My favorites were Saltine crackers with a piece of torn bologna on top, Ovaltine and milk in my favorite Howdy Doody glass or Kool-Aid popsicles made-ahead together. But that was long before nutritionists deemed most of these things as not very nutritious. Back then, they managed to provide that extra spurt of energy (read: sugar) to fuel riding my bike, jumping hopscotch or playing jacks.
My own children, raised as vegetarians, bemoaned many of the healthy (and not always flavorful) snacks I made them. However, their favorite after-school snack was "Ants on a Log," not just because it tasted so good but because they got to make it themselves. Even now, the snack is popular among children and grandchildren for those very reasons. And, by any measure, it is as nutritious as a snack can be.
It's that time of year again- to fill your refrigerator with foods that will satisfy your kids' needs for energy-boosters during that super-busy time between school and dinner while satisfying your desire for them to eat healthy.
This year, consider the list of "super foods" that pack a nutritional wallop and provide essential elements in healthy diets to create their after-school snacks. "Super foods" are nutritionally dense; that is, they contain more nutrients per calorie than other foods. Also, they have been proven to contain vitamins, minerals and other nutrients that prevent disease. For example, vitamin-C-filled fruits like oranges, avocado's brain-building essential fatty acids, the anti-oxidants of blueberries, sour cream's probiotic cultures, nuts and seeds for their "good" MUFA's (monounsaturated fatty acids), etc. A diet incorporating a variety of "super foods" will help your children have more energy, maintain their weight, fight disease and live healthier.
Individual super foods have unique health benefits so read more about them if you want to target certain areas. However, they all have one thing in common: Every super food is going to be an unprocessed food. Go over a list of super foods (see box) with your child to select his/her favorites. Then go find snack recipes using those nutritious foods, maybe some of which your children can make themselves. That's what I call a Win-Win! Go, Snack Team!
Jacqui Love Marshall lives in San Ramon with her pug, Nina Simone, and volumes of cookbooks and recipes. Her column runs every other week. E-mail her at firstname.lastname@example.org.