A healthy fuel up for kids

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I can’t imagine how you mothers do it.

Pick the kids up after school, get them to the ball game or track meet or practice and then home again for a late dinner — unless there’s another practice — think travel basketball, volleyball or condi-    tioning.

There’s no reason the before activity or practice snacks can’t be nourishing, tasty choices for the hungry kids.

Many kids have early lunch periods during school, so they might start the game or meet hungry. A good after-school snack provides quality carbohydrates and protein for quick energy and a satisfied tummy. 

Mix up your kids’ Gatorade regimen with fun and creative homemade snacks. 

Instead of feeding them orange slices or hard-as-rock granola bars, give them something that tastes good and is good for them to enjoy during after-school-sports. 

Just as kids need their shin guards and cleats for the game, they also need to fuel their bodies with nutrients to be successful at sports. Before, during, and after their games, it’s important to feed the little athletes things that will give them the protein, carbohydrates, vitamins and minerals they need in their everyday diet — and it goes without saying that it should taste good, too.

These recipes have everything your kids and their bodies crave — whether it’s protein-packed soy clusters for them to snack on during a break in the game or cheesy mini pizza rolls to treat them with after a win. 

It’s time to start feeding our kids food that is both tasty and healthy, and these recipes will ensure they can’t wait until it’s your week to bring the snacks for the game.

The caramel maple yogurt dip makes it easier than every to get kids to eat their fruits, using sweet and well-liked combination of caramel and maple syrup to spike the yogurt. 

The Gone Fishin’ Snack Mix is another easy snack to prepare. Once you see the gummy worms, you’ll understand the name. 

It’s a fun way to treat your kids to a candy while serving them an otherwise healthy snack mix. 

The recipe makes 26 servings that can be packaged up in plastic sandwich bags.

Not everyone has time to make homemade snacks of course. Here are some ideas for packing the cooler for game days.

Consider these nourishing options:

•  6-ounce cartons of a variety of fruited yogurt or yogurt in a tube

•  Peanut butter or almond butter sandwiches with natural fruit jam

•  Turkey and/or cheese wraps   cut into 1-inch slices for easy finger food

•  Low-fat string cheese and mini pretzels

•  Bottles of cold water or pitchers of cold water with lemon. Cold water helps lower body temperture in active athletes.

Weekend morning games can be a challenge as well. Muscle fuel is often low after an overnight fast. Therefore, if you are rushing out the door to make it to a morning game, consider serving breakfast foods that kids love:

•  A mini cinnamon-raisin bagel with flavored cream cheese

•  English muffin sandwich with a slice of lean ham and/or reduced-fat cheese

•  Greek yogurt with a variety of toppings such as homemade granola, chopped almonds or walnuts and dried fruit

•  Fruit and yogurt smoothies

•  Cartons of low-fat milk with baggies full of cereal

•  100-percent fruit juice boxes

Post-game snacks should help to replace muscle fuel lost in exercise and replenish fluids without ruining kids’ appetite for the next meal. Consider:

•  Air-popped popcorn sprinkled with Parmesan cheese

•  Low-fat chocolate milk

•  Banana, orange slices or apple slices dipped in orange juice to prevent browning

•  Whole-grain granola bars