Children get home from school and they are hungry. The day was packed full of learning energy zapping activities and they need to refuel. When I got off the bus after school I remember eating chips, cookies, drinking soda and complaining if these items weren’t around.

Sorry mom and dad, I just made you look really bad.

I would eat these junk food snacks and then at dinner not be hungry. I filled up on sugar, carbohydrates and fat. Nothing that helped to refuel me and tide me over until I could have a well balanced nutritious meal. Just as it is important for our children to be fed healthy meals they need healthy snacks. It is known that what we eat plays a role in our brain function, our weight and overall how we feel. Health Guidance has a great article describing nutrition and brain function that all parents might want to consider reading. The article isn’t focused on children but the article still applies, especially the behavior part! Many children have behavior issues in the evening from fatigue, stress and probably nutrition issues. I’m finding this to be true in my own household.

If my son is well hydrated, has snacks high in protein and low in sugar, his behavior tends to be better. Mind you, I’m learning and monitoring this very closely because we are having some major behavior issues but I’m guessing this a combination of nutrition, sleep issues and parenting follow through.

I did not make myself look very good there but I’m being honest.

To help yourself and your child here are some great after school or anytime snacks to help refuel your child verses filling them with fat and sugar. They are light enough to not make them to full for meal time and this is very important. Our children must eat well balanced meals. However, not all children are the same and many children eat many small meals throughout the day. I’m no expert but I think it is the total amount of nutrition daily that is probably most important and honoring your child’s uniqueness and taste buds!

1. Trail Mix is a family favorite in my home. I can combine left over breakfast cereal, sunflower seeds, pistachios, dried cherries, almond slices, mini choc. chips (a little sweetness), dried cranberries and pretzels. You can make any combination of foods that your child likes and keep it in a air tight container. My kids love munching on this and helping to pick items they like. Sometimes it is raisins or a new nut or dried fruit. We like to have fun with this. It’s a treat but also nutritious if we limit the mini choc. chips!

2. Frozen grape kabobs or fruit kabobs. It just makes fruit more fun and appealing. Kids love eating frozen fruits for a treat and you know it’s good for them. Better yet, involve the children!

3. Fresh veggies cut up with some dip. When children are used to having vegetables served to them they become accustom to eating them. Try different dips and have your kids pick out the vegetables they might like to try. My kids like to have veggies, crackers and cheese for a snack.

4. Frozen yogurt is a refreshing, nutritious and satisfying snack. Even try a smoothie if your child says they are starving and needs a larger snack.

5. Super hero peanut butter protein balls, something my son loves! Here’s the recipe:

1 cup of natural peanut butter

1/2 cup of soy protein powder, cocoa flavor

1/4 cup of organic honey

1/2 cup of finely crushed granola

Mix together and roll into balls. Roll into coconut or crushed nuts if desired. Store in refrigerator.

Another great tip is to offer lots of water to rehydrate your child. I’m an advocate for children having water bottles at school to stay hydrated but many schools don’t allow this. Children need water frequently throughout the day, we all do. Help replenish your child by letting them drink as much water as they would like. You can also get many quick and healthy snacks from the Green and Clean Mom store and from Yum Yum Snacks. Keeping the junk out of your home but still allowing treats in moderation is important. Have a great school year!

Why not? Great tips for free!

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