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30 Easy After School Snack Ideas

30 Easy After-School Snack Ideas

We love fall: warm sweaters, scarves, hot chocolate… but for families fall is an busy time of the year. While September is the one month out of the next five without a major holiday, it’s challenging because it’s a transitional month. Families switch gears from carefree summer days to tight school schedules packed with activities.

One thing all parents with school-aged kids hear after they pick up their kids: “I’m huuungryyyy…” Take some of the stress out of meal prep with these quick and easy after-school snack ideas. With a little snack to hold them over, parents can get dinner on the table, homework checked, and the kids to sleep just a little bit earlier — giving you that much-needed down time!

Easy Back to School Snack Ideas

Snug As A Bug ‘Flower Power’ Kids Fleece Footy

Quick and Easy After-School Snacks

1. Graham Cracker ‘Cheesecake’. Spread cream cheese on graham crackers and top with fresh slices fruit or berries for a “cheesecake” effect.

2. Hummus and Veggies. Baby carrots, sliced cucumber or red pepper, and whole wheat pita will make for a quick veggie infusion before dinner. An easy way to present them with new vegetables to try.

3. Ants on a Log. Cut celery sticks into ‘logs’, fill with smooth or chunky peanut butter and top with a row of raisins.

4. Popcorn. Short on time? Pop a bag of popcorn in the microwave. If you’re concerned about health, opt for plain popcorn and top with shaved parmesan, nutritional yeast (parmesan flavor with protein and without the fat), Italian seasoning, or chili powder.

5. Peanut Butter ‘Pizzas’. Spread peanut butter on whole wheat bread and offer an assortment of toppings for your kids to add: sliced strawberries, banana, or even a handful of dark chocolate chips.

6. Frozen Bananas. This snack involves some thinking ahead, but is great way to satisfy cries for “I want ice cream!” Cut bananas in half and stick popsicle sticks inside. Freeze overnight on a baking sheet then put in a freezer-bag. Serve as you would a popsicle.

7. Apple Blossoms. Blend a little chocolate hazelnut spread with almond butter. Put a dollop on a plate. Arrange thinly sliced apple slices in the dip to look like a flower. Sometimes presentation and a touch of chocolate is half the battle to getting your kids to eat produce.

8. Steamed Broccoli with Ranch. The tough, sometimes grainy texture of raw broccoli is sometimes hard for kids to get past. Lightly steamed broccoli, either on the stove in or in the microwave, creates a much more palatable texture. A side of ranch dressing for dipping never hurts.

9. Pita Pizza Pockets. Slice whole wheat mini-pitas in half, spread pasta sauce inside and stuff with cheese and thinly sliced veggies and melt in the oven for a healthier — and sometimes faster — alternative to frozen pizza pockets.

10. Cheese Plate. Inspire your kids to be adventurous with their snacking. Slice a couple different types of cheese (cheddar, gouda, and pepper jack are fun!) with their favorite crackers and let them try sometime new. They’ll learn that there’s an alternative to American cheese slices!

30 After School Snack Ideas

Lazy One Kids “Timberland Bear” Footy

11. Caramel Apple ‘Nachos.’ This is a super neat idea. Fill a plate with sliced apples. Drizzle a little bit of caramel topping, vanilla yogurt, mini chocolate chips, and crushed nuts for a fun treat.

12. Rice Cakes with Sliced Banana. Doesn’t get much easier than this. Spread rice cakes or multigrain cakes with a nut butter of your choice and top with sliced bananas. A sweet, healthful, crunchy snack.

13. Cheese Roll-Ups. Lay sliced provolone flat, top with turkey or ham, roll up and serve! Add a little dish of mustard for dipping if you’d like.

14. Yogurt Parfait. Layer berries and vanilla yogurt in a small dish, drizzle with honey, and top with crunchy granola.

15. Cheerios Snack Mix. Don’t have time to make homemade Chex Mix? Same here. Throw some regular cheerios, peanuts, raisins, and a handful of chocolate chips in a bowl. Toss and serve.

16. Avocado Toast. Whole wheat toast topped with smashed avocado and a sprinkle of salt makes for a satisfying snack. For older kids looking for kick, add some crushed red pepper or nutritional yeast for a protein-packed cheese flavor.

