School Is Back in Session: Ten Easy (and Healthy) Back-to-School Snacks

Summer is over and the kids are going back to school, which means parents are going to need some tasty treats to serve their kids after school. I know when I was in elementary, middle and high school I was ALWAYS hungry when 3:00 came around. It is easy for kids to grab a bag of chips from the vending machine, or eat a plain granola bar when they want something to eat after a long day at school, but where's the fun in that?

Parents, here are ten after school snacks you can easily make for your kids when their grumbling tummies are searching for something to eat. Oh and they are quite nutritious as well.

10. Homemade Granola Bars

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If you want to give your kids an updated version of a regular snack, make homemade granola bars rather than the store bought kind. You can eliminate a lot of the added hydrogenated oils and high-fructose corn syrup found in factory-made granola bars by making delicious and nutritious versions at home. Make the bar out of old-fashion oats, nuts, a couple tablespoons of oil, salt, brown sugar, honey and vanilla extract, then add any combination of dried fruit like cranberries, cherries or raisins and a little extra sweetness from peanut butter chips, chocolate chips or white chocolate chips.

9. Raisin Bread Sandwiches with Pears, Walnuts and Cream Cheese

I loved cream cheese sandwiches as a kid and I still do to this day. My mom could spread strawberry cream cheese onto a slice of white bread, fold it in half and I would be a very happy kid. But, this recipe is an updated version of that simple (but oh so delicious) snack. Take two slices of raisin bread, then spread low-fat cream cheese on both sides, top one slice with sliced pears and the other slice with chopped walnuts. Stick the two slices together and cut into triangles. The sweetness from the raisin bread and pears combined with the soft cream cheese and crunchy walnuts is a fun, tasty snack your kids will love.

8. Capri Sun Popsicles

OK, I'm in my twenties and think these things are the coolest popsicles ever. Because it is still hot outside and will be for a bit longer, popsicles are a wonderful after school snack. Capri Sun is clear, so when you pour it into a popsicle mold, then add sliced fruit, like kiwis, halved blueberries, strawberries, etc., it looks like the fruit is floating in the popsicle. Match the fruit with the flavor of the Capri Sun. You can make these after your kids go to school, so when they come home they will have a beautiful popsicle waiting for them in the freezer.

7. Celery Sticks

Yes, celery sticks by themselves are possibly the most bland thing to feed your kids, but that's where fun toppings come into play. As a child, I always loved topping my celery sticks with peanut butter and raisins to make the infamous ants-on-a-log treat, or simply adding a layer of cream cheese into the well of the celery sticks. You can also add a slice of cheese and wrap turkey meat or ham around each celery stick. Getting kids to eat their fruits and vegetables can be difficult, but when they get to "play" with their food, it makes things much easier.

6. Fruit Skewers with Cheese

Fruit and cheese is such a wonderful combination, but it is boring on its own. Use wooden skewers to stick a variety of cheese cubes and slices of fruit like strawberries, mangoes, oranges, bananas, apples and whole grapes. Make sure the fruit is small enough to be easily eaten by your kids. You can perfectly portion out their snack by using the skewers.

5. "Sushi"

No, this is not regular sushi; that would be way too difficult and majority of kids don't even like sushi. Martha Stewart has a recipe for "Sushi" Surprise, which wraps crunchy veggies like carrot and cucumber sticks with a cream cheese spread inside white bread. All you have to do is flatten two slices of white sandwich bread with a rolling pin, then spread the cream cheese mixture made from three tablespoons of cream cheese and one and a half tablespoons of sour cream over both flattened slices of bread. Next, place your veggies cut into matchsticks - carrots, cucumbers, bell peppers, zucchini or celery - on the bottom of each flattened slice of bread; the veggies should hang over the edges of each bread slice. Roll the bread like a sushi roll, then cut into equal pieces. The only thing that is raw with these sushi rolls are the veggies.

4. Frozen Fruit Parfait

Parfaits are always so fun to make and you can prepare them in advance, too. Change up the components a little bit by freezing the fruit before adding it to the parfait. Berries, like strawberries, blueberries and blackberries along with grapes and cherries are excellent fruits to freeze. Make layers of yogurt, frozen fruit and granola for a cool, sweet afternoon treat. It's like froyo, except the fruit is frozen instead of the yogurt.

3. Apple Sandwiches

Rather than using bread for a sandwich, substitute the starchy product with apple slices to make apple sandwiches. Core a small apple (any flavor), then cut crosswise into ½-inch thick rounds. Spread one slice with peanut butter, top with granola and honey, then place another apple round on top to complete the sandwich. It's sweet, crunchy and a satisfying treat. Plus, whatever you add peanut butter to is always a great snack.

2. Mini Quesadillas

There is literally an endless amount of fillings you can use to make quesadillas. You can be simple with chicken, ham or turkey and cheese, or make it complex with corn, chopped sweet bell peppers and diced tomatoes, or opt for the sweet variety by adding peanut butter with strawberries or thin apple slices with cheese. Either slice the tortillas into wedges, or use a cookie cutter and cut out fun shapes for your kids.

1. Mini Pizzas

Don't settle for the pizza bagel bites or other frozen pizza snacks when you can make mini pizzas at home that are a lot healthier and, in my opinion, a lot tastier. Split an English muffin in half, then top each half with pizza sauce, cheese and whatever toppings your kids like, such as pepperoni, crumbled sausage, pineapple and Canadian bacon, or just keep it simple with shredded cheese. Bake the pizzas in a 400 degree preheated oven for about 12 minutes, or until golden. Make these pizzas in advance and stick them in the oven when your kids get home from school.

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