Kids might seem to have endless energy, from a parent’s perspective, but that’s an illusion. Before yours head from school to their soccer field, dojo or dance class, they’re going to need to refuel. You can make yourself the season’s Most Valuable Parent by looking past all those sugar-rich commercial snacks and whipping up one of these easy, nutritious offerings instead.
Choose a multi-grain wrap or tortilla as the wrapper for this finger-friendly treat
and lay it out on your counter. Spread the flatbread with either peanut butter or softened cream cheese, if your kids’ activities are held in nut-free facilities. Mixing a drizzle of honey into your spread
Peel one to two bananas and lay them across the wrap from one side to the other, pressing down to flatten the curved fruit into a cylinder. Sprinkle the rest of the wrap with a mixture of chopped nuts, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, fresh berries or dried fruit. Leave a small border of about 1/4 inch at the edge, with no toppings covering your sticky spread.
Roll up the wrap around the banana, making a roll with the banana in the middle and layers of tasty seeds and fruit surrounding it. The border of plain spread will “glue” the edge you roll, sealing it. Cut the fat roll into sushi-like slices about 1/2-inch thick, and then moisten the cut surfaces of the banana with lemonade or diluted lemon juice to prevent browning.
Pack the energy-filled snacks in a sealable container, like these printed snack bags, to keep them from getting squashed, and pop them into a snack bag for your size-small athlete.
Hitting the Trail
A well-made trail mix is a fun, kid-friendly snack and couldn’t possibly be any easier to make. All you need is a good selection of healthy ingredients and a few minutes of your time to toss them together.
Active kids need lots of healthy carbohydrates to fuel their growing bodies, so that should be the base of your mixture. Whole-grain pretzel sticks and breakfast cereals are good choices. So are crisp banana chips from the bulk-food store. Air-popped popcorn, another good option, is a whole-grain food that you won’t see in commercial trail mixes.
Round out your trail mix with some protein and unsaturated fats in the form of nuts and sunflower or pumpkin seeds. Your kids need those, too, though the carbs are more important. Add a fistful of raisins, dried cranberries, apple-ring pieces or other dried fruit as a virtuous sweetener, and then toss the mixture and package in an airtight bag or container to go into your youngster’s lunchbox.
Raising the Bar
The ultimate pre-activity snack is an energy bar, and you can make your own for pennies apiece from ingredients such as oatmeal and peanut butter that you probably already have in your cupboard. Recipes vary widely, but if you assume 4 cups of dry ingredients as your base, and 2 1/2 to 3 cups of wet or sticky ingredients to hold them together, your bars should work out just fine.
The heart of your bar is energy-rich dry ingredients such as rolled oats, shredded coconut, sunflower seeds, raisins, chopped dates, dried cranberries, sesame seeds or anything else your budding athlete likes. Toss them together in a mixing bowl with a pinch of salt and cinnamon or other spices for flavor.
Unsweetened applesauce, mashed ripe bananas and other fruit purees sweeten your bars and help hold them together, so you can skip conventional sweeteners. Mix 1 1/2 to 2 cups of fruit into your dry ingredients until they’re well moistened, then add up to a cup of peanut butter or other nut butter as needed to hold it all together and add protein. Pack the mixture into a brownie pan or rectangular cake pan lined with parchment, and bake them in a low oven for a half-hour until they’re set.
Once the pan has cooled completely, cut your bars into 24 or more pieces and wrap them individually. One bar before soccer or gymnastics and a bottle of water for hydration keeps your budding athlete fully fueled until dinnertime. A personalized water bottle is best because it minimizes the likelihood of lost bottles and mix-ups at the sideline. A nametag on the ol’ lunchbox is a good idea, too.
On Your Marks, Get Set…
You can never have too many easy, healthful, kid-friendly snacks in your repertoire. And Mom’s definitely know what works best for their little ones. Share your best snack-time innovations that work for you and your kids.