17. Pizza Bagels. Slice a bagel or mini-bagel in half. Top with tomato sauce, cheese, and let your kids add toppings from options like chopped veggies (whatever you have on hand), olives, or ham or pepperoni. Place in oven at 350 until cheese melts and bubbles.

18. Fruit and Yogurt Dip. Dip makes a difference! This trick does for fruit what ranch does for vegetables. Sweeten Greek yogurt with honey, mix together, and serve dip with an assortment of fruit. The kids will love it and it’s packed with protein — keeping the kids out the kitchen until dinner.

19. Pretzels and Chocolate Chips. Introduce the kids to the lovable combination of sweet and salty with a handful of pretzels, chocolate chips, and some roasted peanuts.

20. English Muffin Toasties. Slice whole wheat english muffins in half, top with a slice of ham and a slice of cheese, toast in oven until cheese is hot and bubbly.

30 Snack Ideas for Back-to-School

Munki Munki Kids Dino Bikes Long John Set

21. Hulk Smoothies. Throw frozen bananas, a couple handfuls of baby spinach, and milk or milk substitute into a blender. The kids will only be able to taste the sweet bananas in the smooth creamy texture of this fun green ‘milkshake.’

22. Lazy Loaded Nachos. Spread tortilla chips over a microwave safe plate. Top with sliced cheese (whatever you have on hand) and beans or veggies of choice. Microwave until cheese melts. Serve with salsa or sour cream.

23. Quesadilla. This is perfect if you have a fridge full of leftover chicken or steak. Warm a pan, place a large whole wheat tortilla in the middle, quickly top with leftover meat, sprinkle with cheese, top with another tortilla. Heat and flip until both sides are golden, crisp, and cheese is melted. Cut into wedges and serve as is or with sour cream or salsa.

24. Chocolate Dipped Strawberries. Dip a handful of fresh strawberries into a little bit of chocolate hazelnut spread. Serve on a plate.

25. No-Bake Oatmeal Energy Balls. A great make-ahead snack. You can make a variety of flavors and store in the fridge and serve throughout the week. Get the recipe at Bless This Mess here.

26. Baked S’Mores. Okay, so this isn’t the ‘healthiest’ treat — but everything in moderation! Make one s’more for each kiddo, but bake in the oven instead of heating over the fire. Slip in some sliced fruit or berries if you’d like.

27. Woven Wheat ‘Pizzas’. Place your favorite woven wheat crackers on a baking try. Top with cheese slices and a slice of pepperoni or a piece of ham. Bake until cheese is melted.

28. Protein-Packed Hot Chocolate. Soy milk contains 7-9 grams of protein per serving, making it a great snack if you want to beef up a beverage. Make a standard hot chocolate pack with soy milk instead of regular milk for a more satisfying after-school beverage.

29. Baked Garlic Parmesan Zucchini Chips. Here’s an after school snack that the adults might want to enjoy too. While it’s not as quick as some of the other options, it’s a relatively low-maintenance recipe. Get the recipe from Diethood here.

30. Banana ‘Nice Cream’. Blend frozen bananas in a food processor, add dashes of milk or milk substitute until you reach the desired consistency (think soft-serve ice cream). Top with a squirt of chocolate sauce, chopped nuts, cereal, or a dash of sprinkles for a healthier take on ice cream.

We hope you and your children enjoy these snacks or were inspired to invent your own! For more back-to-school tips and family-friendly recipe ideas, visit our blog at thepajamacompany.com/blog.

Kids Pajamas for Back-to-School

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17 Sleep Inducing Bedtime Snacks

17 Sleep-Inducing Bedtime Snacks

How is it August already? It’s time to get back to school and back to our family routines. The long carefree days of summer sometimes encourage parents to let bedtime stretch 30 minutes… or one or two hours… later than on a school night. Getting your kids back on board with “early to bed, early to rise” might be a challenge.

Cutting out screen time at least one hour before bed is a great way to help kids (and adults!) fall asleep and stay asleep. If your kids usually have a bedtime snack, rethink milk and cookies and opt for one of these sleep inducing treats instead. Your kids will practically be begging for their pajamas.

Classic Moose Flapjack Pajamas by Lazy One

Classic Moose Flapjack Pajamas by Lazy One

Snacks That Make You Sleepy

1. Banana and Almond Butter. The magnesium and potassium in bananas serve as a natural muscle and nerve relaxant. The protein and fiber in almond butter will ensure that your kids will stay asleep.

