I’ll be walking out the door soon, and one of the first things I’ll hear from the wee ones is “Moooom, what’s for snack?”
While I don’t believe in feeding the wee ones every time we get in the car (my parents used to give them a snack or treat every time they got in the car, and they started to expect and “need” it whether they were hungry or not – definitely not a good habit!), after school they typically need a bit of a pick me up. It’s been hours since lunch, and dinner won’t be for another few hours either.
And after school is rarely, if ever, just a relaxing do nothing time. They either have an activity or homework to get to, and their brains need a boost. I’ve figured out years ago that feeding them protein helps get them focused and steady until dinnertime, so whatever we choose, I make sure it has plenty of protein.
If we’re headed straight to an activity, I’ll cheat. I have a sunflower seed bite that has a surprising amount of protein without a lot of other icky stuff. I also have dried edamame, which is a perennial favorite. Their usual request, however, is a CLIF Bar, which also has a lot of protein and no ingredients I can’t pronounce.
If we are heading home, however, they will eat a snack at home that isn’t quite as store-bought ready. I have them make up their own trail mixes! When we head to the store, they get to choose the ingredients they want (and I have some input there). The bulk foods section is a great place to try out some new items, and also to get just as much as what you want of an ingredient.
The wee ones are then in charge of mixing up their own trail mix, so it is different all the time. They love the independence of it and that they’re in charge of the flavors. Me? I love that I know they’re eating (relatively) healthy foods and plenty of protein. So what can you put in it?
- Peanuts, walnuts, almonds, cashews – get a few kinds
- Sunflower and pumpkin seeds
- Flax seeds
- Unsweetened coconut
- Dried fruit – banana chips, cherries, papaya, strawberries, blueberries, etc. Look for ones that don’t have sugar added and are unsulfured
- Dark chocolate chips
Make sure there’s a good mix of items, at least 4 to 5 different ingredients, but focus on the healthy ones like the unsweetened coconut, the seeds, and the nuts. The fruits and chocolate are “extras” not the base!