CEL W17 Masthead
Fresh fruit parfaits

After school sugar swaps

Kate Freeman

With a big day of learning and activity under their belts, kids often come home from school with rumbling bellies, ready to eat you out of house and home (mine sure do)!

Parents can make the most of this afternoon teatime by offering nutritious snacks for nourishment. Many snacks such as biscuits, cakes, lollies, soft drink and choc chip muesli bars are unnecessarily high in added sugar. The added sugar in these products can add up very quickly (see our previous article on this here). Too much added sugar each day can lead to weight gain and poor health in both our children and ourselves.

Fear not: there are lots of low sugar snack options that you can whip up for your hungry kids after school! Here are a few ideas. Within this post you’ll also find two videos which will show you how to make healthy after school snacks and cracker toppings!

Fruit and vegetable tasting plate

Kids are much more likely to eat fruit and vegetables if they’re cut up into bitable sizes and put in front of them. A bright and colourful plate of fresh produce, in my opinion, is one of the best weekly habits to establish in your home. Start with sweet tasting vegetables such as carrots, snow peas, cucumber, red capsicum and green beans – kids are more likely to eat these plus they’re delicious and easy to eat raw.

Once you’ve prepared the tasting plate, place it on the coffee table or kitchen bench without a word and walk away. Your kids will watch you nibble on it throughout the afternoon and I guarantee that if you have no other food on offer, curiosity will overcome them and they will happily tuck in or at least give something a try.

Have a look at Kate showing you how to create three simple after school snacks. Article continues after this video.

Trail mix

With most schools these days being ‘nut free’, kids who are fine to eat nuts are not regularly eating these highly nutritious and delicious whole foods. Afternoon tea is the perfect opportunity to pop them into your child’s day as they are a great source of healthy fats, dietary fibre, vitamins and minerals. The presence of this nutrition means they’re quite satisfying as well.

Make up a trail mix of raw nuts (peanuts, cashews, almonds, etc), seeds (pumpkin, sunflower), dried coconut and a small amount of dried fruit. A small handful is a good portion size that will keep your kids going until dinnertime.

Just be mindful of the dried fruit as excess consumption can lead to tooth decay. Offering this one-two times per week is plenty.

Yoghurt and muesli parfait

Why not try making your kids a layered afternoon snack of low fat plain yoghurt, natural muesli and fresh fruit. It’ll fill them up, re-fill their energy tanks and also offer them plenty of good nutrition as well. (Watch Kate make this in the video above!)

Tuna and corn mix

Another super easy and quick whole foods snack is mixing a small tin of tuna with a small can of corn kernels (drained) and a little bit of grated, low fat cheese. Pull it together with a little dollop of mayonnaise. Yum!

Whole-meal mini-pancakes

The basic pancake recipe of 1 cup of flour, 1 cup milk and 1 egg can be jazzed up for a delicious savory snack by adding a handful of grated low fat cheese and mixed dried herbs. Use whole-meal flour to boost the fibre and low fat milk for a filling bite to eat. Plus, if you make extra, you can pop some in your child’s lunch box the next day!

Vegetable sticks and dip

Most kids love to dip. Try popping some carrot sticks, sugar snap peas, capsicum sticks and cucumber sticks out with some hummus or yoghurt based dip.

Vegetables

Smoothies

Smoothies are a great filling snack that can offer lots of good energy into your child’s day, which is especially important for really active kids. Throw some fresh fruit, low fat milk, low fat, plain yoghurt and anything else you have on hand like oats, coconut, chia seeds, psyllium husk and blend away. Offer it with a straw and your kids will happily suck away for afternoon tea!

Fresh fruit

The Australian Dietary Guidelines recommends that children consume two serves of fruit per day. Here are some examples equalling one serve of fruit, perfect for afternoon tea. Most kids would have had their other serve in their lunch box for fruit break.

  • ½ cup fresh berries (raspberries, blueberries, strawberries) – you could add them to a tub of low fat plain yoghurt
  • ½ pineapple chunks – you could serve it with a small sprinkle of coconut flakes
  • ½ cup watermelon cubes – you could pair it with other melon like rock melon or honey dew
  • a whole banana or apple
  • 1 whole apple or pear, sliced – add it with slices of low fat tasty cheese or spread it with 100 per cent peanut or almond butter
  • 1 orange cut into wedges or circles
  • 1 kiwifruit, peeled and sliced

Cheese & whole-meal crackers

A few thin slices of cheese with wholegrain crackers are very quick and easy to offer your kids after school. You can even add some vegetables by adding with baby spinach leaves, tomato or cucumber slices.