2. Hummus and Whole-Grain Bread. Hummus is a great source of tryptophan, which gets metabolized into serotonin and melatonin, two of the main chemicals responsible for getting you to sleep. Whole-grain bread triggers insulin production, which makes you feel sleepy by naturally raising your blood sugar.

3. Whole-Grain Crackers, Cheese, and Turkey. The protein in cheese will help you stay asleep while turkey is another great source of tryptophan. The calcium in cheese will also regulate involuntary muscle movements, reducing the chance of “twitching” awake.

4. Cherries. The best way to get a good night’s sleep is to increase your melatonin intake. Cherries are a natural source of melatonin. When eaten regularly, they can help regulate your sleep cycle.

5. Chocolate Covered Almonds. Dark chocolate contains serotonin, which relaxes your body and mind. Almonds are packed with protein and fiber to curb hunger.

6. Watermelon. Each 2-cup serving is half water, which will hydrate kids before bed and eliminate post-dinner hunger pains with its fiber and volume.

7. Whole-Grain Crackers and Tuna Salad. Whole-Grain foods are great for regulating your blood sugar and fish such as tuna, halibut, and salmon are high in vitamin B6, which your body needs to make melatonin and serotonin.

'Bear Cheeks' Flapjack Pajamas by Lazy One

‘Bear Cheeks’ Flapjack Pajamas by Lazy One

8. Honey-Sweetened Hot Chocolate. Milk, dark chocolate powder, and a touch of honey warmed on the stove is a drink that will send anyone off to dreamland. Dark chocolate is a natural source of serotonin and the calcium in milk helps the brain use the tryptophan to manufacture sleep-inducing melatonin. The natural sugar in honey slightly raises insulin and allows tryptophan to enter the brain more easily.

9. Pistachios. A handful of pistachios packs protein, vitamin B6, and magnesium, all of which contribute to better sleep.

10. String Cheese. If your kids are complaining of hunger pangs, “string cheese” — part-skim mozzarella cheese — is packed with protein and makes for a satisfying pre-bed snack.

11. Pretzels. This one might surprise you. Pretzels have a high glycemic index, which means they will spike your blood sugar and insulin levels, shortening the amount of time it takes you to fall asleep. Combine with nut butter for a snack with some staying power.

12. Whole-Grain Toast, Smoked Salmon, and Cream Cheese. If your kids are happy with tuna, give this one a try. Given what we already know about whole-grains and dairy, this snack should be no surprise. Like tuna, salmon is rich in vitamin B6, which aids in melatonin and serotonin production.

13. Oatmeal with Dried Cherries. Oats raise your blood sugar naturally and make you feel sleepy. Oats are also rich in melatonin, which relaxes the body and helps you fall asleep.

14. Baked Sweet Potato “Toast”. Baked sweet potatoes are a great source of potassium, magnesium, and calcium to help you relax. Drizzle with honey or a tablespoon of almond butter for a pre-bedtime treat.

15. Whole Wheat Banana Muffins with Walnuts. The vitamin B6 in bananas converts tryptophan into serotonin, increasing the body’s ability to relax. Walnuts are another natural source of melatonin, which will help regulate your sleep cycle.

16. Bowl of Rice Cereal. A bowl of rice cereal before bed could help your kids get better sleep. The snack combines calcium from milk with carbs and the blood sugar spike from rice to help them get to sleep faster.

17. Cantaloupe. Dehydration can impact your ability to fall asleep and stay asleep, so choosing to snack on a watery fruit like cantaloupe will help make up for any deficits.

For more back-to-school tips and tricks,  visit The Pajama Company at our blog, thepajamacompany.com/blog.

back-to-school kids pajamas

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Quick and Easy Snack Ideas for March Madness

8 Quick and Easy ‘March Madness’ Snack Ideas

“Oh, by the way, the guys are coming over to watch the game in 30 minutes…” Is March Madness driving you bonkers? The guys are coming over might be a common ‘FYI’ in your house these days. Unlike the Super Bowl, an event you have months to prepare for, the weeks of March Madness can result in a parade of last-minute house guests. Just because the gathering is less “formal,” doesn’t mean that you won’t be expected to provide something to snack on during the game.

