Filling and Fabulous After School Snacks

Famished kids can be one rowdy bunch and there is only one way to tame them, with filling and fabulous after school snacks. These recipes will give you some quick, healthful and satisfying snacks that will get your kids through those long hours after school and before dinner.

Teeny Tiny Tortilla Pizzas

(Adapted from Perelman, Deb. 10 Super Yummy After-School Snacks, Parenting.com)

What you'll need:

  • Bag of round tortilla chips
  • Shredded cheddar cheese
  • Salsa

Lay down some foil on a tray if using a toaster oven or on a baking sheet if using the oven. Arrange the tortilla chips on the foil and dab little globs of salsa on each. Sprinkle a bit of cheddar cheese on top of the salsa so that it melts and seals the salsa to the chip. You can also let your chefs-in-training garnish their own chips with preferred toppings like beans or rice.

If using a toaster oven, bake until the cheese melts. If using a conventional oven broil the chips. This process will cook the tortilla pizzas quickly so they need to be watched with a close eye. When finished, let the kids add more toppings like guacamole or lettuce. If your little ones have more voracious appetites try using tostada shells, which are a bit bigger and have more surface space for toppings.

Easy Picking Snack

Kids love small foods they can easily pick up and combine to make their own edible creations. You can use this to your advantage when thinking about healthy after school snacks. By keeping a variety of cut up veggies on hand, some air popped popcorn or pretzels, and some healthy dips like hummus, you can let your kids come up with their own snack creations. Some popular choices for making these little DIY snacks include:

  • cut up veggies like celery, baby carrots, grape tomatoes, or some of your child's favorite raw veggies
  • cut up or small fruits like grapes, raisins, apple or orange slices, strawberries, bananas, or your child's favorite fruits
  • a handful of popcorn, pita chips, small pita triangles, or pretzels
  • light toppings like a 2 tablespoons of peanut butter, a few spoonfuls of hummus, or a few small squares of low-fat cheese

Just combine these fun textual ingredients on a plate and let your child find their favorite new flavor combinations.

Elvis' Favorite

Peanut butter and banana sandwich, the King's all-time favorite snack at any hour. Try to explain to your kids who Elvis was. When their eyes start to glaze over just feed them this tasty treat. You'll have them singing "I Can't Stop Loving You" in no time.

What you'll need:

  • Whole grain bread
  • Peanut butter
  • Honey
  • Bananas
  • Butter

Slice the banana into rounds. Butter the outside of the bread with the butter, as you would for a grilled cheese sandwich. Spread 2 tablespoons of peanut butter per slice of bread on the other side. Top with the banana slices. Drizzle some honey on top. (This wasn't part of Elvis' recipe but it tastes extra good!) In a skillet, cook at medium heat until golden brown, flipping once. Serve and enjoy.

Granola Peanut Butter Balls

(Adapted from Gale Gand and Nancy Russman, from the Food Network website)

Prep time: 10 min | Easy | Yield: 16 balls


To Buy:

  • 2 tablepoons honey
  • 4 tablepoons peanut butter
  • 2 cups granola
  • 2-4 tablepoons milk, or as needed

The kids can help out with these, no cooking required. In a large mixing bowl, stir the honey and peanut butter well. Take a spatula and use that to stir in the granola. Add only enough milk as needed to moisten everything just enough to stick together. Form the mix into balls. Chill until ready to serve.

Nutella Sandwich

(Adapted from Giada de Laurentiis' recipe on the Food Network website)

Do your kids know about Nutella? Do you? It is an Italian spread created by Pietro Ferrero during World War II. The supply of cocoa was cut for rationing and so Mr. Ferrero made up his own replacement concoction comprised of hazelnuts. Italians love this milky hazelnut spread on crusty bread paired with a glass of juice for breakfast. Luckily for us, its popularity has spread across continents and now we can serve it as a sweet substitute for peanut butter when our kids want something sweet and we want them to eat something filling and nutritious.

Prep: 5 min | Cook: 4 min

To Buy:

  • 6 slices (1/2 inch thick) ciabatta bread
  • 1/2 to 3/4 cup chocolate-hazelnut spread (such as Nutella)

Heat a grill pan over medium-high heat. Grill the sliced bread until it is toasted, about 2 minutes per side. When finished, spread the chocolate-hazelnut spread over 1 piece of the toast. Top with the second piece of toast and serve. Quick and easy!

Portion Distortion

Filling after school snacks are an important part of a healthy child's diet. However, considering the obesity epidemic rampant in America today, it is probably a good idea to discuss portion sizes. For example, a bagel from 20 years ago was 3 inches in diameter and contained about 150 calories. Today's bagels have ballooned up to 6 inches and 300 calories or more. If serving your child a bagel, only give them half.

A fast food cheeseburger from 20 years ago contained 333 calories. Today's cheeseburgers now contain about 590 calories on average. Ever wonder how those people in the 1950's could go out for cheeseburgers, shakes and fries every Friday night? It is because they were eating less than half what is served to consumers today.

Appropriate serving sizes are as follows:

  • 1 serving whole grain = 1 slice of bread or 1/2 cup rice or pasta
  • 1 serving of vegetables = 1/2 cup or 1 lightbulb
  • 1 serving of fruit = 1 cup or 1 tennis ball
  • 1 serving of dairy = 1.5-2 oz. of cheese or 2 9-volt batteries
  • 1 serving of meat = 3 oz. or a deck of cards
  • 1 serving of oils = 2 tsp. of salad dressing or 1 thumb tip