7 After-School Snacks Your Kids Will Love

Impress your kids with these healthy, yummy and easy to make snacks

7 After-School Snacks Your Kids Will Love

After-school snacks are important for growing kids. Because your kiddos have likely not eaten since lunch time,  it's definitely time to refuel—especially if they on their way to an activity. If you are running out of creative and healthy ideas for after-school snacks, here are some tasty and easy options to try with your kids. 

1. Easy Salsa Tortilla Pizzas: Take small whole-wheat tortilla shells and spread salsa and grated cheddar cheese on top. Place on a foil wrapped baking tray and into the toaster oven until edges are brown and cheese in melted. Serve in quarters on their own OR with low fat sour cream or guacamole as a dip.

2. Peanut Butter and Banana Smoothie: For 1 serving: In a blender, blend 1 cup milk or soy milk, 1/4 cup vanilla or banana-flavoured yogurt, 1.5 tbsp of natural peanut butter and 1 medium sized banana. Use a frozen banana for a colder version. 

3. Mini Apple and Cheese Melts: Top whole grain crackers with apple slices and your favorite cheese. Place on a broiler safe (or toaster oven safe) baking sheet and broil for 2-3 minutes or until cheese is melted. 

4. Cheese and Fruit Kabobs: Wash and cut your kids' favorite fruits into bite-sized pieces (i.e., strawberries, grapes, cantaloupe, pineapple etc.). Cut cheddar or mozzarella cheese into medium-sized cubes. Alternating fruit, stick onto skewer with a cube of cheese on either end of skewer. 

5. Whole Grain Tuna Fish Sushi Rolls: In a small bowl, combine one can of light flaked tuna (in water) with 1 tbsp of mayo. Spread a thin layer of light cream cheese on 3-4 pieces of whole grain bread (with crusts off). Divide tuna mixture onto each slice of bread, spreading a thin layer on top of cream cheese. Lay thinly sliced carrot and cucumber sticks on top of the tuna layer, in the middle of the piece of bread and roll bread up like you would roll sushi or a wrap. Cut into bite sized pieces and serve. 

6. Frozen Fruit and Greek Yogurt Salad: Choose your kids favorite fruits (I use bananas, grapes, blueberries). Peel and slice a banana width-wise into half an inch thick pieces and place them, along with grapes and blueberries, on a rimmed parchment-paper-lined baking sheet in a single layer. Transfer into freezer for at least one hour. Dish out 1/2-3/4 cup Greek yogurt into small bowls and top with frozen fruit. 

7. Pear and Almond Butter Wraps: Spread almond butter (or any other kind of nut or seed butter) onto a whole grain soft tortilla shell. Wash, dry and slice a pear into thin slices and place slices in the middle of the tortilla. Wrap the tortilla up, cut the wrap into bite sized pieces width-wise and serve!



Mom Told to Breastfeed in Restaurant Bathroom or Leave

So, what is so offensive about breastfeeding anyways?!

Mom Told to Breastfeed in Restaurant Bathroom or Leave

Dawn Holland, a woman living in Georgia was enjoying a meal at an Applebees (and breastfeeding her 20-month-old son) when she was approached by a restaurant manager who told her to either stop breastfeeding or go to the bathroom to do it (or leave the restaurant). The woman became furious and refused to stop, ultimately resulting in both the manager and the mother calling the police. Luckily, in Georgia, mothers are free to nurse their children whenever and wherever they want (as they should be), so Dawn Holland was in the right. 

Why is it that some people are offended by breastfeeding? Is it the boob? The milk? I really don't get it!? Breastfeeding is natural and provides many health benefits for both baby and Mom. We all know this right?!

This story really struck a chord in me. I personally struggled with breastfeeding for over 6 months. One of the reasons why was because I was afraid to offend people or make people feel awkward. And this is coming from someone who whole-heartedly believes in the amazing benefits of breastfeeding. Yes—I had Breastfeeding Anxiety (if there is such a thing). Why? I have no freaking idea. Maybe it's because of idiots like the Applebees Manager...

Picture this...

Scenario #1: Breastfeeding in front of friends or family

My son starts crying because he is hungry. I panic. I awkwardly fish my breastfeeding cover out of my diaper bag, lift up my shirt, try my best to attach my son to my boob, all while doing everything in my power not to (God forbid!) flash anyone within eyesight. We are both hot, sweaty messes by this point, so I casually wipe the sweat off of my brow, flash a nervous smile at whomever I am with and try my best to pretend that I am a pro.

I'm a Dietitian! I preach the benefits of breastfeeding! I can DO this!! 

I try to lift my cover so that I can see what the hell I'm doing, as my poor son grows increasingly fussy, likely due to my anxiety.

That was me—sweaty, awkward, anxious me, trying to feed my baby without offending anyone around me.

Silly me. 

Scenario #2: At the Mall with my newborn (here's where I over-share)

My son is 6 weeks old and we're walking in the Mall. All of a sudden he starts crying and I can't sooth him. In a panic, I try to find a bathroom because I'm too nervous to nurse in public. I literally run with my son in the stroller to the nearest bathroom, which is at one end of the Mall, only to realize that there is no place for me to nurse. No nursing room. No chairs. Just stalls. Oh no.

