7 easy energy-boosting after-school snacks
It's 3.30 pm. You rush to meet your beloved children at the school gate only to find they’ve metamorphosed into grumpy little horrors. Yes, it seems to happen to even the most delightful and mild-mannered! Generally just a short-term blip, the ‘magic’ production of a tasty snack from the handbag usually sorts them out; a booster to keep them going until tea-time, or to energise their after-school activity or club.
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Of course the odd pack of cheese & onion or jelly tots every now and then isn’t going to do much harm. Processed sugary and salty foods as ‘everyday treats’, however, encourage children to develop a strong taste for salt and sugar, which may not only lead to health problems in later life, but also provide only a short-lived energy boost, followed most likely by a slump in energy and, even worse, the onset of crotchetiness.
Take the Ferrari scenario. Would you put diesel into a Ferrari? Every car needs fuel; indeed, the finest cars need the finest fuel. Likewise, the more nutritious foods you provide your child, the more sustained their energy and concentration will be. What’s more, you’ll see an improvement in their mood too!
Go Faster after-school snacks: grab and go
Most parents will have experienced the effects of the ‘sugar high’ on children after eating ice cream and sweets. Bananas provide slower-release carbohydrate to keep energy levels on a more even keel. Pre-wrapped in nature’s own packaging, sweet, easily digested and loaded with nutrients including potassium, vitamin C and B6, bananas are portable and cheap. What’s more, nutrients in bananas can protect against sleeplessness, mood swings and irritability. Better pack one for yourself too then!
2. Small pack of nuts and seeds
An excellent source of heart-healthy unsaturated fats, nuts and seeds help boost immunity levels, mood, brain power and brain development. An important nutrient for healthy growth and development as well as the manufacture of important hormones, children should be getting around 30% of their daily calories from fat. Encouraging children to get these from unsaturated rather than saturated fats will stand them in good stead for the future. If they don’t like eating individual nuts, try a small peanut or almond butter sandwich on wholemeal bread instead.
3. Dried mango slices / dried apricots
Filling, sweet and tasty, dried apricots and mangoes are fabulous sources of the immune-boosting antioxidant, beta-carotene. Just a small handful will be enough for a sustaining snack as dried fruit, although a great alternative to sweets, contains much higher sugar content than regular fruit and is also high in fibre.
4. Hummus and carrot sticks
Ditch the monster munch for this tasty, garlicky mush of chickpeas, olive oil and lemon juice, loaded with protein, good fats and sustaining carbs to promote healthy growth and development. Perfect for those children who prefer savoury to sweet. Buy a pot or whizz up your own hummus in minutes (the kids will enjoy making this too); it keeps for several days in the refrigerator. A few tablespoons in a resealable pot at pick-up time with some carrot sticks or a pitta bread will go down a treat at the school gate.
Go Faster after-school snacks: prepare in advance
Tasty, nutritionally-balanced snacks don't have to be hard to prepare. These three options from Go Faster Food for Kids are the work of minutes, but will guarantee smiles at the school gates.
Home-made Energy Bars
|An excellent choice for children going straight from school to a club, these filling bars are crammed with fruit, nuts, seeds and oats to provide a great balance of carbohydrate, protein and good fats, as well as important minerals and vitamins to sustain them until supper time. Make a batch at the weekend (it only takes 5 minutes; get the kids to join in!) and they’ll see you through the week.|
(p178, Go Faster Food for Kids)
Ingredients for 12 bars
1 x 397g can condensed milk
Banana Malt Loaf
Packed with natural sugars, this deliciously moist and energising banana bread contains nutrient-rich carbs, protein, vitamin A, riboflavin, potassium and phosphorous. Malt extract has a long history as a health tonic and, in fact, was spooned into British children’s mouths during the Second World War as a magic elixir to ward of colds and winter illnesses.
(p173, Go Faster Food for Kids)
|Ingredients to serve 12|
200g self-raising wholemeal flour
|A complete doddle to make, these melt-in-the-mouth energy-boosting treats keep for several days in an airtight container (if they last that long) and are packed with healthy oats. Especially good (and even more nutritious) washed down with milk! (A child’s hunger can often be confused with thirst. Pop a bottle of water in your bag, or stop off for a pint of milk on your way to school.)|
(p195, Go Faster Food for Kids)
|Ingredients for 12-15 cookies|
85g unsalted butter
Kate Percy’s Go Faster Food for Kids (£16.99, Go Faster Foods) puts top nutrition advice for active children into practice with delicious, fuss-free recipes. The essential tool kit to unlock your child’s potential, the book is available from Amazon.co.uk and bookstores.