Creative ideas for those afterschool treats!

January 6, 2009 4:12:14 PM PST
A new year means new and nutritional snacks for your kids. Dr. Wendy Bazilian has some ideas on how to turn some old favorites into nutritional sensational snacks that all kids will love.

5 Cool Nutrition Tips for Kids All Day Long
From Wendy Bazilian, DrPH, RD |

It sure takes creativity and persistence with many kids to get them eating healthy and choosing to eat well, but having fun and teaching good nutrition can go together. There are lots of great ways to boost nutrition, flavor, and engage in the 'fun' of food. Here are 5 cool nutrition tips for cool kids.

  1. Fruit first at Breakfast.
    In the breakfast cereal bowl or with a waffle or oatmeal, put the fruit in the bowl or on the plate first. This will boost the nutrition by increasing fiber and adding those powerful antioxidants and essential vitamins and minerals, while also teaching them a fabulous habit that will last a lifetime. For finicky or creative types, offer a couple types of fruit: berries, sliced banana, dried cherries or raisins and let them decide.

  2. Banana Dogs for Lunch: Too Cool for School.
    Think hotdog gone gourmet with goodness. It's not a traditional hotdog at all, but so nutritious and fun. Create a Banana Dog for your child's lunchbox. Take a whole grain hotdog bun and spread natural peanut butter or almond butter inside. Drizzle some honey and pack the bun into a Ziploc sandwich bag for the lunch. Pack a banana - still in the peel and all your child has to do is unpeel the banana, pop it into the bun and eat like a hotdog! The banana doesn't go brown that way and kids love to show-off with their new twist on a sandwich. High fiber, healthy proteins and fat and potassium, along with a piece of fruit built right into the meal itself. You can't go wrong with this complete and balanced nutrition, kid-friendly, and super fun lunchtime option.

  3. Snack Attack: Snack Time Trail Mix.
    When kids are ready for a snack. They want it now! Making up snack-size Ziploc bags with homemade trail mix of nuts and dried fruits is a slam-dunk strategy. And in every few bags-but not every one-add in a few chocolate chips for fun. Better yet, get the kids in on creating the snacks and set up an assembly line for them to mix and match as they like. This is a great activity to do together and for practice with measuring and counting, too. Combine in each:

    * 2 Tbsp Dried Fruit: Dried cherries, apricots, blueberries, raisins, cranberries (craisins), etc.

    * 2 Tbsp Nuts: Almonds, walnuts, cashews, peanuts are some of the kid-friendly favorites. You can also use pistachios, pecans, macadamias, soy nuts or even sunflower or pumpkin seeds.

    * 1 Tbsp Chocolate Chips (optional): Add to every third bag for a 'fun surprise' but also not the expected norm.

  4. After School Snack Help.
    After school the kids are usually ready for a snack. It marks the end of their day, they've worked their brains and their bodies and it marks a transition to end the school day and start their afternoon involved in other activities. It's perfectly ok to have a homemade or good quality cookie or other treat, but pull out other 'handy' and nutritious finger foods alongside-every day-and your kids will get accustomed to seeing and enjoying these healthier and tasty foods, too.

    * Go nuts with nuts and dried fruits. Homemade trail mix or cereal mixes. Already mixed or make a mix and match display or a few types of nuts and dried fruits. Peanuts and pistachios in their shells make for a fun snack that requires a little activity, too.

    * Introduce veggies and bean dips - baby carrots, celery sticks, cherry tomatoes-poppable treats. Fingers or toothpicks for dipping into hummus, black bean dip or other fun and healthy, high fiber/high energy combinations you can make easily at home and also now available in the grocery store.

    * Fancy fruit: Make small fruit skewers (grapes and blueberries) on toothpicks or bamboo skewers and all of a sudden fruit looks more appealing! Or cut finger-sized apple and pear slices. Serve with a sweet yogurt dipping sauce and you've got great nutrition and fun.

  5. Just for Fun-Blueberry Dessert Pizza -- for dessert or snack (or it could even be a healthy breakfast!)
    This is easy to make and great nutrition too as you and your child arranges blueberries, mandarin oranges from the can and sliced green grapes as the toppings above a sweet cream cheese spread on a cinnamon-sugar flour tortilla pizza. It takes only 10 minutes to make and is as fun to do together as it is delicious to eat. Blueberries are an excellent source of vitamin C, high in fiber and low in calories as are mandarins and green grapes. You get some healthy protein and fat in the whipped cream cheese and some carbs for good energy to run, think and play. Plus it's just plain fun. Great ways to boost nutrition, flavor, and engage in the 'fun' of food.
Blueberry Dessert Pizza:
YIELD: 2 portions
Per portion: 324 calories, 36 carbohydrate, 18 g total fat, 10.4 g saturated fat

1 (10-inch) flour tortilla
1/2 teaspoon butter, softened
3 teaspoons sugar, divided
1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 cup whipped cream cheese
1/2 cup fresh blueberries
1/2 cup mixed fruit (such as grape halves and mandarin oranges)

Preheat oven to 400°F. Place tortilla on an ungreased baking sheet; spread with butter. In a cup, combine 1 teaspoon of the sugar and the cinnamon; sprinkle evenly over the tortilla. Bake tortilla until edges just begin to brown, 3 to 4 minutes; remove to a serving plate. In a small bowl, combine the remaining 2 teaspoons sugar with the cream cheese; spread evenly over the crisp tortilla. Arrange blueberries and other fruit on top. Cut in 4 wedges and serve immediately.

Recipe courtesy of the U.S. Highbush Blueberry Council |

Dr. Wendy Bazilian is a nutrition specialist and co-owner of Bazilian's Health Clinic.