Popcorn

Air-popped popcorn is a fantastic afternoon snack that your kids can happily munch away on. Make it yourself without added fat (butter or oil), sugar and salt or buy ‘air-popped’ popcorn pre-made from the supermarket.

Soft-boiled egg with toast soldiers

This was one of my favourite snacks growing up. Serve a soft-boiled egg (boil for 4 mins) in an egg cup with the top removed. The yoke and white should be warm but still gooey. Serve with a piece of whole grain toast cut into ‘soldiers’. Dip the toast sticks into the gooey egg! Yum! And it takes less than 10 minutes to prepare.

Watch Kate create five easy cracker toppings – perfect for after school! Post continues after this video. 

Spinach and Cheese Quiches

Ingredients: (makes 12 quiches)

  • 12 slices of wholemeal/multi-grain bread, crusts removed
  • 6 eggs
  • ¼ cup low fat milk
  • 1 cup grated reduced fat tasty cheese
  • 2-3 tsp dried mixed herbs
  • 2 cups of baby spinach, roughly shredded

Method:

  • Pre-heat your oven to 180 degrees Celsius.
  • Roll out the bread so it’s flat and press each slice into a 12 case muffin tray. Set aside.
  • Meanwhile, combine the eggs, milk, cheese, herbs and baby spinach in a bowl. Evenly distribute amongst the 12 slices of bread in the muffin tray. Sprinkle with parmesan cheese and bake in the oven for 30 minutes or until golden.
  • Remove from the oven and allow to cool. Serve warm or cold. Once cooled to room temperature they can be stored in the fridge for up to 3 days.

Rice cakes with toppings

Plain, unflavoured rice cakes make a great base for topping with a range of healthy food combinations. Watch Kate create these toppings in the video above!

Rice crackers

Hummus, ham and tomato

2 rice cakes

1 Tbsp hummus

60g ham

2-3 thick slices of tomato

Cream cheese, salmon and rocket

2 rice cakes

1 Tbsp. reduced fat cream cheese

50g smoked salmon

small hand full of rocket

Ricotta, blueberries and honey

2 rice cakes

2 Tbsp. reduced fat ricotta cheese

50g blueberries

2 tsp honey

Peanut butter, banana and flaked almonds

2 rice cakes

1 Tbsp peanut butter

1/2 medium banana

1 tsp shaved almonds

Avocado, feta and tomato

2 rice cakes

1/2 avocado

30g reduced fat feta

2-3 slices of tomato

Still need more ideas for reducing the added sugar from your family’s diet? Here are some quick sugar swaps for the whole day!

  1. Swap sugary breakfast cereals for wheat biscuits with low fat milk and fruit, such as a banana.
  2. Swap a chocolate breakfast cereal for porridge with low fat milk and fruit, such as fresh or frozen berries.
  3. Swap a chocolate bar for low fat, natural yoghurt with fruit, such as banana, kiwi fruit or strawberries.
  4. Swap fruit rollies for fresh fruit salad or cut fruit such as melon, banana, apples, kiwi fruit and fresh berries.
  5. Swap a choc chip muffin for homemade apple-berry snack pikelets. Try adding grated apple or berries to your pikelet batter. Don’t forget to use whole meal flour for an extra fibre boost!
  6. Swap tiny chocolate biscuits for low fat cheese on whole grain crackers.
  7. Swap a glass of fruit drink for fresh orange wedges.
  8. Swap a glass of soft drink or fruit drink for plain tap water or low fat milk.
  9. Swap yoghurt covered or choc chip muesli bars for air-popped popcorn.
  10. Swap lollies for vegetable sticks with dip.

Head over to The Good Habits for Life website and sign your family up for the Sugar Swap Challenge. You’ll be equipped with lots of helpful resources to help your family swap out sugary drinks, sugary snacks and sugary breakfast cereals. I guarantee that after you’ve made a few of these swaps your family will be feeling great and ready to make some of these swaps for good!

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Get hands on!

Want to learn more about how to make healthy, delicious and easy lunchbox options for the new school term with hands-on, practical advice from the Healthy Eating Hub’s nutritionist, Kate Freeman? Register below for our FREE workshop on Thursday 5 May from 7.30pm – 8.30pm! Please note this workshop is limited to 20 people, so be quick to register – it’s on a ‘first in’ basis!

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Kate Freeman

Kate Freeman is a Registered Nutritionist and the founder and managing director of The Healthy Eating Hub. Kate’s healthy eating philosophy is all about whole, fresh foods, being realistic about life and creating long term healthy eating habits. She doesn’t believe in detoxes, fad diets or quick fixes. Once you’ve finished working with Kate, you’ll be empowered to feed yourself well for the rest of you life! More about the Author

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