Choosing healthful after-school snacks

Staff Writer
Columbus Parent

(SPM Wire) The right foods can provide fuel for your children's bodies and minds -- and after-school snack choices can be as important as mealtime decisions.

"When you are grocery shopping, keep in mind that if a snack is in the home, your children will likely eat it. So keep healthy food in the house at all times to ensure that they will always have healthy snack options," says Catherine Kraus, a dietitian at the University of Michigan Health System.

Focus on finding snack foods that will keep kids satisfied until dinner and energized for homework and studying. And keep candy bars and other junk food out of the house.

For optimal energy and hunger satisfaction, Kraus recommends pairing protein with a high fiber carbohydrate: serve up string cheese or peanut butter with whole grain crackers or prepare a half-sandwich made with whole grain bread or pita.

Another tasty treat option is creating a homemade smoothie by blending yogurt and fruit together.

She also suggests that parents take time each day to wash and slice fresh fruits and vegetables. Remember to place the produce on the counter or at eye level in the refrigerator so it is more accessible to children.

According to Kraus, a balanced, healthy diet enables chemical messengers in the brain -- known as neurotransmitters -- to function more efficiently. This produces better concentration and memory.