A simple solution for any last-minute gathering is to have simple snacks that you can throw together from your pantry with little to no preparation. Here is our collection of game day snacks that will make you look like a super host without any effort. We promise you won’t even have to put real pants on.

Easy Game Day Snack Ideas

With a few items from your pantry, you can whip up a snack to please the crowd (and keep your pajama pants on).

Game Day Snack Ideas from Your Pantry

1. Flatbread Pizza. If you keep flatbread or pita bread on hand, you can have a snack in a flash. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees and place the flatbread or pita rounds on a baking tray. Top with whatever you have on hand and bake for 8 minutes. Here are a few combinations to get you started:

  • pasta sauce and shredded mozzarella with pepperoni
  • olive oil and parmesan topped with olives or roasted red peppers
  • shredded sharp cheddar with ham or bacon
  • ricotta, red onion, and asparagus finished with arugula after baking

2. Chips and Queso. What is Velveeta? Who cares. It’s ‘cheese’… we think. It has a long shelf life so you can keep it in your pantry for entertaining emergencies. Drop the block of Velveeta in a small pot or microwavable bowl, top with a can of your favorite chili, and heat until melted while stirring every so often. In five minutes or less you will have a tasty dip to go with chips, a jar of salsa, and beer.

3. Bacon-Wrapped Shrimp. Bacon, frozen shrimp, and toothpicks will make an amazing snack to serve alongside cheese and crackers. Thaw out the shrimp, cut the slices of bacon in half, roll up the shrimp in the bacon and secure with a toothpick. Coat a baking sheet with nonstick cooking spray or wax paper, line with the wrapped shrimp, and bake in a preheated oven at 400 degrees for 8-10 minutes — done!

4. Easy Poutine. For a poor man’s version of this Canadian indulgence, just keep a bag of frozen fries on hand. Bake according to instructions on a baking sheet, remove from oven and create a pile of fries. Drizzle with a can of brown gravy and top with shredded cheese (the real deal is made with cheese curds, but use any cheese really). Pop under the broiler until the cheese is melted. Serve on the baking sheet and let the animals have at it.

Easy Entertaining Ideas for March Madness

White Bean and Rosemary dip is so versatile, you can serve it with anything.

5. White Bean and Rosemary Dip. An alternative to hummus, this is the best dip to make if you don’t want to invest in a tub of tahini and have fresh rosemary on hand. Simply drain a can of cannellini beans and add to your food processor with a squirt of lemon, and 1-2 tablespoons chopped fresh rosemary. Blend and add olive oil until you reach the consistency you prefer. Add salt and pepper to taste. Serve with veggies, crackers, chips, pita bread, or toasts.

6. Easiest Cheesiest Bean Dip. If there’s anything we learned from our parents or grandparents, it’s that you can make a meal in minute with a can of condensed soup. Keep a can of condensed bean with bacon soup — you know the brand — in your pantry. Stir together the soup, 1 cup of sour cream, 1 cup of shredded cheddar cheese, 1 tablespoon of minced onion, and 1 tablespoon of taco seasoning mix in a microwave safe bowl. Microwave on high until hot, about 3 minutes. Stir again and microwave an additional 3 minutes until the cheese melts. Serve with chips and you’re done!

7. Easy Mini Meatballs. Keep Italian sausage in your freezer to thaw as you need it. Cut off the casing of the sausage and cut the link into quarter size pieces, rolling them into balls. Preheat oven to 400 degrees, place balls on a wax-lined baking sheet, and bake for 20-25 minutes. Serve with toothpicks and a small bowl of warm pasta sauce for dipping. You can also use Italian turkey or chicken sausage for a lighter option!

8. Hot Crab Dip. Dips that you can bake require minimal effort on your part. Crab dip may sound complicated, but you can make it with items in your kitchen that have a long shelf life. In a bowl, combine a block of softened cream cheese, ⅓ cup mayonnaise or Miracle Whip, 1 ½ cups shredded cheese of your preference, 1 can of crabmeat, and 2 tablespoons chopped fresh onion (red, white, yellow, or green). Mix together then transfer mixture to an oven-friendly baking dish. Bake for 10 minutes in an oven that has been preheated to 350 degrees. Stir. Sprinkle sliced almond on top and bake for an additional 5 minutes. Serve hot with crackers!

For more recipes and ideas for entertaining, visit The Pajama Company at our blog, thepajamacompany.com/blog.

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