Beyond the Textbook
It seems as if our children only eat convenient foods – those that are quickly prepared but very unhealthy. Ramen Noodles, Hot Pockets, Flamin’ Hot Cheetos and McDonald’s cheeseburgers; the so-called snacks children eat to satisfy their after-school hunger. The National Association of Children’s Hospitals and Related Institutions reported that nearly one-third of U.S. children ages 4 to 9 eat fast foods every day. Yet, these foods are high in fat, sodium, and calories.

Children are not feeding themselves. Many parents are guilty of feeding their children high-calorie, low-nutrition prepackaged foods and fostering the unhealthy eating habits that their children carry into adulthood. Due to time-demanding jobs and household responsibilities, parents often find it difficult to serve healthy snacks. It’s even more difficult for latch-key kids (children who come home to an empty place due to working parents) to create healthy snacks for themselves. Many parents rely on microwave meals to sustain their children until dinner. But most processed and prepackaged foods are loaded with empty calories that lack essential nutrients children need. There is no wonder that the percentage of obese children aged 6 to 11 has tripled over the past three decades, according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention.

Here are some wholesome recipes that can be prepared in 10 minutes or less. Use them to not only satisfy your child’s hunger, but help maintain a healthy lifestyle.

Ants on a Log

This tasty treat takes little preparation. You need two celery stalks, one-quarter cup of peanut butter and one tablespoon of raisins. Wash and then cut the stalks in half width-wise. Then fill the cavity of each stalk with peanut butter. Finally, let your child place raisins on top of the peanut butter filling, as if they were ants on log. Although the snack looks like its name, it tastes delicious.

A bag of cereal

When your child is looking for a quick and tasty treat, mix a few of their favorite healthy cereals together in a re-sealable bag. Scoop a tablespoon of Kix, Cheerios, Corn Flakes and Wheat Chex into a sandwich bag. Close and shake until all is mixed well. Have your child open the bag and enjoy.

Cheese and apples

This snack was one of my favorites as a child, and still is today. All you need is one apple and eight thinly-sliced pieces of cheddar cheese. Have your child wash and then slice an apple along its core into eighths. On top of each apple slice, have your child add a slice of cheese. This easy-to-make treat will be sure to satiate your child’s hunger until dinner.

Healthy nachos

Healthy nachos are an alternative to the melted cheese, jalapeño, and ground beef-drenched nachos from candy stores and movie theaters. For healthy nachos, select a bag of low-sodium nachos and a jar of chunky mild salsa. Nacho chips that are unsalted or low sodium are best. Have your child pour about 10 nacho chips in a bowl and then pour a cup of salsa into a small dish. After school, have your child will relish this simple treat…dip after dip.

Banana sandwich

For this healthy snack, you need one small banana, two slices of bread, and 2 tablespoons of peanut butter. Spread peanut butter on one slice of bread. Then have your child peel and slice the banana into thin slices. Place the slices over the peanut buttery bread, then place the other slice of bread on top. Your child will enjoy this naturally-sweet treat, and get a protein and potassium packed snack in the process.

Baked potato with cheese

If it’s a warm treat that your child desires, keep a bag of potatoes and shredded cheese on hand. Microwave a medium-sized potato for approximately six minutes. Before taking the potato out of the microwave, check its tenderness with a fork. Once tender, slice the potato down the middle and sprinkle a tablespoon of shredded cheese in the opening. For a full dairy blast, have your child top it off with a tablespoon of low-fat sour cream.