School's out and the kids are free to roam. Your little ones are working up bigger appetites than ever as they spend the long summer days bustling around outside, playing freeze tag with friends in the neighborhood and tending to endless rounds of Marco-Polo in the pool.
It's mid-afternoon now, just a few hours past lunch, and it's quiet… too quiet. You know this won't last for long.
Suddenly, the backdoor swings open, and you already know what's coming. The usual crowd of tots comes barreling into the kitchen from the backyard. "Mooooom!! Daaaaad! We're staarrrving!"
Go time. The pressure is on as the troop of tikes buzzes and bounces around your workspace, but a seasoned parent, you're made for this. You shift gears and begin maneuvering through the kitchen: first the fridge, then advancing toward the cupboard.
That's odd. You find the shelves wiped clean of fruit snacks and animal crackers. But that's okay; you always have a backup plan. You reach for the tried-and-true family-sized pack of granola bars only to find your hand brushing the bare bottom of the cardboard box. Your eyes dart around and scour over the suddenly deserted pantry. Didn’t you buy a fresh pack of peanut butter crackers… yesterday? And where on earth did that jug of Goldfish you just bought go already?
Stay calm, chef. Super-Food Lion is here to save your snack time with these healthy and fun twists on your usual go-tos.
Take a creative, interactive approach with those carrot and celery sticks by crafting an edible game of Jenga. Stack the sticks in rows of threes, alternating directions and expanding upwards. Other vegetables of choice like zucchinis or bell peppers can also be cut into sticks for the tower. Serve the tower with sides of almond butter, hummus, or take a healthier spin on classic ranch dressing by mixing 2 cups of Greek yogurt with ranch dip mix packet and one-half cup of milk. The vegetables used in the tower are very good sources of dietary fiber that will keep your kids feeling fuller for longer, which means less daily snack time preparation for you!
PB & J Cakes
Introduce a fun-sized version of the longtime lunch legend. Convert a normal peanut butter and jelly sandwich over to crunchy cake form! Spread rice cakes with some Vitamin E-rich almond butter. Instead of using processed, jarred jelly containing high amounts of added sugar, try mashing up berries of your choice in a small bowl using a fork. Strawberries, blueberries and blackberries are all delicious options with nutritious amounts of antioxidants and fiber. Top the rice cakes with your homemade fruit spread and serve. You can also opt for unsweetened applesauce as an alternative healthy spread.
Cheddar Building Blocks
For another hands-on snack for kids to construct, go with cheddar cheese and pretzel stick building blocks. Simply set out a tray of low-fat cheddar cheese cubes and pretzel rods, and allow the kids to design their snack strand. They'll form shapes and figures of all kinds as they stick pretzels in the calcium-packed cheese cubes. Maximize this snack's nutritious possibilities with additional protein by including low-sodium slices of turkey breast. Calcium and protein help strengthen the bones and build muscles.
Give the kids some choices with this easy snack "buffet." Using minimal oil of your choice, pop plain popcorn kernels on the stove or use packaged unsalted and unbuttered popcorn. Line up bowls of chopped nuts, crushed up pretzels, dark chocolate chips, dried fruit, raisins, granola or any other sweet or salty topping you may think of. Then let the kids go down the line and serve up their personal popcorn creations. Popcorn is a good low-calorie source of whole grains and fiber. As long as you limit the sugary add-ons, like chocolate, this popped snack can still be a smart choice!
For more treats, tricks and snack tips, check back here on the Lion's Tale, or follow us on Twitter @FoodLionNews!