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When children come home from school, do they make healthy snack choices?
Nashville, Ark. – Can you believe we are halfway through the first nine weeks of school?
Do your children come home in the afternoons starving? Chances are they help themselves
to a snack as soon as they hit the door. According to a national survey, 17 percent
of children in kindergarten through eighth grade spend time alone after school. When
children are alone, they usually help themselves to a snack. Do they have nutritious
options to choose from? Do they make healthy choices?
Chips, cookies, candy and cake are among the most frequently chosen snack
foods according to USDA. In fact, snacks make up about 20 percent of daily calories
among children ages 6 to 11. Snacks should be planned and should guide your children
towards healthy food choices, not just provide empty calories and little nutritional
Consider MyPlate method when choosing foods to eat. Vegetables and fruits
should make up half of the foods you should eat. One-fourth of the plate should be
protein sources and the other one-fourth should be a whole grain food. Add dairy products
on the side for a balanced diet. Here are some great snack choices that will fit in
all areas of the MyPlate method.
The vegetable group allows for a variety of foods to eat. Here your snacks
can consist of vegetable sticks such as carrots, celery, green and red peppers, cucumber,
squash; celery stuffed with peanut butter, cream cheese, or cheese spread; cherry
tomatoes cut into small pieces, or strung on a skewer to make a kabob; raw vegetables
such as broccoli, cauliflower, served with a low fat dip.
The fruit group is probably the easiest group to find healthy snacks.
Snacks here consist of apple ring sandwiches-peanut butter spread on apple rings;
fresh fruit such as tangerine or orange slices, pears, banana or pineapple, grapes,
kiwi, strawberries; the list can go on and on. If fresh fruit is not an option, canned
fruit packed in its own juice or juice drinks that contain 100% fruit juice are all
Some snacks in the whole grain group include: cracker stacks-wheat crackers
with a cheese spread in between; fig bars; popcorn; graham crackers, trail mix, ready-to-eat
cereals; pretzels; muffins and breads of all kinds. Try to choose foods in this group
that are whole grain. You must read the nutrition facts label to determine if a product
is whole grain. Don’t rely on packaging or color.
Snacks in the protein group are a little harder to come up with. Many
times when we think of snacks in this group, we immediately think of peanut butter.
Peanut butter is a great snack but can get a little boring if served all the time.
Some additional choices include: hard cooked eggs in wedges or slices; deviled eggs;
bean dip spread on crackers or a flour tortilla; or meat and bread sandwich cut into
The dairy group offers a wide variety of snacks. For starters, try frozen
yogurt; string cheese; cheese kabobs (cheese cubes on pretzel sticks); cheese toast;
mini yogurt cups; pudding cups made from real milk; and of course, the old standby,
a nice glass of cold milk.
It is a good idea to allow at least two hours or more before a meal for
snacks to prevent your child from being full when it is time to eat dinner. If your
children come home to an empty house, suggest they have snack that will fit into the
dinner plan, such as a snack from the fruit or vegetable group.
Remember snacking can and should add nutrition to your diet if planned
right and planned ahead. For more information on healthy snacks, check out the website
www.choosemyplate.gov or visit the Howard County Extension Office located on the second floor of the courthouse
or call 870-845-7517.
This recipe was enjoyed by all the participants in the 4-H Healthy Snacks
workshop held this past summer. The group made several quick-to-prepare snacks. This
was one of their favorites.
1 cup vanilla yogurt
¾ cup peanut butter
2 tablespoons honey
Yield: 28 servings
Nutrition Information per serving: Calories – 113, Fat – 4 grams, Sugar – 1 gram, Sodium – 90 milligrams
By Jean Ince County Extension Agent - Staff ChairThe Cooperative Extension ServiceU of A System Division of Agriculture
Media Contact: Jean Ince County Extension Agent - Staff Chair U of A Division of Agriculture Cooperative Extension Service 421 N. Main St, Nashville AR 71852 (870) 845-7517 firstname.lastname@example.org
The Arkansas Cooperative Extension Service is an equal opportunity/equal access/affirmative
action institution. If you require a reasonable accommodation to participate or need
materials in another format, please contact your County Extension office (or other
appropriate office) as soon as possible. Dial 711 for Arkansas Relay. The University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture offers all its Extension
and Research programs and services without regard to race, color, sex, gender identity,
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