After-school snacks

first_imgBy Dan RahnUniversity of GeorgiaChildren need after-school snacks. But University of Georgiaexperts say parents need to help kids make snacking the healthy,safe habit it needs to be.To supply the energy they need to stay healthy and active,children have to eat more calories and more often, said JanBaggarly, UGA Extension Service coordinator in Bibb County.Children are growing fast. And they’re usually more active thanadults.But parents need to guide children to make healthy snack choices,Baggarly said. To help them do that, keep plenty of healthysnacks on hand.A nutritious snack provides food from at least one of the FoodGuide Pyramid food groups, Baggarly said. At the same time, itisn’t too high in fat, sugar or salt.”Often, children don’t get all the nutrition they need fromeating regular meals at breakfast, lunch and dinner, so snacksbecome essential,” she said. “Making healthy snacks available forkids after school is a great way to keep their energy levels upand not spoil their dinner.”Plan aheadBut snacks should be planned for, she said. They shouldn’t justhappen.Baggarly suggests these nutritious snacks: cheese and crackers,peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, yogurt, hard-cooked eggs,cold cereal, fresh and dried fruits, raw vegetables and dips madefrom low-fat ingredients, popcorn, graham crackers and vanillawafers.You don’t have to leave cookies off the list, either. “Just makesure they’re made with low-fat ingredients,” she said.One way to reduce fat in cookies is by using applesauce in placeof shortening when making oatmeal cookies. This alteration alonecuts the fat by one-third.After-school drinks can add extra calories to a child’s diet,too. Baggarly said sugar drinks like Kool-Aid, soft drinks or”fruit drinks” are poor choices for snack time. Fruit juices madefrom real fruit (check the label) are much better.Milk is an excellent choice, too. “And today you can buy it in avariety of flavors, which helps its appeal,” she said.Food safetyParents help their kids make safe choices, too, said JudyHarrison, an Extension Service food safety specialist with theUGA College of Family and Consumer Sciences.”Moms and dads need to establish some basic kitchen rules andconsider putting them in writing,” she said. “For instance, manychildren begin to use the microwave as early as age seven. Butyou may not want your child (doing this) unsupervised.”Improper use of a microwave, she said, can cause severe burns.”Teach your children to open packages and remove lids so thatsteam escapes away from their faces,” she said, “and to use potholders or oven mitts when handling hot foods.”Harrison suggests teaching your children four simple steps tokeeping food safe: clean, separate, cook and chill. Keep counters and tables clean. Choose someplace else toplace books, book bags or anything else that might contaminatefood. Always wash hands with soap and warm, running water for atleast 20 seconds before touching food. And use clean plates andutensils. Wash fruits and vegetables with cool, running waterbefore you eat them.Keep raw foods like meats away from ready-to-eat foods.If you’re warming leftovers, make sure you reheat them to 165degrees Fahrenheit. Parents should teach their children how touse a food thermometer to check the temperature of cooked food.Put refrigerated foods back in the fridge after your snack isready. If you get the milk out, don’t leave it out. Put it back. Older children who have permission to use the microwave canprepare microwave popcorn (“but hold the butter, please,” shesaid), baked potatoes or lower-fat hot dogs. Or they can reheatleftovers.Kids deserve a little refreshment after a hard day at school,Harrison said. Just make sure it’s safely prepared and good forthem.(Dan Rahn is a news editor with the University of GeorgiaCollege of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences.)last_img