After-school snacks don't usually consist of the most nutritious foods. There are several reasons for this. One, your parents probably aren't around to make anything, so you grab whatever's easiest—like Coke and Cheetos. Two, after a long day at school, you want to unwind by eating something that actually tastes good. And three, even if you do crave something healthy, you don't know what or how to make it.
But after-school snacks don't have to be junk food. There are plenty of easy-to-make healthy snacks, which—believe it or not—also taste awesome. STACK reached out to our network of expert dietitians to find out their favorite after-school snacks.
1. English Muffin Pizzas
- English muffin
- Tomato sauce (or tomatoes)
- Shredded cheese (preferably part-skim mozzarella)
- Toppings of your choice
- Spread tomato sauce or tomato slices on english muffin.
- Sprinkle cheese on top.
- Add toppings.
- Microwave for 30 seconds (or until cheese melts).
Prep time: 3-5 minutes
You love pizza, right? That means you'll love English muffin pizzas! This one comes from Kait Fortunato, Registered Dietitian at Rebecca Bitzer & Associates. English muffin pizza is simple to make—you don't even need a pizza oven.
How healthy you want to make it is up to you. If you use a whole wheat muffin, real tomato slices, part-skim mozzarella and healthy toppings like peppers, onions and chicken breast, you'll have a pretty nutritious pizza. It's also up to you to eyeball the ratio of ingredients you want. For example, if you don't like a lot of sauce, feel free to use just a dab. The best part about making your own snack is that you can customize it to your liking.
2. Super Shake
- 8 oz. water or milk
- 1 scoop protein powder
- 1 handful spinach
- 1 half banana or 1 sliced apple
- 1 tablespoon of peanut butter
- Toss ingredients into a blender.
- Blend thoroughly.
Prep time: 4-6 minutes
Super shakes do a great job of combining several useful food groups into one delicious, easy-to-drink package.
"We find the Super Shake works really well for high school athletes. It's got lean protein, fruits, veggies, quality carbs and healthy fats. It also tastes great," says Brian St. Pierre, Nutrition Coach at Precision Nutrition. It certainly beats a bag of Doritos! If one of the above ingredients doesn't strike your fancy, Precision Nutrition has a great info graphic listing options for each addition.
3. Apple with Almond Butter
- One sliced apple
- Two tablespoons peanut butter
- Cut up the apple into slices, dispose of core.
- Spread a little peanut butter on each slice.
Prep Time: 1-2 minutes (unless the peanut butter jar gets stuck, of course)
This one has everything you want from an after-school snack—it's healthy, it tastes fantastic and it's so simple a caveman could do it. Just grab an apple, cut it up, smear some peanut butter on (or dip it, if that's what you're into) and you're good to go.
"Fruit is easy to include in your diet, even if you don't like eating it plain," says Ryan Andrews, Nutrition Coach at Precision Nutrition.
RELATED: 8 Awesome Benefits of Eating Apples
This snack might look light, but it will fill you up. Why? Because it contains nearly 40 percent of your daily fiber, which slows digestion and helps you feel full longer after you eat.
This snack also packs serious muscle-building protein, nearly 8 grams per serving. That's exactly what you need to recover after a long day, especially if you worked out before you got home. Although you can use peanut butter, almond butter tastes similar but is higher in vitamin E (important for skin health), magnesium (important for nervous system function) and iron (important for transportation of oxygen throughout the body).
4. Bean and Cheese Quesadilla
- 1 whole wheat tortilla
- 1 small handful of shredded cheese
- 1/4 cup of rinsed canned black beans
- Sprinkle shredded cheese onto one half of the tortilla.
- Evenly spread black beans onto it.
- Fold tortilla in half.
- Microwave for 45 seconds to 1 minute or until cheese is melted.
Prep Time: 3-5 minutes
Sometimes, you've just gotta make yourself a quesadilla. Fortunato recommends this bean and cheese quesadilla as a satisfying after-school snack. Not only is it tasty, it also offers a great blend of carbs, protein and fiber to help you refuel and recover.
Black beans are an awesome food—they're high in protein, low in fat and packed with valuable antioxidants. You can tweak the cheese/bean ratio to your liking, but know that more beans will generally be healthier while more cheese will generally be less healthy.
5. Ants on a Log
- Nut butter of your choice
- Raisins or almonds
- If the celery is especially long, cut it in half.
- Spread nut butter evenly inside the natural indent of the celery.
- Evenly space almonds or raisins on the nut butter, pressing them in gently so they stick.
Prep time: 4-6 minutes
Andrews recommends this old favorite, and you'd be hard-pressed to find anyone who doesn't like it. The name refers to the fact that the raisins (or almonds) give it the appearance of ants crawling on a log, but this tastes a lot better than munching on insects.
Ants on a Log is super easy to make . It requires absolutely no appliance use, and the directions are straightforward. Both raisins and almonds are high in fiber, but almonds hold a protein advantage, which makes them a good pick if you're looking to build muscle.
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