JJ Virgin: Contrary to popular belief, you don't need to snack every few hours to keep your metabolism going. In fact, this method can actually make you fat, because it prevents your body from tapping into stored fat for fuel. However, there are days when the kids get home from school ravenously hungry and you need to feed them something -- and fast -- before they erupt into a tantrum or run to a friend's house for an unhealthy snack.
Here are five after-school snacks that fit a healthful lifestyle:
1) Fruit Kabobs with Greek Yogurt
Alternate fresh berries, grapes and other fruits on a wooden stick (consider using Popsicle sticks for younger children). Offer Greek yogurt on the side as a dipping sauce. There's something about food on a stick that makes it much more fun!
2) Veggie Pita Pizza
Start with a whole-wheat pita. Top it with goat cheese and sliced veggies, then bake it for a few minutes in the toaster oven. You can arrange the veggies in the shape of a smiley face, or get the kids involved and have them create their own pita pizzas.
3) Celery Sticks Filled with Almond Butter
Celery and almond butter is a delicious combination of crunchiness and salty protein. Stick a few raisins in the almond butter to create "ants on a log."
4) Cucumber "Chips" and Hummus
Thinly sliced cucumber coins have the appealing crunch of chips without all the sodium and saturated fat, while hummus has heart-healthy fat and a delightful tangy taste. If your kids prefer salsa or baby carrots, swap in those instead.
By making healthful foods fun, you'll encourage your kids to make nutritious choices at mealtime and snack time.