My son is frantic and starving at this point, so I grit my teeth, park the stroller and walk into the end stall, sit on the toilet, sanitize everything around me with hand sanitizer and start nursing. Yep, I was THAT mother. I felt like the most terrible mom in the world. Who does that?! At that point, feeds were taking at least 45 minutes. I waited it out, covering my son's whole body as best as I could with receiving blankets, as people came and left, doing their business. It was awful. And I can't believe I just shared that!! I also can't believe that the store manager at Applebees in Georgia told an innocent woman, who was discreetly breastfeeding her toddler at the back of the restaurant in a booth, to relocate to the bathroom, where she would likely have to sit on a toilet and nurse like I did. Shame on him. 

I have vowed to myself that if I'm lucky enough to have another baby and lucky enough to be able to breastfeed, I will do so with confidence, out in public and NOT in a bathroom. Heck- maybe I won't even use a cover—it always got in the way anyway! As mothers, we should feel comfortable feeding our babies via breast or bottle, without judgment and without becoming hot, sweaty, anxious messes. I envy women like Dawn Holland, who are confident enough to breastfeed wherever they are with ease.

Well, everywhere except for the bathroom stall that is;)


Organic VS Conventional: The Debate Continues...

Is it worth it to spend the extra money on organic foods? Who knows?!

Organic VS Conventional: The Debate Continues...

For as long as I can remember, there have been conflicting messages around whether or not to buy organic foods or non-organic (conventionally grown) foods. I remember back in University, even my professors had differing opinions, based on varying studies and evolving science.

Here's the thing: Nutritional Science changes daily.

And I really don't foresee that we will have conclusive facts or guidelines when it comes to the organic/conventional debate in the near future. The good thing is, we're learning more and more as time goes on. The recent study/review published in the Annals of Internal Medicine (the one that has created all of the buzz) states that "the published literature lacks strong evidence that organic foods are significantly more nutritious than conventional foods." It also claims that "organic foods may reduce exposure to pesticide residues and antibiotic-resistant bacteria."

Didn't we already know that?!

Because this paper is a review of several other studies that have been done over the years, it represents information that we already knew. There isn't any new earth shattering science here, despite the huge media buzz. It's hard for us Dietitians and other health professionals to feel confident in what we recommend to clients when the science that we have to draw from is inconclusive. All we can do is take the information that we have and translate it into terms that others can understand, to empower them to make the best choice for themselves and their families. It really comes down to personal choice. 

My opinions and thoughts around this subject have evolved and changed over the years with the science. Now that I have a growing family and more knowledge, I do choose to buy some organic foods when I can afford them (and I use the term "can" loosely). I also like to buy as local as possible because supporting local farmers is important to me. If you buy local, your food hasn't travelled as long and will likely retain more nutritional value because of that. That being said, it's hard for most of us in the prairies to have a good variety of fresh, local produce year round, but we can do the best that we can with what is available to us.

I like to use the Environmental Working Groups Dirty Dozen and Clean Fifteen list when it comes to produce because I don't like the idea of consuming chemicals like pesticides, herbicides and fertilizers. Although these lists aren't based on perfect science, at least they provide some guidance to consumers. As Candace Derickx points out in her latest blog post, it can be both frustrating and confusing trying to decide which fruits and veggies to buy for your family!

The effects of pesticides and other chemicals are still largely unknown, but they may be carcinogenic, they may cause disruptions to the nervous system, and they may affect our hormone and endocrine systems. The amounts that are consumed by humans through non-organic produce may be small enough as not to have a harmful effect though.

Who knows?! 

When it comes to meats and poultry, much to my thrifty husband's dismay, I do try to buy organic/grass fed most of the time from local farmers. I love chatting with the Farmer at the market about how they raise their animals (without hormones or antibiotics), what they feed them and how they are treated. It just makes me feel good about what I'm buying, eating and feeding my family.

The downside?

Let's start with "the look" that I get from my husband when I return and start unpacking my beautiful cuts of organic meat. And then there is the guilt that feel for spending so much money on food. "I AM a Dietitian" is my usual defensive response. And then I get the "eye-roll."

Sometimes I opt for Superstore's "free-from" line ( a product line that features cuts of meat that are free from hormones and antibiotics) which is a great alternative if you cannot afford organic meats. And let's face it, most of us can't!

When it comes to produce, regardless if you choose to (or can) buy organic or not, eating fruits and vegetables PERIOD is healthy and beneficial. Much healthier than not eating them at all. As this study states, the difference in nutrient composition between organic and conventional produce is likely minimal. Let's go with that. So you're still getting all of the wonderful vitamins, antioxidants, and phytochemicals even if you're not choosing organic. Nobody, in my mind, should feel guilty about buying non-organic fruits and veggies. Just because I choose to spend a tad beyond my means (and piss my husband off) to buy some organic foods, doesn't mean that you should do the same or that I'm a better parent. Buying fruits and veggies of any kind is A GOOD THING.

After all, the only conclusive evidence that we have about this debate is that there is no conclusive evidence.