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After-school snacks

September 08, 1998|By TERI JOHNSON

School's in full swing, and parents are facing one of the toughest homework assignments of all: preparing nutritious after-school snacks that kids actually will eat.

Presenting foods in a fun way plays a big part in your success, says Arleen Shuster, nutritionist with the Women, Infants and Children program at Washington County Health Department.

Shuster, a registered dietitian, suggests making a snack box for each child.

Cover a shoe box with foil and decorate it with stickers, then tuck favorite snacks inside.

"It's fun to go to the fridge, look at the box and say 'I wonder what's here today,' " Shuster says.

A snack such as trail mix can be more fun if you serve it in a snow cone wrapper, she says.

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What you call foods can increase their attractiveness to kids, says Donald Trumble, director of food and nutrition services for Washington County schools.

Kids might not be interested in eating peanut butter on celery sticks, but if you sprinkle raisins on top and name it Ants on a Log, they'll gobble it up.

Call orange segments orange smiles, and you've increased their appeal, Trumble says.

Shuster says kids are more willing to eat snacks they help to prepare.

One favorite with her two sons is Apple Boats, which are apples filled with peanut butter, crispy rice cereal, peanuts and raisins.

Using your kids' favorite foods in a recipe also can make snacks more desirable. Some top choices include grapes, apples and baby carrots.

Cheese and peanut butter are big hits with kids, and they are combined in Pea-che Fudge. Trumble says his office has received hundreds of requests for the recipe over the years.

The recipe is included in the booklet "Good-for-You Snacks," published by the school food service and Maryland Cooperative Extension through a Team Nutrition grant.

Students are learning they should eat nutritious snacks, and parents want to know what those snacks should be, Trumble says.

Snacks should be viewed as smaller meals that provide a variety of foods from the different groups, Shuster says.

She says children, with their high level of energy, need refueling more often than adults and should eat every three or four hours.

Preparing snacks in advance can prevent a lot of stress after school, Shuster says.

"When you're tired and the kids are grouchy, it's a horrible time to figure out what you want to eat," she says.

The booklet "Good-for-You Snacks" will be available by the end of September. To obtain a copy, call 301-766-2893.

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