Healthy Back-to-School Snacks |  Food and cooking

Healthy Back-to-School Snacks | Food and cooking

Bernie Mason for the Lee Montana Newspapers

Kids go back to school Kids come home from school hungry and looking for a good snack to fill their hungry stomachs. Having some fresh fruits or vegetables ready in the fridge increases the chance that they will make the healthy choice. There are many flavors of hummus that you can make with vegetables for a good source of protein. Cheese and yogurt sticks, and granola bars and granola bars are also good options. If you want to make your own snack mix, use the following as a guideline: 1 cup cereal, assortment of shapes; 1 cup of small biscuits; 1 cup dried fruit, 1 cup nuts (optional) A cup of candy like chocolate chips. They will likely enjoy the staples that you can make by spreading soft cheese on a whole-wheat tortilla, adding a thin slice of meat and cheese, then rolling and cutting it into sections. It can also be added to a lunch box. These are also excellent choices if students are involved in after-school sports and need something extra for energy to maintain.

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chewy granola bars

Granola bars are a nutritious snack to pack into your lunch box, as well as some for after-school snacks.

2 cups quick cooking oats

2 cups crispy rice cereal

20 small biscuits, mashed

½ cup pancake syrup, maple syrup, or honey

1 teaspoon vanilla

* Dried fruits, nuts, chocolate chips or coconut can be added as desired

Combine oats, cereal, and crackers in a large bowl; Sit aside. Pour syrup or honey into a microwave-safe bowl and heat in the microwave for 30 seconds. Stir in peanut butter until combined. Microwave for another 30 seconds. Add the vanilla. Pour syrup mixture over oat mixture; Stir until completely covered. Spray a 9″ x 13″ skillet with cooking spray and pour the mixture into the skillet. I also used a 9 inch square pan to make a thicker strip. Press the mixture firmly into the pan using wax paper or the back of a spoon. Let the mixture cool completely to room temperature. Cut into bars and enjoy! If desired, (which is what I prefer to do) for a crunchy granola bar, bake in a 300-degree oven for 20 minutes. Source: Iowa State University Extension Service, Spend Smart, Eat Smart Program.

frozen monkeys

Frozen bananas are very popular and are an added treat when dipped in yogurt and cereal. This nutritious and delicious snack will be your after-school snack. Melt a little before serving.

½ cup (6 ounces) plain or vanilla yogurt (I used coconut too)

½ cup of cornflakes, crispy rice, or other whole grains

Dip the banana pieces in the yogurt to cover them. Roll up the cereal and squeeze the yogurt. Turn them all over with a toothpick and place in the freezer until they harden and freeze. To diversify, spread peanut butter on bananas instead of yogurt. Source: Montana State University Supplement, “Buy, Eat, Live Better.”

quick oats

Simplify your morning breakfast routine with this quick oatmeal. Simply pour the prepared contents of the sachet into a bowl and add boiling water. Each child can have a mix of flavors in their bag to avoid making a last minute decision. You can also configure your own flavor combinations.

4 cups rolled oats (not quick-cooking)

6 resealable plastic bags

Flavors of your choice (example below)

Combine the rolled oats and salt in a food processor or blender and grind (in two batches if necessary) until the wheat germ is firm. Put ½ cup of servings into each of the plastic bags. Add the flavors to each one then seal the bags and shake to mix the ingredients. When it is time to eat, empty the contents of one sachet into a bowl and slowly stir it into a cup of boiling water. Cover and leave for 3 minutes. Stir again and add milk or yogurt if you like. Examples of flavorings: (a) 1 teaspoon sugar, 1 tablespoon raisin, a dash of cinnamon. (b) 1 teaspoon brown sugar and a pinch each of nutmeg, ground cinnamon, and cloves; (c) 1 teaspoon brown sugar and 1 tablespoon chopped pecans; (d) 1 teaspoon each of brown sugar and 1 tablespoon each of chopped dried apples and cherries. Source: “Family Fun, Cooking with the Kids,” Family Fun.

Refrigerator muffin with orange fruits

Put a bowl of this muffin mix in the fridge and you can have a batch of fresh muffins in no time in the morning. To make it really quick, you can also microwave one or two muffins in a minute. Kids can come home from school and microwave too for a nutritious snack.

(Makes: 24 – 30 muffins)

1½ cups all-purpose flour

1½ cups whole wheat flour

2 cups whole-grain bran flakes

1¼ teaspoon baking soda

3 teaspoons grated orange peel

6 oz. pkg. dried fruit pieces

In a large bowl, combine all-purpose flour, whole wheat flour, cereal, sugar, baking soda, baking powder, salt, spices, and orange peel. Add milk, oil and eggs. Mix well. Flip the fruit pieces. Secure tight lid. Store in the refrigerator for at least 3 hours, or up to 2 weeks. For baking: Grease the bottoms of only the required number of muffin cups or line them with paper baking cups; Spoon mixture into prepared muffin cups ¾ full. Bake at 400 degrees 18 to 20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. For the microwave: Using microwave-safe baking cups, line each cup with two paper liners to absorb moisture while baking. Fill the cups ½ full. Microwave on high for recommended time: 2 muffins – 1¼1 to 1 minute, 4 muffins – 2 to 2½ minutes, 6 muffins – 3 to 4 minutes. The buns should be slightly moist on top. Remove cakes from pans, remove paper liners, and discard immediately. Cool for a minute before serving. Source: People’s Breakfast and Lunch on Go-Go-Go, Pillsbury Classics.

Bernie Mason writes the Local Flavor column for the Lee Montana newspapers. I worked as an extension agent for Yellowstone County for 24 years. Mason was raised in Sydney in a family of German and Danish ancestry.

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