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Snacks are a great way to give them nutrients, and give you more time to prepare dinner. Plan afterschool snacks just like a meal to save time and money. Sometimes commercially proportioned snacks are expensive and not the most nutritious choice.
MyPlate is an excellent guide. Check to see if the snacks you serve have enough nutrients. Do they contain a vegetable, fruit, whole grain, protein or dairy? They do not need to contain all the groups, however, more, it’s extra nutritious!
Vegetables and fruit make great low cost snacks. Carrots, cucumbers and green pepper strips are full of nutrients. Cut and put in reusable plastic containers.
Snacks can also include whole grain foods. Food manufactures use whole grains to make popular cereals. Check to see that whole grain is the first ingredient. f it is the second, most likely the cereal contains 50% or less of whole grain. Sometimes the generic brand is just as nutritious as the name brand. Check the labels and compare the protein, calcium and fiber content.
Snacks can also include foods from the dairy group. Yogurt and a glass of low fat milk are good sources of protein and calcium, along with vitamin D.
Last but not least, protein. Protein is the nutrient which usually gets left out of a snack. Great protein snacks are nuts and beans such as dried peas and garbanzo beans, and milk. Choose to cook dried beans or drain and rinse canned beans.
Recipe: Black Bean Salsa
Makes: 26 Servings
1 can Black beans, canned, drained and rinsed (15 ounce can)
1 bell pepper, green (diced)
1 red bell pepper (diced)
1 onion (diced)
2 cans diced tomatoes (canned, drained)
2 cloves garlic (diced)
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 teaspoon dried cilantro
3 tablespoons rice vinegar (red wine vinegar, or apple cider vinegar)
Tortilla (whole grain) cut into 4 triangles
- Drain and rinse beans. Put beans and tomatoes into large mixing bowl.
- Dice peppers, onion, and garlic. Add to mixing bowl. Mix cumin, cilantro, and vinegar.
- Pour on top of beans and vegetables. Stir well.
- Serve on tortilla triangles by placing small amount in center and roll up or top cucumber circles. Enjoy!
Nutritional Information: Calories 31, Fat 0g, Cholesterol 0mg, Sodium 70mg, Carbohydrate 6g, Fiber 2g, Total Sugars 0g, Protein 2g, Calcium 23mg, Iron 1mg, Potassium 154mg
Source: MyPlate; Black Bean Salsa recipe from USDA What's Cooking website