Kids run out of fuel fast. In the time it takes to say “peanut butter and celery” they can go from full energy to full meltdown. Turn after-school snack time into an opportunity to jump-start your kid’s motor and memory. These five veggie-rich snacks include kid-friendly ingredients that should pass your little one’s smell test.
It may just be a coincidence. Kids get out of school the same time that our circadian rhythms recover from one of the day’s strongest sleep-drive periods. But that rapid downshift from feats of interpretive dance to emotional meltdowns? That’s probably not a coincidence.
Kids, like toys about to use up their batteries, don’t know when they are going to run out of juice. It’s up to us to spot the signs, and to choose refueling snacks that will ensure a smooth recovery. Don’t underestimate the power of ingredients in this selection. Those snacks can spell the difference between focused thoughts and crazy mood swings.
So let’s outsmart physiology. Snacks packed with brain-alerting ingredients, including peppers, sweet potatoes and leafy greens, will help improve your kids’ memories and moods. At the same time, they’ll keeping energy levels stable – not running amuck.
The following five snacks are balanced with kid-friendly ingredients, so expect less “yuck” faces. Bonus: They are easy to make with the kids. Enjoy!
Zesty Southwest Baked Sweet Potato and Black Bean Taquitos
This hand-held snack is high in vitamin C from sweet potatoes and iron from beans. And boy, do they work together well. Sweet potatoes are complex carbohydrates, providing the little ones with long-lasting energy. Vitamin C also boosts immunity and enhances the body’s ability to absorb the iron from the beans. You can enroll the kids to help toss the potatoes and beans with corn and cheese. Then add in a mixture of softened cream cheese and Zesty Southwest Veggie Vida. Spread the combined ingredients on tortillas, roll and bake. Click here for the recipe!
These rollups are lean, green and mean on midday doldrums. Spinach, collards, chard and kale are brimming with brain-boosting folate, vitamins C and K, calcium and beta-carotene. Their leaves, which you can boil and chill ahead, serve as the shells. For the filling, use your choice of beans, brown rice and niblet-sized carrots, peas and red peppers. Mix the ingredients in an orange juice-based dressing with sesame seeds. (This also can be done in advance; just store the mixture in the fridge.) When ready, call the kids in to spoon the mix into the leaves and roll them up. If you feel fancy, stick a frilly toothpick in each. Ready to go! Thanks for the inspiration, Whole Foods Market!
Spinach- and Cheese-Stuffed Mini Peppers
These adorable little peppers conceal the power of iron by way of spinach. A cheese of your choice makes for protein, and the peppers are big in vitamin C, one of iron’s good friends. This is a little-fist-sized snack, but can be turned into a meal with the addition of baked chicken. Heat up in a large skillet some tomato sauce, cooked brown rice or quinoa, fresh spinach. Add a half-cup each of cottage cheese, Parmesan and mozzarella. Stuff the tomato-cheese mixture into halved peppers. Bake for 10 minutes. Great recipe, SuperHealthyKids!
Sweet ‘Tater Tots or Fries
Sweet potato fries can be baked, making these a fairly fuss-free snack. Just toss cut sweet potatoes in a mix of oil, salt and seasonings, such as garlic powder and paprika. Bake for half an hour. We like dipping them in Zesty Southwest or Creamy Ranch Vegy Vida. It’s free of preservatives, sugar and MSG. If you have more time, boil the potatoes first and then grate them to make the foundation for tots. Mix the grated potatoes with garlic salt, onion powder, Savory Bacon Vegy Vida and other seasoning. At this point the kids can help make tot forms with their perfectly sized hands. Fry for about five minutes and let cool before digging in. Learn more about these recipes here.
Kale is up there with broccoli when it comes to super-nutritious foods. Kale, however, edges out broccoli on the protein front and delivers more of many vitamins and nutrients. De-stem a bunch of washed kale leaves. Further divide the halved leaves into pieces small enough for a child, keeping in mind the pieces will shrink a bit while cooking. Lay the kale out on a towel or spin in a salad spinner until completely dry. Toss in a small amount of seasoned olive oil, making sure each leaf is coated, and bake for 10 minutes. Spritz with lemon or lime, sprinkle with Parmesan cheese or serve as is. Thanks for the idea, and for several variations, Modern Parents, Messy Kids!
With these recipes, your kids will not only get a shot of alertness at homework time, they’ll have a fun after-school activity. And since many of these snacks can be prepped ahead, you’ll be smartly on cue to avoid a total meltdown.