If she had her way most days, our 12-year-old daughter, Celia, would eat from the moment she gets home from school, straight through to dinner.  From the way she acts (“I’m staaaarrrving!”), you’d think she’d been working on the Chain Gang all day.  She’s nearly as tall as I am, and she’s as thin as a #2 pencil, so I don’t want to deny her food.

Since she’ll eat almost anything during this time, I take advantage of the opportunity, and make the majority of her snacks healthy.  Celia favors popcorn (fresh-popped or low-salt), cheese cubes, apples, fruit smoothies, pretzels, dried apricots, and whole grain chips and salsa.  Sometimes, after she eats a couple of servings of each of these, I can stave her off until dinner with some sugarless gum.  But once her appetite is finally sated, it doesn’t always reappear in time for dinner.  I often wonder where to draw the line with after-school snacks, and whether and how to limit them.

Our friend, Sherry Ettleson, serves her children a platter of cut vegetables and healthy dips (she calls it happy hour) while she’s making dinner, so they can at least fill up on the good stuff.  My friend Stephanie Lowet says that in her family they “portion out the after-school snacks (goldfish, popcorn, cookies or ice cream) so the size is reasonable.  If the kids are still hungry, we offer ‘grow foods’ such as apples and peanut butter, cashews or dried fruits.”

For more healthy after school snack ideas, I love to follow Snack Girl, a.k.a. Lisa Cain, who never seems to run out of interesting ideas for healthy snacks.

Sometimes an after school snack can also serve as a mini meal to tide the kids (or you) over until dinner. Try these ultra-delicious Apple and Brie Quesadillas for an afternoon snack. For younger kids, you can make the quesadillas with just the cheese and serve the apple slices on the side.  These quesadillas also work well as a hot appetizer, sliced into smaller wedges.

Recipe: Apple and Brie Quesadillas with Mango Chutney

Ingredients

  • 4 large whole wheat tortillas
  • 4 oz. light or traditional Brie cheese, thinly sliced
  • 1 Granny Smith or other tart apple, cored and thinly sliced
  • 2 Tbsp. mango chutney, Chinese duck sauce or apricot jam

Instructions

  • Preheat two large skillets over medium to medium-low heat (alternatively, bake all the quesadillas on baking sheets at 375 degrees for 8 – 10 minutes, until they are lightly browned and crisp). (For an extra-crispy quesadilla, brush the outsides of the tortillas lightly with vegetable oil before cooking them.)
  • Lay one tortilla on the bottom of each pan, and top each with 1/2 of the Brie and apples. Spread one side of two more tortillas with 1 Tbsp. of the chutney, and put those tortillas on top of the tortillas in the pan, chutney side down. Let the quesadillas cook for 3 – 4 minutes per side until they start to brown, then carefully flip them and brown the second sides. Remove the quesadillas from the pan. With a pizza cutter or sharp knife, cut the quesadillas into wedges to serve.

Preparation and cooking time: 20 minute(s)

Number of servings (yield): 4

You might also enjoy these after-school snack ideas from Kitchen Explorers:

Soft Pretzels

Crunchy Roasted Chickpeas

Apple Fritters

What are your kids’ favorite healthy after-school snacks? Please share in the comments below.

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