After School Snack Ideas!

By Caroline M. Grant and Lisa Catherine Harper August 16, 2011

As August winds down, every parent we know is eyeing the calendar, counting the days until school begins and the cobbled-together schedule of day camps and playdates gives way to the more reliable routine of carpools to school and back again. Soon enough, we’ll be eyeing the clock, till the hour the kids come flooding into the house after school, shedding their backpacks and lunch boxes, and needing a snack. Some days, they head right back out again for a scheduled activity or sports practice (at which we might be obligated to bring snacks for the whole team); other days, we like to hang out in the kitchen with the kids: cooking offers an excellent hands-on lesson in math, science, nutrition and (depending on your tolerance for mess!) even arts and crafts. Whether you carve out the time after school or during the weekend, these four quick recipes are ones children can measure out and assemble without much help, so they’re an easy way to get your kids cooking and eating healthy snacks.

  • No-Bake Wonderballs
  • Mad Scientist Smoothies
  • PB & Banana Smoothies
  • Applesauce Muffins

No-Bake Wonderballs

This is a perfect starter recipe for kids, since it doesn’t require heat or sharp knives. You can scale the recipe easily up or down depending on your needs and your kids’ math skills.

If your kids have nut allergies, replace the peanut butter with sunflower seed or soy butter, and skip the chopped nuts, or replace them with extra dried fruit.

Makes 40-48

Mix together 1 cup peanut butter and 1 cup honey until smooth. Gradually add 3 cups old fashioned rolled oats and 1/2 cup ground flaxseed or wheat germ. Add 1/2 cup mini chocolate chips  and 1 cup any combination of chopped nuts and soft dried fruit (try 1/2 cup coarsely chopped peanuts or walnuts and 1/4 cup each of raisins and dried cranberries) and smush together by hand.

Roll into small balls (use a teaspoon or even a melon baller to scoop them out) and, if your kids like things a little fancy, put in paper mini muffin cups. Keep in the fridge or freezer, layered on wax paper in an airtight container.

Mad Scientist Smoothie

Smoothies are a great way to get fresh fruit and vegetables into kids who don’t like to eat them at lunch or dinner, and they’re easy for kids to assemble themselves (just make sure they press the lid of the blender down tightly!).  If you make a habit of tossing your starting-to-brown bananas into the freezer, you’ll always have a good base for a smoothie. Also, save those souvenir lidded cup-and-straw combos you get at zoos, theme parks and the like, and your smoothies will be easy to take on the road.

The cup of spinach in this recipe gives it a bright green color (and lots of vitamins and iron) without any spinachy flavor.
Put in the blender:

1 banana

1 cup spinach leaves

¼ cup yogurt or coconut milk (pour the extra coconut milk into ice cube trays and freeze for the next batch of smoothies)

½ cup ice (2-3 cubes, depending on their size; skip the ice if your banana or coconut milk is frozen)

Puree until smooth and serve with a straw.

PB & Banana Smoothie

Thanks to the generous scoop of peanut butter and milk, this smoothie offers that extra boost of protein some kids need to fuel them through an afternoon on the field.

Put in the blender:

1 frozen banana

1 large tablespoon creamy peanut butter (or substitute almond butter)

1 cup lowfat milk or rice milk—(you can use chocolate milk for an extra treat)

1/2 cup frozen vanilla yogurt

Puree until smooth and serve with a straw.


Applesauce Muffins

Muffins are Caroline’s go-to lunch box and after school snack, as they are a sturdy, healthy, and filling treat.  Lisa brings them when it’s her turn for snacks for the kids’ rec sports league. This easy recipe is a great first baking project for kids, who love watching the reaction of milk and vinegar. The muffins are moist and taste like fall.
3/4 milk (soy, rice, almond and cow’s milk work equally well)
1 tsp apple cider vinegar
1 c unsweetened applesauce
2 tbsp vegetable oil
*3 tbsp ground flaxseed meal
1/2 brown sugar
1 1/2 c all purpose or whole wheat pastry flour
3/4 c oat bran or quick oats
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 c raisins, dried cranberries, or chopped dried apple pieces (optional)

*if you don’t have ground flaxseed meal, simply use an extra tablespoon of vegetable oil

Preheat the oven to 350 and line a 12-cup muffin pan with muffin papers.

Whisk together the milk and vinegar; let it sit a minute to curdle. Add the applesauce, oil and brown sugar and whisk well to combine.

In a separate bowl, whisk together the dry ingredients, then fold into the applesauce mixture. Stir just until combined. Fold in the dried fruit, if using. Scoop batter into muffin cups and bake 25-30 minutes, until a tester comes out clean. Let cool in the pan for 10 minutes and then transfer to a wire rack to finish cooling.


Authors Caroline M. Grant and Lisa Catherine Harper are coeditors of The Dish: Making the Food that Makes Your Family (coming next year from Shambhala Publications). They maintain Learning to Eat, a website where they blog about how they feed their families.