As a parent, you know right away, when your child has had a bad day at school. All it takes is one good look at her face, and you just know something is off – may it be an unkind remark from a classmate, a question from the teacher that made her nervous in front of the class or a lost sports game. It’s tough for you to drop everything in the middle of a busy day, but there is nothing that uplifts an upset child more than taking a break together and sharing a few calming moments. After a long hug and a comforting conversation, how about having a healthy snack to recharge?
ZisBoomBah nutritionist Lisa Lanzano, MS, RD has some great meal and snack ideas to pep up your child after a rough day at school:
MILK AND COOKIES
Kids love milk and cookies. It creates good childhood memories with every bite. Lisa suggests you make peanut butter cookies using King Arthur’s white whole-wheat flour. Kids are getting their whole grains, and the peanuts give them extra protein. Or you can switch to almond or cashew butter for variety. Throw in some raisins or dried cranberries to jack up their antioxidants intake.
Extra tips: You can use half of the sugar in most cookie recipes and your kids – not even your husband – will never miss it. Really, we promise this works. What’s more: Because you are using nut butter, you can get by with using less butter in the recipe.
And voila, you are giving your kids a higher protein, healthy fat and lower sugar comfort cookie.
Bake sweet potato fries in the oven! Or mash the sweet potatoes and add a little orange juice for extra vitamin C and a little cinnamon. The smooth texture of anything mashed and warm is comforting in itself!
Yes, the cliché of chicken soup for the soul is actually true! There is research behind the immune-boosting effects of chicken noodle soup too, says Lisa. Throw in some extra carrots, celery and onion… be creative adding other vegetables your child likes and that you can chop up finely. Add extra chunks of chicken for even more protein.
Extra tip: Use whole-wheat pasta if you’re making chicken noodle soup from scratch to add nutritional value. Think your family won’t eat it? At least try to use half whole-wheat pasta and half white to get them used to the different flavor and extra bite of whole-wheat pasta.
ENGLISH MUFFIN PIZZAS
Little English muffin pizzas are fun to make and look cute too! Use Canadian bacon instead of pepperoni, says Lisa, and top with pineapple. The tomato sauce is a great source of vitamin A. Add little leaves of spinach if you want. Now you’ve put a healthy twist on the same old – and usually pretty unwholesome – comfort food staple. These little pizzas are energy rich, nutrient rich comfort food for kids.
Extra tip: Let kids create their own little pizzas. Choosing the toppings and decorating the little muffins will distract your kids from any stress they had before coming home. Now it’s time to relax and enjoy your own creations together!