So, it's back to school time again, is it? Once more unto the breach, dear friends.
Once again, clothes must be bought, school supplies organized, permission slips filled out and, in the case of parents of younger kids, day cares must be checked to make sure they're not secretly run by cults.
And on top of all that, we have to feed these youngsters! Yep, that's right. Failure to feed your children can result in low grades, lack of energy and a persistent whining sound coming from them.
As tempting as it might be to just buy Snack Packs by the case and augment them with granola bars, Fruit Roll-Ups and any other brightly packaged convenience food, why not take a bold step and actually look at some nutritious, healthy after-school snacks you can make at home?
Heck, you might even get the kids involved in one of the five following recipes ...
This is an easy one that even the youngest kid will want to get in on making.
The great part is that it's insanely versatile. As long as you have graham crackers and some sort of spread, the fruit combinations are limitless.
Let the kids be part of the process from start to finish! Have them help select fruits, even dried or frozen ones although fresh is best, and play around with different spreads. While they can be pricey, almond, cashew or soy butters can help steer around peanut allergy issues.
These are great make-ahead snacks for lunch boxes, too. Stick to dried fruit for those, though, since the juice in fresh fruit can turn the graham crackers soggy.
Fruit s'mores are great, but sometimes your kids are in the mood for something a bit more nutty ...
Oatmeal Peanut Butter Bars
This one is a total classic. The bars combine everything that's best about after-school snacks: They taste good, they're fairly healthy, the kids can help make them and they keep a long time.
Here again, the ingredients are ripe for modification. This is a great time to teach your kids about contrasting flavors, if they've got any culinary interest at all.
Throw some super-tart dried cranberries in instead of the raisins. Use chopped toasted pecans or almonds instead of the sunflower seeds. Dip the entire bar in chocolate ... no, wait. Forget that last one.
The point is that this is another great snack. Just ignore that pot of melted chocolate over there. Put it right out of your mind ... at least until our next back-to-school snack ...
You didn't forget about the chocolate, did you?
Admit it. Since the last page, you've been sitting there with a glazed expression just dreaming about watching the bubbles slowly form on the top of that liquid goodness, dipping random items into it and eating them until you slip into a diabetic fugue.
Your kids think about that, too. Make these with them and you can both satisfy your chocolate jones without breaking your waistlines.
The crunchy texture of the noodles and the saltiness of the peanuts can make these truly addictive, but make these a reward for getting homework done or household chores finished and you'll find smooth sailing.
And, yes, you can reward yourself, too. Being the boss is hard work!
Next up, we dish out a little peace, love and yumminess ...
Serious Hippie Food
OK, so they're actually called Almond Butter-Wheat Germ Sticks, but get halfway through making these with your kids and you'll start hearing "Incense and Peppermints" and wanting to really look at your hands, man.
Unlike most snacks that are this darned healthy, though, these actually taste good. Your kids will never suspect that they're getting one of the healthiest sources of fiber around combined with healthy fats that will keep their coats shiny and their eyes bright.
What, your kids don't have coats? Don't they get cold at the bus stop? What kind of a parent are you, anyway?
Hopefully, you're the kind who would make our next and final after-school treat ...
Chocolate Chip Ice Cream Sandwiches
Sure, you can toddle on down to the megamart and buy a box of ice cream sandwiches anytime.