

Fats and Oils:

·Nuts or nut butters

·Oil-based vinaigrette dressing

·Oil-based mayonnaise (olive or canola)

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